Saturday, June 3, 2023

Drift Coffee and Kitchen to replace Starbucks at Mayfaire this summer

With Starbucks set to move across the street next to Earth Fare grocery store, the Powell brothers are ready to tap into the retail and professional market of Wilmington's premiere shopping complex.

WILMINGTON — Brothers Michael and Ben Powell are opening their third Drift Coffee and Kitchen location sometime this summer, replacing a Starbucks at the Mayfaire shopping center (which is moving across the street next to the new Earth Fare grocery store).

The new Starbucks will open Saturday, May 11, according to employees at the current Mayfaire location. Michael Powell said Drift Coffee and Kitchen will take over the lease in early June.

Powell, a professional surfer when he was in his early twenties, said he wasn’t a big coffee fan until he discovered the unique cafe cultures of Australia and other countries he traveled to, often with his brother.

READ MORE: Come for the coffee, stay for the experience at Drift Coffee and Kitchen

“With our product, service style, and design of space we strive to evoke a feeling of, ‘This is special, these people care for me.’ We do that because these feelings have come to me in different cafes across the world,” Powell said.

The common thread he saw in these cafes was a focus on carefully sourced, roasted, and brewed coffee drinks — where even the foam on lattes was well designed — natural and healthy food dishes, and spaces that helped people feel connected and accepted.

In the fall of 2017, three years after the brothers opened their first cafe in Ocean Isle Beach, they launched a second in the Autumn Hall real estate building off Eastwood Road. For Powell, the Mayfaire location gives them something the first two markets don’t offer: access to the big retail and professional markets of a well-traveled Wilmington shopping complex.

“We are excited for the opportunity to be in the middle of it all,” Powell said.

So what can the shoppers and diners of Mayfaire expect? First, Powell wants to create a space that — like the first two before it — captures the spirit of what he discovered during his world travels.

“A vibrant, clean, open, and tasteful space; a variety of wood, concrete, tile and maybe marble, matched with some metals and plant life that will be functional and sustainable,” Powell said. “Foregoing touches that are just to be trendy … so that people can feel accepted and make connections with others.”

Drift's menu includes coffee, breakfast and lunch items that are holistic and healthy. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Michael Powell)
Drift’s menu includes coffee, breakfast, and lunch items that are holistic and healthy. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Michael Powell)

Powell said their premium coffee beverages show a “deep understanding of what it takes to make coffee be something special without adding tricky ingredients,” — an understanding that, for himself, was founded on two trips to Ethiopian coffee farms. Aside from traditional coffees, lattes, and cold brews, customers can find “holistic drinks” like the Golden Latte (turmeric ginger blended with steamed almond milk) and the Beet Latte.

The food is inspired by what Powell found in Australian cafes: flavorful, simple, and healthy plates that “can be consumed regularly to match an active and fulfilled life.” He said one of the more popular dishes is the Market Bowl Breakfast with a fried egg, sweet potatoes, mixed greens, citrus, quinoa, and roasted tomato (which you can order online for pick-up at the Autumn Hall location at 110 Dungannon Blvd #170).

Underlying everything at Drift Coffee and Kitchen is Powell’s surfer-like appreciation of connectivity and fulfillment.

“When someone designs a space a certain way and creates food and beverages that look and taste great, and is all topped off by someone serving it that exudes passion, I get so much joy,” Powell said. “With this, we try to teach our team that the true gift is being able to give and see the joy of the receiver.”

Mark Darrough can be reached at

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