Coffeeman returns to Common Ground Fair

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Doug Hufnagel serves up capitalism with a small c.

The coffee’s organic, the scene is freewheeling and the fuel is needed. The 39th Common Ground Country Fair kicks off Friday and our favorite vendor — Coffeeman is back in action brewing the tastiest mud. Doug Hufnagel and his 5-by-8-foot java-jalopy does not quit.

“It’s built on the idea of an old Western chuckwagon, the stand is made for turning out coffee as soon as possible,” said Hufnagel, a Belfast writer who started brewing pour-overs before they were safe for hipsters.

For 26 years, his coffee cart has served up caffeine and camaraderie to crowds entering the fairgrounds. Inside you’ll find Rock City Roasters, which we have nothing against, but outside the Coffeeman captures the laid-back, pre-Starbucks era of coffee for caffeine’s sake.

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“We take a theatrical approach to capitalism,” said Hafnagel, who creates a circus element with Merrypranksters at his side to keep your buzz rolling through wood-choping demos and livestock gawking.

Through the years his formula has not wavered: Water is heated by propane, beans are ground by hand; each cup is customized and affordable ($2 for small, $3 for large). Green Tree Coffee from Lincolnville is his not-so-secret weapon.

“It’s a fun product. People love coffee and they appreciate good coffee,” said Hufnagel, whose sea green trailer with counter culture stickers is a fixture at the Belfast farmer’s market. This is his third mobile coffee incarnation.

Besides joe, he brews black tea, herb tea and makes chai and mocha java. Food is plentiful inside, so beyond brownies and oatmeal Coffeman lives up to its name.

“People fuel up on the way in or take a break here,” said Hufnagel, whose adjacent European popup cafe atrracts campers, is a fun meeting spot and popular place to regroup between goat and yurt demos.

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Through rain or shine, the Coffeeman is like a beacon in the woods during this celerbation of all things organic, rural and natural. “It dovetails nicely with what the fair does. It’s small c capitalism,” said the entreprenuer, who considers his three-day gig a community service. “There is a lot to it. If it goes right there is money in it. I like coffee and people appreciate it.”

Look for the Coffeeman outside the Eastside parking lot from 6 a.m. to 8p.m. Friday, Saturday and “until the air goes out of the balloon on Sunday.”

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.