Autumn is here, temperatures are dropping, the wind is picking up, which makes it the perfect time to write about Outer Banks coffee shops. I’m talking about the real thing here, those places filled with the sound of compressed steam escaping from an espresso machine that fills the air with the wonderful rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee.
There are a surprising number of coffee shops on the Outer Banks, and almost all of them are locally owned. Since Starbucks arrived at The Marketplace in Southern Shores, a lot of attention was naturally drawn to them. They certainly deserve a special mention, since they serve great coffee and create a good place to meet on that end of the Beach. Yet, the locally owned shops are turning out some really great product, and I have no problem recommending any of those I visited. In order to keep these shops organized, I’ll start north, in Corolla, and head south.
Outer Banks Coffee Company roasts their coffee, and as a result, every cup of coffee served has a full bodied fresh flavor. There’s not much seating inside, but they also have outdoor seating for good weather days. The shop is located on Ocean Trail, in the strip of stores in front of the Food Lion Shopping Center.
The Town of Duck doesn’t have a large permanent population, but it does have two of the best coffee shops on the Outer Banks. Housed in what was once a hunting lodge, Duck’s Cottage is really half coffee shop and half book store. Located in its own building on the south end of the Waterfront Shops, there’s a comfortable sitting area inside and a bit more seating on the porch. Just south and on the opposite side of the road, is Sweet T’s, which offers more great coffee. It may have the most pleasant outdoor seating area of any Outer Banks café, a large porch that’s shaded by trees sitting back off the road a bit, which lends itself to a relaxing cup of cappuccino.
Further sound down the highway, you’ll find the Outer Bean Seaside Gourmet and The Good Life Gourmet, both creating a center for the espresso world in Kitty Hawk. The Good Life is a coffee shop, bakery and restaurant, and their selection of baked goods is one of the largest around. It also has a large seating area, great for meeting friends or doing business. Outer Bean Seaside Gourmet in the Dunes Shoppes was formerly Southern Bean. When Necla Rader took it over, she merged with Seaside Gourmet, knocked the wall out between the two businesses and created a much more open and inviting cafe. Offering great food and very friendly service, I give a strong recommendation for this one.
If there is a population center on the Outer Banks, it is Kill Devil Hills, but for some reason there is only one coffee shop in town–at least as far as I can tell. Front Porch Cafe is as close to a chain as exists on the Outer Banks. There are three locations in Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head and Manteo. The one in Kill Devil Hills is the smallest, and it’s attached to a pottery glazing studio, so bring the kids and have some fun. All three cafes have plenty of seating, the company roasts their own coffee, and it is good coffee. Kill Devil Hill Front Porch Cafe is at the MP6 Shopping Center. The Nags Head café is in the Food Lion Shopping Plaza, just past the Kill Devil town line. The Manteo shop is on the corner of Route 64 just past the McDonald’s.
In addition to Front Porch Cafe, Nags Head has two other coffee shops. Morning View Coffee is a traditional coffee shop with comfortable seating, small tables and a wonderful eclectic feel. Look for it in the same strip mall that has Forbes Candies, about MP 11 on the Bypass. Waveriders is part deli (good sandwiches) and part coffee shop, but when it comes to coffee, it’s the real thing. Check them out at MP 15.5 on the Bypass. They do close at 3:00, so don’t look for evening coffee.
Finally, in the heart of Manteo, The Coffee House is about as funky and traditional as it gets. It’s across the street from the old Courthouse, now the Dare County Arts Council. Just go up some wooden stairs and to the end of a boardwalk. They have great coffee, very good pastries and friendly service.