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Tuesday, 01 November 2022

Maine in Summer

Written by Russ & Emily Firlik
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What could be more iconic than Maine? Maine in summer!


We began our trip at Two Lights State Park, a popular destination for both residents and visitors to the greater Portland area who enjoy the state’s rocky coast. The park opened in 1961 and encompasses 41 acres of rocky headlands. The sweeping views of Cisco Bay, rolling surf, rocky coast and the open Atlantic Ocean are a definitive Maine experience. The park's name originated from the twin lighthouses, built in 1826, and located nearby at the end of Two Lights Road. One of these towers was the subject of Edward Hopper’s iconic painting. Fresh lobster rolls, haddock plates and veggie burgers are served at the Lobster Shack at Two Lights.

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Hopper painting


Our day was not complete without exploring the shores of Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth. Portland Head Light is located at the entrance of the shipping channel into Cisco Bay. The lighthouse was commissioned by George Washington in 1791. In addition, this historical building is adjacent to the 90 acre park, ocean views and cliff paths along the coast which makes for a thrilling journey. To cap it all off, we learned that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow used to frequent this lighthouse and gather inspiration for his poem The Lighthouse (excerpt):


The rocky ledge runs far into the sea,
And on its outer point, some miles away,
The Lighthouse lifts its massive masonry,
A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day...


"Sail on!" it says, "sail on, ye stately ships!
And with your floating bridge the ocean span;
Be mine to guard this light from all eclipse,
Be yours to bring man nearer unto man!"



Coffee Shops


We love to visit parks, bookstores, museums and cafes while traveling and like to rate the coffee shops 1-5 stars for coffee, ambiance, service, cost and location.


Coffee by Design is an institution in Portland, as they have been around since 1994 and were recognized as Roast Magazine’s 2020 Roaster of the Year for the entire country. They have four coffee houses and their own roastery in the city. Their roster of beverages includes single origin, peak roast, dark, holiday and partner blend. Featured coffees rotate but include Guatemala Atitlan Finca, Honduran Copan Finca, and Burundi Kinyovu Washing beans. Coffee by Design is deserving of 5’s in four categories: excellent coffee 5, many indoor tables are used by single worker bees and limited outdoor setting 4, service- friendly and efficient 5, cost 5 and location 5 with adequate parking across the street. Coffee aficionados say they are one of the top coffee roasters in Maine and the US and we heartily agree.

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The Speckled Ax, Matt Wood Roasted Organic Coffee, is a sheer ideal example of industrial chic. From Matt we learned that he uses vintage Italian Petroncini fired with local hardwood to exhume the rich flavors. “There is no way to automate the burning of the wood, but he tracks the roasts with thermocouples and a computer.” Combining his unique roasting process with premium sourced coffee beans, the customer receives a delicate fine blended espresso. He has two cafes in Portland, we chose the one located in the downtown Arts District. Instead of sitting in the spacious seating area, with the hip industrial interior, we sat outside with benches around a tree stump. The excellent small selection of pastries from Portland baker Atsuko Fujimoto are worth having with the coffee. Baristas were knowledgeable and efficient with their performance. We rated all 5’s for the Speckled Ax. Excellent, in all five categories.

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Next to Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood and Tandem Coffee and Bakery. An establishment that everybody will immediately reference when you talk about excellent coffee in Maine. There are two Tandem cafes, we chose the one that was a former gas station-cum-laundromat. They manage their bean roasting at their East End roasting plant. The conscientious barista worked efficiently and courteously. Though the hours are limited – from 8:00 until 1:00, closed Monday and Tuesdays. The pastries, cookies, pies and loaf cakes are all baked on premise by the professional baker, B. Holt. They serve a relatively light blend coffee; no sweetener is required. Also, there are many other bean blends to choose from, for example, Huehuetenango, Guatemala, Guji, Ethiopia, Acevedo, Colombia and Nyeri, Kenya. We arrived around 10:00 and there was a line out the door. However, the line moves rather quickly, and the coffee and pastries are delivered to the outdoor tables. No problem rating Tandem Coffee and Bakery with all fives! Coffee, Ambience (plenty of outside tables), service (friendly), cost (appropriate for the quality and service), and location (one can find parking on the streets nearby).


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Last modified on Tuesday, 01 November 2022

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