Café @ 130 Main is a local community coffeehouse located in the downtown village of Winthrop in Maine, a small community in the heart of the state. Winthrop is about 10 miles west of the state capital of Augusta, surrounded by multiple lakes and ponds which are popular with tourists, causing the community to more than double in size during the summer months. f @ 130 Main is a small, family owned business run by Clark and Kim Phinney and their children. Kim and oldest son Alex are the primary staff, with Clark and the couple’s other children, Zack and Samantha, helping out as well.
The café features a full menu as well as specialty drinks such as vintage handmade sodas, fruit smoothies and specialty frappes. Being a coffeehouse they naturally have a full line of coffee based drinks featuring coffee from a local area micro-roaster including two exclusive roast blends, Rambler Roast, a strong city roast, and Norcross Breeze (a point of land on the lake around the corner from the café) which is a light/blonde roast. They also have a full line of desserts and baked goods including Maine Made Italian gelato.
We asked Clark some questions about his Suspended Coffees experience. Here is what he told us:
SC: Clark, what made you choose to participate in the Suspended Coffees movement?
Clark: Food insecurity is a major issue for Maine and for our region of the state and, as a family, we have already worked to help alleviate that in our community. We have always given a portion of our profit on every bag or K-cup we sell of our first exclusive coffee roast (named Rambler Roast after our high school’s mascot) to our local food pantry, and we’ve also donated our unsold breads and desserts to the pantry since the first week we ever opened. When we learned of Suspended Coffees we knew it was a perfect fit for us and our way of doing business, and that it would allow us to make a difference daily, not just at the once a week food donation.
SC: Do you have any memorable moments or stories to share?
Clark: The very first coffee we gave away will always stick with me. We had a late summer arrive in Maine this year so one kinda chilly day a young man came in for a coffee and asked how much one would be. As he was digging for spare change to try and see if he had enough, it was such an awesome feeling to be able to simply hand him a cup and say he was all set. After explaining that it really was all paid for and how, the look on his face was priceless; relief, gratitude and the ability to enjoy a good cup of coffee all mixed together.
SC: How are you implementing the SC program (chalkboard, token, etc)?
Clark: We started with a simple little notebook at the register where we jotted them down and then crossed them off as we gave them out. That quickly grew into sticky “post-it” type notes on the side of our reach-in cooler by where we keep the cream and sugar for coffees. We continue to grow and have customer support so we are soon going to develop that space into a dedicated area for the stickies, right next to our entry door.
SC: Who’s participating and claiming a suspended item?
Clark: We are a very diverse community so those supporting and claiming reflect our neighbours. Single moms and dads, long term unemployed or under employed, or even hard working folks for whom a premium cup of micro roasted coffee like ours, or even one of our baked goods like a cookie, is a rare treat (if ever). Our town offers free lunches in the summer to kids at our municipal beach just around the corner from us, and even some young people have come to claim a note during the day when they needed something to drink. We have some fixed income elders in our community, and a coffee or tea or a treat now and again helps to brighten their day. Food insecurity, hunger and need doesn’t have a stereotype, so every person coming into our café has potential to claim a sticky note.
SC: What are the benefits you’ve seen (eg improving community spirit, more customers coming in because they’ve heard about it, awareness, media coverage, staff morale, etc)?
Clark: We have a very committed and close knit community, we even have a hashtag #WinthropStrong that is frequently used by folks to demonstrate how united the community is. We say “one town, one family” a lot as it really is our entire community helping each other out as if we all were one family. We have great support for this concept and it allows us and many others to be able to have conversations about hunger and food insecurity, and how to build community, that we might not otherwise be able to have. While we might be the first business in our area to do this type of thing, we do not want to be the only one or the last one – we want to spread this far and wide.
SC: Do you have any additional thoughts to add?
Clark: Until you do this you have no idea of the impact it will make, both on you as an individual as well as on another person. My favourite quote is attributed to Mother Teresa: “We change the world one person at a time, ourselves and the face God puts in front of us.” This is our little opportunity to make a change, even for a moment, and seize that opportunity God puts in front of us for positive change.
If you would like to learn more about Café @ 130 Main, you can visit them at 130 Main Street, Winthrop, ME, 04364, USA; find them on Facebook at facebook.com/cafe130main; and follow them on Twitter @cafe130main.