Following several years of planning, sisters Barbara and Terry Karter opened the doors to Happy Hippies Java Hut in Kure Beach this summer.
As they enter their first off-season, they are eager to meet locals who might not yet know of the café, located in a former T-shirt shop just steps away from the Kure Beach Pier.
The Karters' dream of owning a cozy coffee shop began with a coffee concoction they call Mermaid Magic. Served hot or cold, the drink combines coffee blended with a nut product for a caffeine and protein boost.
They began making the drink at home six years ago, and not long after began scouting possible coffee shop locations in Kure Beach, where Terry relocated from Wisconsin eight years ago. Barbara would follow her sister to the beach four years later and while operating an in-home daycare, the two continued to form plans for their business, often visiting local coffee shops as part of their research.
During a visit to Old North Coffee, 1207 S. Kerr Ave., the sisters befriended owner David Winters, who became their mentor.
“We also wanted to sell coffee and have space for local artists to sell their work,” Terry Karter said. “And had we not had David’s help we probably would have made some big mistakes early on.”
Terry Karter said Winters helped them to install their espresso machine and reverse-osmosis water filtration system.
“The right people were placed in our path to help make this a reality and we love the small town feel of Kure Beach,” Terry Karter said.
Meanwhile, the Mermaid Magic has taken on a life of its own, said the Karters.
“It’s by far our bestseller and we have customers who were here over the summer asking us to ship it to them,” Terry Karter said. “Now we’re looking forward to sharing it with locals on the island and folks in Wilmington who may not have known that we opened during tourist season.”
The café also serves homemade tea and lemonades, including Conched Out Lemonade, with blueberries and lavender, as well as a full line of espresso drinks, frappes and smoothies.
Specialty items such as nitro coffee and Bullet Proof coffee are available and the cafe is stocked with hand-crafted, locally-made jewelry and tie-dyed t-shirts, as well as goodies from The Veggie Wagon and Bagel Meister. The Veggie Wagon even prepares one of their Norwegian grandmothers’ recipes for Tea Sticks, a biscotti-like sweet that Terry Karter describes as “just like our grandma: a little tough on the outside but soft on the inside.”
Happy Hippies Java Hut is located at 109 K Ave. in Kure Beach and winter hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
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