There's a brand new roaster / retailer getting ready to open in Portland…MAINE??? Lobster lobster lobster, etc.
Sorry, we had to get that out of our system, but for reals people! The “other Portland” is home to a brand new specialty coffee operation called Tandem Coffee Roasters, a labor of love brought to the world by three former Blue Bottle employees: husband and wife team of Will and Kathleen Pratt, and their sole employee, Vien Dobui, who reached out to Sprudge with pics and info (Editors Note: When your only employee takes the time to reach out to relevant media, you have likely Hired The Right Person).
Tandem is currently under construction in Portland's East Bayside neighborhood, an up-and-coming locale that includes current like Bunker Brewing, Urban Farm Fermentory (purveyors of fine kombucha), and various assorted yoga / art / lifestyle studios. Sort of sounds like the Portland you're used to seeing us talk about.
The Blue Bottle connection runs deep at Tandem: Mr. Dobui was head of training and research for both coasts, Mrs. Pratt was the manager of Blue Bottle's Mint Plaza location (and headed up operations for their NYC expansion), and Mr. Pratt has extensive roasting experience with the company. All three left Blue Bottle at the end of 2011, and decamped to Portland, ME shortly thereafter to start Tandem.
Let's hear a little more about build-out specifics from Vien Dobui:
Our roaster Will has a background in carpentry so we've been doing the build-out ourselves, which has been pretty rewarding. We signed a lease for a small brick building (formerly the office for the town dump!) in front of a beer brewery. We'll have a small cafe space attached to our roasting/production area. No crazy coffee gadgets, just your typical set-up: Probat L12, SF-1 sample roaster, La Marzocco GB5, and a V60 program on bar.
We're keeping our coffee program simple as well. We're hoping to have 3-4 seasonal offerings that we'll build an espresso blend from. Kathleen and Will just got back from their first trip to origin (Panama) and are hoping to build relationships with producers on future trips. All of this sounds pretty par for the course huh? Hopefully we can execute everything well enough so that it adds up to more than the sum of its parts!
Tandem is slated to open in mid-August, which is pretty gosh darn soon. We'll cop to being out of the loop w/r/t the Portland, ME specialty coffee scene, but Mr. Dobui was kind enough to shout out some of Tandem's peers, including a cafe in downtown called Speckled Ax (with a “Prufrock-style menu”, according to Mr. Dobui), and roasters such as Bard Coffee, Arabica, and Matt's Coffee, not to mention the local big dogs Coffee By Design (who have a cafe inside the nearby L.L. Bean flagship store).