We are Jane and Gussie, the two gals from Maine who started this business in 1994 determined to produce the perfect cup of coffee. We believe it is the roasting technique, small batch roasting, that makes our coffee taste so great. Please try it and let us know what you think. We would love to hear from you. For those of you who insist on knowing where this coffee is made, we're located in North Berwick, ME.
To contact us please go here.
To find Carpe Diem near you, please go here.
If you are still curious about how Carpe Diem came to be, read on.
ONCE UPON A TIME, a long, long time ago there were two hard working, underpaid, women who decided to break away from the "evil stepbrothers" to start their own coffee roasting business. Those two women had been working together for quite a while and had managed to learn a lot about running that coffee roasting business. They approached the evil stepbrothers about a buy-out. They were told that two girls could never run a coffee roasting business.
TWO WEEKS LATER, after having worked out a notice, our heroes, Jane and Gussie, made a pact to meet twice a week in an attic apartment to hammer out a business plan for Carpe Diem Coffee Roasting Company. Jane and Gussie spent the summer working several part time jobs and researching vendors and prospective customers for their new company. The two spent endless hours up in that stuffy little apartment typing away at the business plan. At that time neither had many computer skills and didn’t know about spread sheets or excel programs. When cash flow projection time came they spent a lot of time with a hand held calculator (solar powered, no less) punching in numbers and chanting calculations to the typist.
In an attempt to learn as much as they could in the six months they had allotted to write the plan they joined the Specialty Coffee Association of America (S.C.A.A.). What a fabulous organization. Through the association they attended a seminar for aspiring coffee roasters in New York City (Probably the Hottest weekend in New York’s, un- air-conditioned, history, and subsequently have gone to several coffee conventions sponsored by S.C.A.A.
The pair enlisted the help of S.C.O.R.E. in Portland, meeting weekly to review the latest draft of their business plan. They met with several bankers for additional help with the plan and to have a mock meeting to request a loan. Through Key Bank they learned of a Women’s Pre-Qualification Loan Program and took advantage of that. Coastal Enterprises, in Wiscasset, Maine, assisted in securing that guarantee.
AND THEN THINGS GOT INTERESTING. Timing is everything. The original idea was to be up and running by Christmas in the hopes of making a big splash. That didn’t exactly happen. Holidays have a tendency to move meetings back. The heroes in our story soon realized that the loan was not going to happen in time to order and receive the coveted coffee roaster. They had to raise some money. Through the generosity and blind faith of family members they were able to secure enough money to put a down payment on the roaster and the first and last month’s rent on a location. It hardly seems possible that just over tweny years ago they spent weeks driving around neighboring towns in search of the right place to locate their start-up business. The catch to the whole deal was that they needed a seven-year lease on a property as a prerequisite to attaining a business loan. Now imagine trying to interest a landlord in signing a seven- year lease despite the fact that neither lessee had more than fifty bucks between them? That presented the proverbial chicken before the egg problem. After numerous drive-bys, they finally narrowed it down to two places. One was in a newly renovated building, on route one, in Moody, Maine. The Moody place was totally ready to roll, centrally located to the target market, and reasonably priced. They could find no real objections. The other was the Commercial Block building in “downtown” North Berwick. To say the least, the North Berwick location needed work. They headed for the beach to work out the conundrum. With their best business-minded brains squarely placed on each of their shoulders they deliberated over the choices weighing the pros and cons of each place. They had a fairly hefty list for the Moody location and precious little going for the North Berwick spot. They had been trying so hard to justify that Moody location but in the end both admitted that they just plain liked the North Berwick place better. It meant weeks of emptying out years of collected stuff from the owners of the store front just to be able to start building the parts needed to produce Carpe Diem Coffee. They soon learned how to patch ceilings, erect walls, and sort of hang doors. They have never regretted that decision. They were greeted with open arms and continued support from this community. It seemed whenever they were stumped by some obstacle that starting a coffee roasting business throws in one’s way, magically just the right person would present their self to save the day.
On a chilly, clear day in mid December of 1994 the Dynamic Duo proudly presented themselves to Key Bank in Ogunquit for their closing. After twenty minutes in the waiting room they were told that the lawyer for the bank had double booked his time and could not make it for the closing. They rescheduled for the following day. As fate would have it, the coveted roaster arrived on the next day, a mere 45 minutes before the second scheduled closing. One would think that was fortuitous. It would have been if the trucking company had put the roaster IN the building. No, they left the crated roaster on the sidewalk, got the required signature, and drove away. Hmmmm, it was time for the saws-all and extension cords. And this was one of those times where just the right people showed up to help. It seemed out of thin air appeared a bevy of helpful men who disassembled the packing crate, removed the front door, rolled the roaster in and gently placed it on the waiting concrete pad, replaced the front door, and left. The Dynamic Duo had no time to get all cleaned up for their second appointment and wound up showing up for the closing in ripped, paint splotched, T’s and jeans! Heroes wear all sorts of costumes.
On January 12th, 1995, Carpe Diem Coffee Roasting Company sold their first twelve pounds of coffee to Bread and Roses Bakery. The bakery still does a whopping business with Carpe Diem.
Carpe Diem has enjoyed steady growth throughout the years. Once just a two person show it now employs two full-time and one part time employee. After that seven year lease was up the company relocated to the other side of town for five years.
They have since built their own roasting facility in North Berwick. And, they live happily ever after.