Could Rock City Coffee Roasters shutter?

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How can you fuel an art city without coffee?

Rockland’s main coffee roaster is in danger of closure. Rock City, the roaster and cafe on Main Street, needs to raise funds for a smokeless roaster or the coffee co. may have have roasted its last bean. The keeper of the midcoast caffeine flame since 1992 needs your help. Java lovers unite!!!

“It’s an urgent situation,” said owner Susanne Ward. “I have 23 employees here and am a vital part of the town.”

A few years back the micro-roaster came under fire for emitting pungent coffee roasting aromas (which we tend to like) into the streets. To combat the issue the owner raised their smokestack 15 feet to avoid violation of the city’s odor ordinance. Fast forward to 2015. A five-story boutique hotel is going up next door and the issue is percolating again.

So Saturday, Dec. 12 at 6 p.m., $10 is all you need (I’d throw in double) to help the roaster launch an Indiegogo campaign to purchase a new smokeless roaster (price tag: $100,000). The goal: $80,000.

The all-ages show featuring The Dolphin Strikers, First in Maths, and poet Dave Morrison is held at Rock City Cafe and all proceeds go towards the new machine. “If I can’t do business as a roaster here, my cafe can’t survive,” said Ward, 64. “It’s a tricky situation, and we have gone around and around with it.”

Rock City helped lure people to the former fish factory hub by masking the scent of sardines with dark roast. Now the tide has turned.
“If we moved to the industrial park, which we’ve considered, it would cost us more than the new roaster, and we would lose the retail business and foot traffic we’ve built over the years,” said Ward.

And worse:  “If we move out of Rockland, so does Rock City Cafe. If we close, so does Rock City Cafe. The roaster and cafe are entirely interdependent. So, as we see it, this is the best solution for us.”

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.