HAMPSTEAD — For a long time Port City Java and Dunkin’ Donuts cornered Hampstead’s coffee market, but it seems those days are gone.
In the past nine months three new coffee shops have opened along the Highway 17 corridor that is fueling growth in the bedroom community 10 miles north of Wilmington.
Matter More Coffee is the latest to open shop. Pete Smith, his wife, and a few neighbors all work from their homes, and they knew there was increasing demand from remote workers looking for an escape from the home office and others looking for a quick caffeine fix on the way to work.
“All the sudden we realized there’s a lot of people who work from home and need to get out,” Smith said. “There’s a ton of residential growth occurring here. A lot of people with diverse work experiences.”
When Smith saw a closing sign on Hampstead Mattress in the strip mall home to Sawmill Grill, he walked in and asked the business owner, who said he was moving out in a couple of days. Soon enough he had a deal with the landlord, and together with his wife and neighbors he opened Hampstead’s newest cafe, joining Little House (which opened on April 12) and Just Brew It (November 20).
Matter More sits next to a new ice cream shop, Ice Cream City, and Exotic Hemp Co., which sells CBD products.
“We’re like the happiest strip mall in North Carolina,” Smith said.
To crater to the work-wherever crowd, enough outlets were installed for each to be within cord-distance of 90 percent of the tables, according to Smith.
But it’s not all about the caffeine work boost. Smith said the name of the shop is intended to remind his customers that their lives are significant.
“What unites people, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic or status, is a desire to know with certainty that who they are and what they do matters,” Smith said.
Matter More serves the usuals — drip coffee, lattes, mochas, hot chocolate — and smoothies. Smith found a coffee bean supplier called Crimson Cup (a ‘Golden Bean’ award winner) in Columbus, Ohio to provide something quality that people aren’t yet familiar with. Many shops in the area are supplied by local roasters, he said.
Pastries are brought in by two local bakers: Coco De Mer out of Hampstead and Cravings out of Wilmington, which bakes gluten-free and vegan products. Smith said he was unsure of what to expect with the latter, personally speaking.
“I am not a gluten-free person,” he said. “Had I not tasted the Chickpea Blondie [a vegan dessert bar] — I’ll tell you what, this stuff is delicious.”
Matter More also has a drive-through service and is located in a small strip mall at 15919 US-17 in Hampstead. It will be open Monday-Friday beginning at 6:30 a.m. On Saturday it will open at 8 a.m. For now it will close at 6 p.m., but this may change depending on demand.
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