Between inflation and shortages, consumers have cut back on certain items. Coffee, however, isn’t one of them. Today, it is more popular than any other beverage—including tap water, according to the National Coffee Data Trends report.
The number of latte lovers is on the rise. In September, coffee reached record-high popularity with consumers ages 18 to 24, with 51% having consumed coffee in the past day compared to the record of 50% in September 2020.
But you don’t need statistics to witness the beverage’s popularity. Coffee shops are plentiful throughout the First State—and they aren’t limited to Wawa, Dunkin’ and Starbucks.
Indeed, there’s been a flurry of local business openings, and unlike the national chains, they boast distinct personalities. Here are five to consider.
“The more people enjoy a good cup of coffee and experience it—that’s good for everybody.”
—Jill Willis, BrewHaha! president
And Then There Were Two
Danio Somoza and partner Thaina Bittencourt initially thought carryout would make up the bulk of the business at this Rehoboth café in the Avenue Inn & Spa building. “But our guests loved our space so much that we decided to open for dine-in,” says Somoza, who owns Harvest Tide Steakhouse in Lewes and Zocca Modern Mexican in Bethany Beach.
Drive down Wilmington Avenue in Rehoboth on a sunny day and you’ll see a small crowd vying for the 10 al fresco tables. The interior, however, is worth experiencing. “We went for an Instagrammable aesthetic,” Somoza says. Pendant lights with woven shades hang over a wood counter with a natural edge, and lagoon-colored tiles create a tropical theme.
With a focus on healthy cuisine, the menu includes salad with Thai red Russian kale and a tamarind-Asian dressing; a BLT panini with avocado, bacon, smoked gouda and heirloom tomatoes on whole-grain bread; and a New York-style bagel with smoked bacon, a fried egg, avocado, heirloom tomato and burrata.
There are smoothies and mocktails, and the couple plans to offer cocktails at a second 50-seat location in Milton, where Zava will roast beans from Brazil and Columbia.
33 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 102 Federal St., Milton; 278-7935; zavacafe.co
New to the Avenue
When Brew HaHa! owner Alisa Morkides decided to bring European-style coffee drinks to Delaware, people thought she was nuts, says company president Jill Willis. Morkides has had the last laugh.
Today’s coffee buffs stand on higher ground. They’re so obsessed with their java that they know the bean’s origin and hotly debate brewing methods. “The more people enjoy a good cup of coffee and experience it—that’s good for everybody,” Willis says.
Brew HaHa! customers also come for the ambiance. The new location in Avenue North, a mixed-use Fairfax development, is proof. Midcentury modern appointments create a sleek urban look that’s a far cry from the shabby chic of the past. (Most locations have received a makeover.)
The new shop’s showpiece is the 1,400-square-foot patio with lush landscaping. But the star is the coffee, which comes from the sister company, Brandywine Coffee Roasters.
“That sets us apart,” Willis agrees. “All our coffee is made with love in Wilmington.”
1000 Renaissance Way, Wilmington; 660-7655; brewhaha.com
A Cup of Zen
As Katie Kutler sees it, a community can never have too many local coffee shops, especially in a state where “everyone knows everyone,” she says. Friends and neighbors should support those reaching for their dreams.
Kutler’s vision is Kaffé KARMA, a Barley Mill Plaza coffee shop by day and a yoga and meditation studio in the evenings. It’s an ambitious endeavor, but karma means “action,” and Kutler wants KARMA to impact the community positively.
In addition to the expected espresso-based drinks, the menu includes loose-leaf tea, fresh smoothies and mushroom coffee. “We haven’t been able to find mushroom coffee at other shops, so we’re extremely excited to offer it,” Kutler says. (The healthy beverage doesn’t taste like Kennett’s claim to fame.)
Creative cuisine includes wellness bowls, charcuterie and hummus boards and Satori toast—prosciutto, burrata and a hot honey drizzle on sourdough.
“The intention behind KARMA is to become the area’s local community hub, focusing on mental health plus physical wellness,” she explains. “I know with the event calendar we have curated, along with our offerings, the community will find the space refreshing and a much-needed addition.”
347 Buckley Mill Road, Wilmington; 274-2161; kaffekarma.com
It was love at first sight for Nicholas Qaabar, who saw the distinctive building near Wilmington’s Triangle neighborhood and fell hard. But the Baynard Boulevard property wasn’t for sale. “I talked to the previous owner for months and convinced him to sell,” says Qaabar, who has lived in Delaware since 2015.
The building had been an office and, in the 1940s, a soda shop. Today it’s a café open for breakfast and lunch. The proprietor says the restaurant fills a niche for three communities, including Baynard Village and Ninth Ward.
Menu items include vegan and vegetarian options, and, since Qaabar is from the Middle East, he offers hummus. Some sandwiches boast Palestinian aioli. However, “a great cup of coffee is the bread and butter of the business,” says Qaabar, a French press fan.
His love of the outdoors led to the café’s name. “Scout is about exploring new things—nature, foods, books, whatever,” he explains. “Good coffee shops, books and houseplants—you can never have too much.”
2316 Baynard Blvd., Wilmington; scout-cafe.com
Related: Where to Find Fresh Juice, Smoothies and Açai Bowls in Delaware