UNITY, Maine — If you come to Unity, smack in the middle of Waldo County farm country, you’re likely to pass by fields being worked by earnest organic farmers or Amish families using horse-drawn plows.
You might drive by the entrance to Unity College, with its strong focus on sustainability science and environmentalism, or the headquarters of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, which has helped bring a new crop of farmers to the state. And if the sight of all of these agriculture-related things has made you peckish, you can sate your hunger at the new 93 Main Coffee Shop, with a menu featuring locally sourced produce and meats, locally roasted coffee and freshly made breads and treats.
Unity residents say the opening of the coffee shop has been a boon to their community.
“It’s an important thing to have in a small town,” Mary Leaming, the programs director of the nonprofit Unity Barn Raisers, said of the new cafe. “I want to have a good cup of coffee. I want it to be locally sourced. I want to walk in and have a community feel, and I want it to be friendly. We want to see a vibrant community. Whenever any kind of business moves in, we’re really excited to see that.”
In some ways, the seed for the coffee shop was planted last summer, when Crosstrax Neighborhood Deli closed after 13 years of serving homegrown fare to Unity residents and visitors. After a few months without the deli, Jean Bourg, a retired computer programmer and member of the town’s planning board, started thinking about what her town needed.
“You just can’t have a town without a coffee shop,” she said.
And she was in a position to do something about that. Bourg and her partner, Melissa Bastien, like old buildings and had purchased 93 Main St. in 2003. The circa 1830 building has spent the last several years serving as the headquarters for the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust.
“They moved out. Crosstrax had closed,” Bourg said. “It was like a message from the universe that we needed a coffee shop. But we had to do it the Unity way, which is as local as possible.”
She started hunting for local provisioners for the shop and found a lot. Breakfast and lunch sandwiches feature meats from Charcuterie in Unity, and the cafe has an exclusive deal with Amish chef Matthew Secich to have his artisanal products on the menu. Also, she is serving breads baked at Universal Bread Bakers in Waterville, cream cheese from Springdale Farm in Waldo, eggs from Common Wealth Farm in Unity, freshly made soups from Island Farm Kitchen in Levant, produce from the Buckle Farm in Unity, bagels from Bagel Mainea in Augusta and more. And her beverages are carefully sourced: She is serving teas and coffees from Maine companies including Lincolnville’s Green Tree Coffee & Tea, Carrabassett Coffee Company in Kingfield and Tessier Farm in Skowhegan, 44 North in Deer Isle and Teas of Cherryfield.
But her attention to detail for the new coffee shop — her first business venture of this kind — did not stop with the ongoing task of finding the right provisions, she said. Bourg scoured the state’s auction houses for tables and chairs, including an old deacon’s bench and theater seats, to give the space an eclectic and old-timey flavor. She has installed a jauntily striped awning outside and strong, reliable wireless internet service inside. Service is friendly and attentive, with a daily $6.99 lunch plate special featuring soup or quiche of the day, dressed greens and freshly baked bread. Coffee is always freshly brewed and after hours, the coffee shop often will host events such as the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust’s speaker series.
“I’m a coffee shop person,” Bourg said. “I go to a lot of coffee shops. I know what I like.”
Unity has benefited from those likes and her particular ability to make a vision a reality, Leaming said.
“She’s worked so hard. I’m so impressed by her,” she said of Bourg. “She had a goal, she figured out how to get there, and she got there.”
For Bourg, who moved to Unity in 1997, it has been worth the effort to try and make her corner of Maine a little bit more caffeinated, delicious and welcoming.
“We love Maine,” she said. “A few people organizing in town can make a difference, and that’s not true everywhere.”
93 Main Coffee Shop is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.