Frozen in amber, while neighboring Biddeford morphs into the new Brooklyn, sleepy Saco is getting a wakeup call. That swift kick is courtesy of Quiero Cafe, opening May 1 in Pepperell Square. This cafe translates to “I Want Coffee” and that is all caffeine-starved Saconians need to know.
Located behind Rapid Rays, off Main Street, this sorely missing downtown cafe could be the jolt this town needs to regain its pulse. There’s Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks on heavily trafficked U.S. Route 1 and the beloved, but cramped Fernleaf Bakery, still Saco’s coffee scene has been slow to ignite.
Now a Colombian espresso machine, resembling a retro copper rocket ship, is whirring, whizzing and steaming its way to life. Serving a Colombian house roast, crafted by Biddeford-based Maine Coast Roast, espresso drinks and hot chocolate, Quiero Cafe promises to delivers the goods.
The space (last home to an Italian bakery that went bust) sat vacant season after sad season.
“We were passing by and saw it empty for the longest time,” said Alejandra Herrera, who was working at the Blue Elephant catering company on the same block and Run of the Mill Public House and Brewery on the nearby Saco River.
Her husband Carlos Guzman of Colombia is the chef. Since moving to the states three years ago Guzman trained at Taco Trio in South Portland. (York County tamale lovers rejoice!). The cafe fronts Latin cuisine from Chile and Colombia with Mexican accents.
Breakfast and lunch includes empanadas — sweet, vegetarian and chorizo stuffed — tamales and arepas (the latter is corn tortillas served sweet with hot cocoa). The cafe is also whipping up smoothies and fresh, tropical juices like carrot and orange.
“We’ve made a place where we would like to eat and drink. It is street food that’s fresh, easy and tastes good,” said Herrera, a native of Chile. “We are trying to use local ingredients.”
The interior has been stylishly updated. Exposed brick walls, wooden beams, a breezy open space, modern drop lights and colorful chairs makes “I Want Coffee” a new rallying cry in these parts.
Quiero Cafe, 8 Pepperell Square, Saco is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.