Rob Thibeault (left), assistant manager at Hub Coffee, serves a latte as staff member Elizabeth Winslow waits on a customer. The coffee shop opened in June on Main Street in Presque Isle. Credit: Paula Brewer / The Star-Herald

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A Presque Isle church’s community outreach venture is now a for-profit coffee shop built by volunteers.

Hub Coffee is the dream of Framework Church in Presque Isle. In a similar fashion, Real Life Church in Pullman, Washington, opened The Well Coffeehouse earlier this year, The Daily Evergreen reported. For both, income will fund expenses while the remainder goes to outreach.    

It’s the first for-profit business of its kind in Aroostook County, and perhaps in Maine. The process was about the community coming together to create a business that beautifies and unifies Main Street, Hub leaders said. The concept dovetails with the city’s desire to draw more businesses and activity downtown.

Hub Coffee manager Dave Rowe and daughter Victoria Rowe pose at the newly opened beverage shop on Presque Isle’s Main Street. Credit: Paula Brewer / The Star-Herald

“We want this to be a space where people can come and get away, take a deep breath. And hopefully this will encourage other small businesses and entrepreneurs that you can do something,” Hub Manager Dave Rowe said Wednesday.

Hub Coffee opened in June after more than a year of renovations at 342 Main St.

Besides bringing life back to an old building, Rowe and daughter Victoria think it will fulfill a need for a community gathering place where people can meet, work, study or just relax.  

“People are hungry for connection, community and authenticity,” Victoria Rowe said. “And to have a space that’s comfortable, with fresh coffee — it’s been a good connecting point for me to fall in love with my town all over again.”

Built in the early 19th century, the building once housed the local chamber of commerce and apartments. Part of the structure was destroyed in a 2013 fire.

The church was looking for a new way to engage with the community. When the building became available to rent in the spring of 2021, an anonymous $100,000 donation and their own fundraising efforts enabled the group to start work.

Rowe, who lived in neighboring New Brunswick at the time, came on as manager last May, so he and his wife, Vicki, moved to Presque Isle.

Church members began clearing trees and demolishing parts of the old structure. Carpenters, plumbers and electricians volunteered their time. The business hired local contractors for the finish work.

Volunteers from the church and throughout the community helped during the whole process, from teens through retirees, Rowe said.

Despite pandemic supply chain issues that kept delaying its opening day, Hub Coffee began serving customers in June and will hold its grand opening from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday.

“Reception has been so good. There’s a vibe here,” Rowe said. “People say, ‘I don’t know what it is, but there’s something different about this place.’”

The bistro-type shop has had visitors from a variety of places, including an Australian pilot who found Hub on Google when he was here on a brief stay. Now he communicates with Rowe and comes in whenever he is in the area.

A freshly made latte sits on a table at Hub Coffee in Presque Isle while customers enjoy coffee and conversation. The business, located in a renovated early 20th-century building on Main Street, opened in June. Credit: Paula Brewer / The Star-Herald

The menu features various coffees and teas, specialties like chai, lattes and cappuccinos, smoothies and treats from local bakers. The shop employs 14 people.

Traffic was brisk on Wednesday afternoon, as people congregated both on the deck and inside.

Julie Stephenson of Washburn took advantage of the Wi-Fi, working on her laptop as she enjoyed her coffee. She comes in a couple of times a week.

“It’s a very nice atmosphere where you can come in and work,” she said. “The people remember you and are very friendly.”

At a table near the front windows, Linda Gahagan of Castle Hill and Ginny Blackstone of Presque Isle conversed.

“It’s a wonderful atmosphere where you can meet people. It’s something the community needed,” Blackstone said.

Ultimately, Dave and Victoria Rowe see the venture as a way to serve more than coffee. They want to serve people.

There’s a lot of need in the world and in the community, and no one can fix everything, Dave Rowe said. But through hospitality, Hub Coffee wants to be a part of the solution.

A person holds out a cup of a coffee latte.
Served by Rob Thibeault, assistant manager at Hub Coffee in Presque Isle, a latte becomes a work of art. Credit: Paula Brewer / The Star-Herald

In the future, Hub intends to expand its capabilities to hold meetings and events. Its leaders also plan to start a “kindness board,” where people can post what they need or what they have to offer — rides, material goods or help with household tasks, for instance.

Victoria Rowe said they’ve seen other places where people purchase an extra beverage to give away. Tickets for those could go on the board as well.

“If we can be a conduit for kindness, that’s cool,” she said.