The Maine Bean & Tea employee Greg Swaney mixes a chocolate frappe. Credit: Melissa Lizotte / Aroostook Republican

CARIBOU, Maine — A West Coast entrepreneur has launched Aroostook County’s newest coffee shop.

Washington state native Patty Jo Thompson opened The Maine Bean & Tea on May 16 as a neighborhood shop where coffee fans can enjoy their favorite brews and pastries.

Thompson’s business is the second coffee shop to start in Caribou this year, after Ruska Coffee opened in February. The new space provides another local retail option and gathering space, which business owners have said are crucial to help Caribou grow its downtown areas.

Thompson and her husband, Patrick, both originally from Washington, moved to Aroostook in early 2020. The couple began visiting The County after Patrick was stationed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, as a Border Patrol agent.

“This place was a big, open space that gave us a blank canvas to work with,” Thompson said. “It’s a great gathering place. That’s something people have said we need locally.”

Thompson previously owned and operated a hair salon while out West. A big coffee fan herself, she wanted to give back to The County people that have welcomed her, she said.

Patty Jo Thompson (second from right), owner of The Maine Bean & Tea, stands with husband Patrick Thompson (right), son and employee Greg Swaney of Presque Isle (second from left) and employee Sarah Harrigan of Presque Isle. Credit: Melissa Lizotte / Aroostook Republican

The Maine Bean & Tea is located at 46 Fort St., near the intersection of Fort Street and Route 1.

The shop sells hot and cold coffee, frappes, lattes, cappuccinos, slushies and various teas, including hot, iced, chai, black and loaded tea. Breads and pastries from the Connor-based business Lovely Loaves are on sale, and Thompson hopes to partner with another local baker soon.

Thompson would like one day to open a second location in Presque Isle. She saw the Caribou space as a chance to meet more people from Aroostook County.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in the area and we buy some of our products locally,” Thompson said. “[The city of] Caribou has been very helpful throughout all of this. We’ve gotten some great feedback.”

Jennifer Ellsworth is one of the many nearby residents who have made The Maine Bean & Tea a regular stop.

“It’s nice to have a small shop like this pop up,” Ellsworth said. “It’s helpful for working people who want to stop in.”