ELLSWORTH — In the Deane Street neighborhood you can find Precipice Coffee by the faint aroma of roasting coffee beans. The scent is faint because of the singular roaster that owners Bill and Maggie Iannuzzi installed this week. This zero-emission roaster is electric instead of gas-powered, and no carbon and very little coffee bean emissions are released. This is good for the environment and for the neighbors, Maggie said, and is the first of its kind in Maine.
When people look confused by the description, she just tells them, “Think Tesla,” and they understand, she said.
The couple, who moved to Ellsworth from Alexandria, Va., in March, performed a pandemic pivot from doing what they love — roasting coffee and selling craft beverages — as employees to owning their own business.
Bill worked a six-year stint as a roaster with Commonwealth Joe but under COVID-19 restrictions found himself the sole roaster driving into Washington, D.C., every day, as the company shifted to online sales and supplying cafes. Maggie, who left bartending and beverage marketing and sales behind her, said “The shift is what led me to say, ‘We could do this ourselves.’”
Finding the perfect location also helped. The 56 Deane St. address is the former address of The Crafty Baker, now transformed into a coffee shop.
“We kind of had a dream,” said Bill, who has been coming to Maine every summer for years.
He has been joined by Maggie since 2013, who added, “We realized how much this place has to offer.”
“When we saw this building [for sale], it made our five-year plan a right-now plan,” Bill said.
The plan revolves around the Bellwether Roaster installed this week and Ethiopian, Guatemalan and Peruvian coffee beans, which cover the gamut of light, medium and dark roasts. Maggie prefers a light roast, with its fruity tones, while Bill prefers — coffee.
“I just need coffee,” he laughed before adding, “I don’t put a lot of cream and sugar, so I like a medium roast. I’m looking for that coffee flavor.”
The Bellwether roasts 5 pounds of beans at a time, so Precipice Coffee will offer 5-pound specialty blends for discerning (or any) coffee lovers. And the Iannuzzis are checking out their competition as they prepare to open.
“We’re drinking everybody’s coffee,” Maggie said, noting a lack of light roast coffee in the area. Filling that market gap and their zero-emission roaster makes Precipice Coffee “a whole different thing in the coffee market,” Bill said. Although the Iannuzzis’ business plan relies on wholesale and retail sales, coffee to go is part of it. And, in time, espresso drinks will be on the menu, too.
And then there is the name — Precipice Coffee — connecting the year-round business to one of their favorite places, Acadia National Park. In turn, they discovered, their coffee shop is a top item in Google searches for Acadia’s Precipice Trail. The Iannuzzis credit Shannon Byers at the Maine Small Business Center for her assistance, including advising them to create an online presence long before the shop opened its doors.
“We feel very lucky with the location we have,” Bill said. “We’re here for the community, not just for the tourists.”
A soft opening over the July Fourth weekend will be followed by the official opening on July 9. Stop by between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. for a hot or cold brew, the couple said.