In 1994, as large coffee companies began aggressive expansion across the country, a small coffeehouse opened in Portland. The owners worked from open to close every day of the week, and only had one part-time employee. This was how serious they were abouttheir business and how determined they were to compete with the national chains.
Today, Alan Spear and Mary Allen Lindemann may not have to work in the shop as long as they did when they first opened, but that certainly doesn’t mean that they have slowed down. Coffee by Design has expanded from its initial location and one part-timer, to four retail locations, in addition to a roasting facility, and 51 staff. Most recently, Coffee by Design received an SBA backed 504 loan to purchase and rehab yet another location that houses a roasting facility, staff training area, and a retail space. It makes one wonder just how much of the coffee the owners consume themselves.
In addition to the incredible growth experienced by this year’s winners, the owners make sure that the expansion of the business does not sacrifice quality.
Alan travels the world for the best coffee beans, building relationships with small farmers and cooperatives, and also ensuring an environmentally sound source of caffeine for Maine. These searches have allowed the business to produce over 30 unique roasts and blends, allowing consumers a greater choice than many larger companies may provide.
Mary works as the “community builder” at Coffee by Design, maintaining all of the commitments and relationships built over the years. These include the many community events that Coffee by Design participates in, and the “community coffees” which fund programs for artists in Maine, and also aid community programs in the region of Colombia that provides many of the beans to Coffee by Design. This is in addition to the many steps the business has taken towards good environmental stewardship.