A Warm Welcome from "MAL"

A Warm Welcome from "MAL"


I am Mary Allen Lindemann, owner and co-founder of Coffee By Design (CBD). I want to extend to you the warmest welcome.

Coffee By Design is a mission-driven, sustainably sourced, specialty coffee roastery and retailer based in Portland, Maine, about to celebrate our 30th anniversary! Amazing to think about how what we originally thought was possible as a small business has now become so much more!

When we opened our doors in downtown Portland, in 1994, the city was in the thick of a recession, and storefronts on Congress Street had a 40% vacancy rate. Many thought we would not survive, but there were those who believed we offered something special. That was the start of an extraordinary journey, defining what it truly means to call ourselves a “community coffee company.” Listening and learning all the time as we grew, we have maintained our core values while deepening the ways in which we engage our farm partners, team members, and customers.

From the very beginning, our business model has been to provide the best quality coffee, educate our community about specialty coffees (and the stories behind them), and use our power as a small business to move forward initiatives that support people and the planet, improving how we all live well together—locally and worldwide.

Coffee By Design adheres to the Brundtland Report’s definition of sustainability. This report, also known as “Our Common Future,” highlights the interconnectedness of the environment, economic growth, and social equity. Since opening, we have focused on quality coffee, building genuine, long-term relationships with coffee growers and farms, fair pay, and, locally, supporting the arts and building social equity and community. The belief that you can grow a business and remain committed to ethical, sustainable practices is central to our business philosophy. 

We work closely at the point of origin with farmers, co-ops, and organizations such as the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA), to promote a vision of “thrive, not just survive.” We believe that trade, not aid, is the best path to economic stability, and we have worked hard to put our ideals into practice and help improve quality of life in various coffee-growing communities around the world. Through collaborative project work in Colombia, Guatemala, India, and Rwanda, to name just a few, we demonstrate to these communities that we are interested in doing more than just sourcing great coffee. We are actively exploring ways in which we all can live better lives and pass that legacy on to our children.

As we approach our 30th anniversary, we’re still excited by opportunities to learn, grow, and keep improving, doing good work and building new partnerships. As it did with virtually everyone reading this, the COVID pandemic slowed our roll a bit: as 2020 dawned, we had just celebrated our 25th anniversary and been named Roast magazine’s 2020 Roaster of the Year. But it also afforded us an opportunity to catch our collective breath as a company and reassess. My former partner realized his priorities had changed, and I acquired his half of the business, leaving CBD a proudly 100% woman-owned business. We also recognized that we are no longer scrappy upstarts, but an established, high-profile Maine business with a rich legacy of quality, experience, innovation, and community leadership. We have a responsibility to continue using our extensive web of connections, both locally and globally, and our strong voice, to advocate for positive change in the world. We believe more than ever that in sharing a cup of coffee, we can do great things.

I hope you join us on our journey to see what the next 30 years hold. I believe you will find that our reputation for excellence in the coffees we offer, the personalized service we provide, and heartfelt commitment we have made locally and around the world is worthy of your business. As a community coffee company, we couldn’t exist without our farm partners, team members, customers, friends, neighbors, and collaborators, and we strive every day to live up to those invaluable relationships.

Thank you for your support.

Mary Allen Lindemann

PS: If you have any comments, questions, compliments, or complaints, we always love to hear from you. Please use our contact form to get in touch! 

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