At the tail end of a horrible year, life threw a bit of serendipity at me this week, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Just days after I booked a trip to Corpus Christi for some much-needed rest and rejuvenation, a friend of mine posted this article on Facebook.
A Harry Potter themed coffee shop just opened in Corpus? No freaking way! That’s a road trip I would take anyway, but the stars aligned that I would be there right after Christmas. I could hardly wait. Coffee and Harry Potter– two of my favorite things.
Started by single mom Susan Almaguer, the shop is new, but the potential is evident from the moment you see the graffiti on the outside wall. Visible from the sidewalk was a Christmas tree in the shop window, bedecked with so many owls.
Entering the coffee shop, your eyes are first drawn upward towards the four prominent House banners. As their website boldly states, “We proudly support House equality.”
There is a credenza near the bar that holds not only the essentials of coffee accessorizing (sugar, cream, napkins), but also books, mandrakes, a sorting hat, games, potion bottles, and countless other details that give the shop its charm.
I brought my own House mug (Ravenclaw), because I’m weird like that, and I asked the barista to surprise me. He made me a fun green Polyjuice Potion (matcha latte). I’ve been on a big matcha kick recently, so this was perfect.
The only disappointment was that there were no fun decorated cookies or snitches this week. The owner says that her next priority is hiring a full-time baker so they can have those treats on a daily basis. “They sell out quickly!” she reported. Indeed, I bet they do!
I came at a good time. There were few enough people in the shop that I was able to take some pictures and have a sit-down chat with the owner, who was wearing an apron that said “the keeper of keys and grounds.” (Ironically, she couldn’t find her keys that morning and was searching the shop for them, haha!)
Susan is sweet and spunky with an infectious smile and positivity for miles. As I was geeking out over her shop, she geeked out over my British hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
I didn’t overthink the interview– we chatted like friends, and I asked her my most burning questions.
Every Potterhead knows the backstory-- single mom J.K. Rowling sitting in coffee shops writing the manuscripts and chasing her dreams. Did this history influence you?
Yes, for sure. I was divorced three years ago, and I was a housewife. I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do next. I worked lots of jobs, trying to support myself and have nice birthday parties for my kids. They did all of this fun stuff when they were with their dad, and I was barely making ends meet. I knew that I wanted more. I’ve always said that it’s okay if I don’t succeed at things, but I want to know that I tried. So I threw every dollar I had into this place and lots of blood, sweat, and so many tears. And I had so many doubts the week before we opened and cried so hard. But we opened, and it’s been amazing, and now everyone knows about it! I’m so amazed.
And the logo is for my kids. The coffee mug– that’s my daughter. You know how you sit with a cup of coffee and just enjoy and observe. That’s her. And my son– he’s the lightening bolt (laughing). And, after a loss of a pregnancy where I almost lost my own life, he came after and is truly the “boy who lived.”
The name of the shop is brilliant. Which came first-- the idea for the shop or the name?
Well, for years I’ve traveled through Texas and visited coffee shops, just for fun, it was my thing. And my Instagram was @iamthecoffeemuggle. So people would see me and be like, “Hey! You’re the coffee muggle!” So, I knew that if I ever opened a shop of my own, that would be the name. It was going to be just The Coffee Mugg. I knew that with the double G, true Potterheads would get it. But I didn’t know if anyone else would, so I added the LE in parenthesis to make it The Coffee Mugg(le).
What is your vision for people who come into your shop?
You know, it seems basic, but I really just want people to be completely comfortable. To be able to hang out and talk. We’ve had puzzle throw-downs and played Dungeons and Dragons. People come in dressed head to toe in wizard cosplay. I want more of that.
What comes next for The Coffee Mugg(le)?
The next step is to hire a full-time baker so we can have those amazing snitches and Harry Potter themed cookies every day. I also want to knock out that wall to expand the shop and design it to look like Diagon Alley!
Most importantly, do you plan to serve butterbeer?
I think so! But I’m going to change it up. You know– butterbeer is like the pumpkin spice latte of the Harry Potter world. I’m going to tweak it a little and call mine the Basic Witch.
Before long, the shop started filling up and Susan went back to work, delivering mugg after mugg of deliciousness. (The vanilla latte seems to be the favorite.)
Being a single mom has its challenges. Susan’s two children were set up at one of the tables with Playdough, markers, toys, and hopefully enough to get them through the day on this holiday break. When it was obvious that the rush wasn’t going to subside anytime soon, I joined them at their table to free up mine. Little helpers in full support of their mom, they were both creating Slytherin ornaments to decorate one of the house wreaths. 🙂
When I went into the shop, I had something on my mind. I’m rereading the Harry Potter series for the first time in years, and in the very first chapter, this passage jumped out at me:
(Professor McGonagall) “He’ll be famous– a legend– I wouldn’t be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter Day in future– there will be books written about Harry– every child in our world will know his name!”
Did J.K. Rowling have any idea as she penned those words how literally they would come to pass?
WRITE YOUR DREAMS DOWN.
Even if they seem like crazy pipe dreams now. Even if others would scoff. Write them down, and then go make them happen.
Don’t miss out on a trip to The Coffee Mugg(le) on 1112 Morgan Avenue in Corpus Christi, TX. The theme is unique, the name is brilliant, and the heart behind it deserves all of our support.