Katahdin Coffee House Thrives in Downtown Calais

Cutting a ceremonial ribbon symbolizing the opening of Katahdin Coffee House is Isabella Dudley, daughter of owners John and Theresa. The family was joined by business members and city administration for the event on Friday, September 7th. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

 

After opening on August 9th, the Katahdin Coffee House has enjoyed a hugely successful first month in its location on Main Street in downtown Calais. The café has attracted a steady number of customers from Calais itself and the surrounding communities, including an increasing number of visitors from St. Stephen. To continue to meet the requests of their customers, owners John and Theresa Dudley have added to their offerings and are already looking to potential expansion in the future.

Along with their signature line of coffee blends – all of which have locally-themed names including the Quoddy Bay Blend and Devil’s Head Dark Roast – the Dudleys launched with an array of donuts, bagels from Bagel Central, fruit smoothies, and breakfast and lunch sandwiches served on bagels. The response from customers was extremely positive.

“This has been way beyond our expectations,” shared John. “The city and the people have been so supportive.” While the Dudleys began their efforts with the intention that John alone would be able to manage the business, that idea quickly went out the window as they realized the popularity of their product. Theresa has been devoting her time to the business, as has her son, and they have hired additional help to manage the demand. “I never would have imagined needing to hire help in the first month,” John said.

To their initial product list they have now added artisan bread, cookies and muffins from Tressa and Trudy Bakery. All of their sandwiches can be served on the artisan bread, including their newest addition of a pastrami and rye option. The bread is available in whole loaf form in a range of varieties.

Those with gluten sensitivities now have an excellent local option for their needs with a full line of gluten-free bread, bagels and donuts from Raegamuffin in Veazie.

Some additions are minor but important for particular customers, including offering stevia as a sweetener and heavy whipping cream for those on the Keto diet. Cherry berry kale smoothies have been added for those looking for a healthy boost, with options of added “milk” ranging from almond milk to yogurt to half and half.

 Part of the Dudleys’ success has been their commitment to keeping their prices low, a feat they are able to accomplish through their low overhead. “We price this for everyone to be able to come in daily,” Theresa said. “It’s not meant to be just a treat.”

While low in cost, the product is high in quality and service. “We’ve never had a coffee come back. That’s something I’m really proud of,” John said. Sandwiches also have a high accuracy mark which John attributes in part to the layout of the preparation station, located right at the counter. “It has to do with the effect that people are watching me make the sandwich.” While there are times that they get backed up due to a large number of orders – such as a recent nine sandwich, nine smoothie order – customers have been very patient with any wait times, which John explains as necessary. “They appreciate the honesty.” In recognition of the growing popularity of their hot, toasted sandwiches, the Dudleys have ordered a rotary toaster to enable faster preparation time.

 

With such a positive response, the Dudleys are already considering expansion plans. They’ll be in their current location for at least a year, but may be moving to a larger location at some point after that. Either way, they’ll be remaining in downtown Calais. “We’re just so proud to be here. I just love it. I really can’t imagine being anywhere else at this point,” John said.