Great Mornings in Maine: Maine’s Coffee Roasters
It’s only natural that residents of the state that’s first to see the sun rise each morning would become connoisseurs of coffee. Coffee roasting in Maine has grown exponentially over the last decade. Like seafood and ripe Maine produce, the peak flavors of roasted coffee can only be fully appreciated on location and at its freshest. Since the aromas and flavors begin to fade as soon as the beans are roasted, and even more so after they are ground, cafes in Maine have responded to this dilemma in droves. Let the pioneers of fresh-roasted Maine coffee convince you of their merit.
Nowhere in the state is coffee roasting and brewing taken more seriously than it is in Portland. Both the two Arabica Coffee and the two Tandem Coffee Roasters locations are all run by roasters with years of expertise. Bard Coffee in Old Port has quickly become another favorite by offering a total coffee experience—carefully sourced, roasted coffees prepared by friendly baristas who can tell you the story behind the beans. Coffee by Design seeks out only the best beans, hand-roasts them in small batches and painstakingly trains the baristas at their four Portland locations in order to serve some of the best coffee in the country. Speckled Ax Wood Roasted Coffee takes it a step further, only using local hardwood gathered from Maine’s forests to roast its coffee. When you stop by the Speckled Ax coffee shop on Congress Street, we suggest you hold the cream and sugar. This one you’ll want to drink straight.
North of Portland in Yarmouth, Maine Roasters Coffee is famous for their dark blend, the Rocky Coast Roast. There’s a great coffeehouse atmosphere here, with delicious pastries and comfy furniture. Or head south to Carpe Diem Roastery in North Berwick for rare roasts and reasonable prices. Wait for your order to be filled by grabbing a small cup of brew for only 50 cents.
Rock City Roasters iin downtown Rockland has been a cultural hub of the city since 1992, when it was a local bookstore with a busy cafe, called Second Read. In 1999, it began roasting its own coffee and by 2005, became known as Rock City Books and Coffee. It’s a vibrant community meeting place and the perfect spot for an unpretentious cup of great coffee. Come by on a Friday or Saturday night for live music and a pleasant vibe. The vibe is just as pleasant and the coffee every ounce as great at their second location in downtown Rockland, on the south end of Main Street. If you’re more of a tea drinker, head to Green Tree Coffee and Tea in Lincolnville. From the outside the store and roasting room look more like a northern Maine cabin, but inside you’ll get a mini, one-on-one education in the art of coffee from its knowledgeable staff as well as an extensive collection of loose teas.
DownEast, Crooked Porch Coffee in Bar Harbor gets raves for their blends and roasts. They make great coffee look easy, but one secret we’ll share is that they make sure to package their coffee immediately after the beans have cooled, thus locking the essential coffee oils where they belong. On the mainland, Rooster Brother Coffee in Ellsworth attracts visitors from far and wide to its shop filled with specialty foods, wine, cheese, cookware, linens, and small-batch coffee roasted by Gene and Marcie. Nearby, 44 North Coffee on Deer Isle is irresistibly Maine. The owners screen-print their own packaging, and on busy mornings, customers help themselves and pay using the honor box on the counter. You might also see some of the regulars helping out by hauling burlap sacks of beans upstairs to their roasting room. We help out our neighbors here, and in return, we get great coffee.
Speaking of great coffee, there’s only one specialty coffee roaster on the rugged Bold Coast of DownEast Maine. It’s the perfectly named Bold Coast Coffee in Machias, where the best responsibly-sourced beans from Central and South American farms are roasted in small batches and cooled by the fresh North Atlantic breezes. Bold Coast’s signature blend, Little River Lighthouse, is a tribute to the historic light station and coastal Maine’s independent, adventurous spirit.
But you won’t just find fresh-ground coffee along the coast. Carpe Diem’s and Coffee By Design’s roasts are served all over Maine. And Carrabasset Coffee Roasters, located close to Sugarloaf in Kingfield, produces signature coffee blends for restaurants, stores and hotels around the state. They roast the highest quality beans in 20 pound batches and serve what they call “the finest single source coffees available.”
Even if you’re not able to hit any of these spots, restaurants, lodges and local coffee shops across the state serve up these local roasts with pride. With more roasters opening every year, it’s easy to find a great cup up coffee in Maine—but hard to choose which one is the best.