FORT KENT, Maine — It isn’t quite as eye-catching as the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, but a Fort Kent business owner’s vehicle is turning heads and giving other drivers pause to slow down on the streets of northern Maine.
Red Devil Roast Coffee Co. owner Alan Susee purchased a Ford Police Interceptor SUV that was once in the state’s fleet of sheriff’s vehicles.
With some creative signage, Susee has made the vehicle resemble a sheriff’s cruiser, with the word “coffee” written in brown on the sides rather than “sheriff.” Rather than “to protect and serve,” the SUV’s front corner panels read, “to brew and serve.”
Police agencies sometimes do have people who try to emulate them, but it’s illegal to tell people you are a law enforcement officer — or to act like one — when you’re not. Susee said he reached out to some local state police troopers he knows to ensure he is not breaking any laws with the vehicle’s design.
“In a nutshell they told me you can look like a cop, just don’t act like a cop,” Susee said.
Some law enforcement customers even joked with Susee that he should park the Interceptor on the street to help them out a bit by deterring speeders.
And that has happened a few times. Susee said that the first instinct of people who notice his vehicle is to tap their brakes to slow down a little.
Susee founded Red Devil Roast in 2018 when his former business, Sears Hometown, was about to close down. Red Devil Roast features coffee beans sourced from a variety of countries and roasted in Fort Kent.
Susee sells the bags of coffee throughout the country via the business’ website, as well as at the Red Devil Roast Coffee Shop in Fort Kent. The coffee shop also sells smoothies and gluten-free baked goods.
Susee and Steve Daigle of Signs and Designs Plus worked on the vehicle design, which also reads on the back, “not a cop” and “no donuts onboard.” What was meant to be an attempt at creative marketing has gained more attention than Susee could have imagined.
Susee said even a trip to the local grocery store takes longer than usual because the vehicle draws attention from curious passers-by. Some have their photo taken with the vehicle.
“It’s been a boatload of fun,” Susee said.
The “caffeine patrol unit,” as Susee refers to the vehicle, has also come with some unwelcome perks.
“The Ford Police Interceptor has a well-known profile on the highway,” Susee said.
While traveling south from Fort Kent on Route 161 to visit his son’s farm in Woodland, Susee parked the Interceptor at a 45-degree angle in an area on the side of the road known for good cell phone reception.
Susee said “a whole parade” of motorcyclists riding Harley-Davidsons spotted the vehicle.
“They were all hitting the brakes as they drove by me. I had to drive behind them at like 45 miles per hour. It took like an hour to get there,” Susee said.
Susee said he would at some point like to drive the coffee cruiser to various law enforcement departments throughout the state to drop off free bags of his “Back the Blue Brew,” which is one of his signature coffees.
That coffee is described on the bag as “a smooth, full-bodied coffee with notes of Integrity, Honor, and Courage.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated which sheriff’s office the vehicle used to belong to. While formerly used by a Maine sheriff’s office, it was not clear which division it belonged to.