Portland cafe switcheroo. Goodbye Crema, hello Arabica Two!


The next time someone says “Let’s meet at Arabica for coffee,” your new reply is, “Which one?”

While no one was looking, Crema Cafe on Commercial Street changed its name to Arabica Coffee. Yes, just like the corner cafe on Free Street, a few blocks west.

Coincidence? Re-branding? Confusing?

“When we opened that location in 2012, the owner of the building was our partner,” said Cathy Walsh, who runs the coffee roasters and dual cafes with her husband John. “We needed a separate name, but we bought our business partner out over a year ago and wanted to make the two stores one company to bridge that gap.”

The Walshes (is it just me, or is almost every roastery run by a married couple in Maine?) opened Arabica Coffee on Free Street in 1995 and ran a roastery on Commerical Street to supply their snug European cafe with fresh bean juice.

After much success introducing the half asleep public to the stark difference between deli swill and peak roasted, perfectly extracted and chocolate-ly espresso (at a time when most cities Portland’s size were lucky to have a Starbucks), they opened Crema Cafe on lower Commercial in 2012 and moved their roasters here.

“We wanted to show people that we roast our own beans,” said Cathy, who is equally proud of the in-store bakery, where scones and vegan hits like peanut butter brownies appeal to the home crowd.

creama two

It was no secret to coffee devotees where their beans were coming from. Bags of Arabica line the shelves. But after a few years of branding Crema as a stunning spot to get your joe on under soaring ceilings with harbor views, it’s now Arabica, two. Though Crema’s Facebook page has not caught up yet.

New name, same spot and alluring aromas.

 This post has been updated

Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.