If Lewiston had the equivalent of Cheers, that Boston bar where everybody knows your name, it would be the Orange Cat Coffee Company on Center Street in Lewiston.
My coffee pot sits idle for weeks at a time and I use my coffee press occasionally (with either Orange Cat or Starbucks Anniversary Blend) but prefer to pull the iron handle on the cool door and be greeted by wonderful smells and friendly people.
I have friends that I met at the Orange Cat. My friend Dorothy and I are friends because of the OC and Facebook. It’s a new world. So new, in fact that they Tweet their soup and salad specials each morning like a lunch menu back in school. See below for their Facebook and Twitter links.
Robin Faulring and Michael Broderick opened the OC back in 2004 and they were the only folks who worked there. They now have 9-10 employees depending on the time of the year. They do not look for baristas with experience; rather they look for friendly local people who have a connection with the community.
I asked Michael about the culture of coffee and he explained that people experience coffee today much like they experience wine. They have discovered new flavors from regions long ago unfamiliar. I remember, back in the day, when we considered it fancy to buy “Columbian” Maxwell House coffee (of course that was when a “pound” of coffee actually weighed a pound). Today we can sample coffee from around the world and know that like wine, the climate, soil conditions and growing practices change the flavor of coffee bean. Michael says we now enjoy, experience and experiment with coffee.
They have many offerings each day – always Roastmaster Rick along with a single origin coffee. The next two are flavored (I don’t prefer coffee that tastes like fruit – that’s what tea is for). Jamaican Me Crazy is an all time favorite of my son who has frequently requested it ground and sent to school for brewing. The bottom two are decafe coffees.
Michael knows people come to the OC for a break in their routine. I know people come there because the coffee is of high quality and the baked goods are made with organic ingredients. They both have seen many wonderful relationships develop over time and are often awed by the sense of community felt in Lewiston and Youngstown.
Robin and Michael believe in the community and are very philanthropic. They began a charity called Pour the Love inspired by Jonathan Miller, a local student who passed away two years ago. JMill’s parents are regular customers and their daughters have both been barista’s there. With Pour the Love they find ways to center donations, to give larger amounts to a few community based charities.
They have many people who begin their day waiting in the fun line where they are most likely greeted by name. Robin and Michael believe their business can be simply defined by the incredible community. I have them to thank for the opportunity to perform on the front lawn of the Orange Cat during the Jazz Festival. My singing partner Loretta Frankovitch and I started Accidental Jazz with the encouragement of Robin who gave us the gig.
When I go in there I feel like the mayor. I am not alone. Everyone seems to know everyone there even if they never knew them before meeting them at the Orange Cat. I am looking forward to Christmas Eve morning where everyone sits around a great big circle sharing a few minutes together before celebrating Christmas with their loved ones.
For me, those wonderful minutes between getting in line, ordering, paying and putting the milk in my cup are my social life, five minutes at a time.
See you at the Orange Cat!
Have a yummy week.
Next week: I Blame D’Avolio for my Olive Oil addiction!