Melissa Raftery and Megan Dewey-Wood’s friendship is powered by a lot of things, including Maine, music and community, but its lifeblood is coffee — small-batch, fair-trade, organic coffee roasted in the headquarters of 44 North Coffee, their roastery in Deer Isle.
“We met in Maine, and we both loved coffee, and this just seemed like an amazing opportunity to start a business,” said Dewey-Wood, a Deer Isle native.
“Coffee’s always been a part of my life,” said Raftery, who grew up in Ohio but moved to Maine more than a decade ago. “Since I was a wee child of 13 years old.”
They started making coffee in late 2010, when they invested in an industrial roaster and moved into their shop space in the Seamark Building, formerly the old Deer Isle High School — their space is located in the former principal’s office. Raftery and Dewey-Wood partner with a company that pairs small roasters with small growers from all over the world — from Guatemala and Costa Rica to Ethiopia and Sumatra.
In the year and a half since, they’ve expanded their business to sell in a number of stores, including the Blue Hill Co-op, Tradewinds Marketplace in Blue Hill, Beech Hill Farm Stand on Mount Desert Island, A&B Naturals and Town Hill Market in Bar Harbor, Lily’s Cafe and the Seasons in Stonington, the Maine Grind in Ellsworth, Bangor Wine & Cheese Co. and Rising Tide Co-op in Damariscotta. They also brew for restaurants ranging from The Lost Kitchen in Belfast to The Store Ampersand in Orono.
But for a real treat straight from the source, you can visit Raftery and Dewey-Wood themselves from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays at the Blue Hill Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-noon Fridays at the Stonington Farmers Market, and 9 a.m.-noon Sundays at the Bar Harbor Farmers Market. At the markets — and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the shop the rest of the time — they make slow-drip coffee through a Beehouse coffee dripper. It’s a ceramic device that fits on top of a mug or teapot and uses a small cone-sized coffee filter to make unbelievably smooth, delightfully strong coffee by slowly pouring hot water through the grinds, and letting it drip into the cup.
“We love coffee gadgets,” said Raftery. “We’ve got tons of them, from Aeropresses to French presses. There’s lots of fun stuff that we sell right here at the shop.”
The business partners shared their favorite recipe for excellent homemade iced coffee — it uses 12 full ounces of ground beans and makes a kind of coffee concentrate that should definitely be diluted with water or milk.
44 North’s Ultimate Iced Coffee
Yields about eight cups of liquid, which will easily make 16 eight-ounce cups of diluted iced coffee, or more if you wish to dilute it further.
1. Grind 12 oz of coffee beans (preferably organic) slightly coarser than the auto-drip setting. We have found that a lighter roast often works best for a more vibrant and favorably nuanced cold brew.
2. Spoon coffee in a large jar.
3. Add 9 cups of cold water.
4. Stir gently until all coffee grounds are incorporated into the water, but don’t over-stir.
5. Cover jar and allow to sit at room temperature for 12-16 hours.
6. Strain using a fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl or measuring cup. Another alternative straining device is 3-4 layers of damp cheesecloth.
7. Your concentrate should yield approx. 8 cups of liquid. Transfer into a jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
We recommend diluting the concentrate — which is very, very strong — with water or milk to your preference. Remember to have fun, try different coffees and find the recipe that works best for your taste buds. Remember this ratio: 9 cups of water to 12 oz. coffee beans.