Retail General Manager

Who manages the managers? The general manager, of course! As CBD’s General Manager, Gray oversees all retail operations and the individual store managers. A Portland native (he went to Cheverus High School!), Gray joined CBD in September of 2022, after spending ten years in the coffee industry (including a stint with a certain Seattle-based chain). He has also worked at a rural hardware store, as a cellphone salesperson, and as an art mover/handler, but, he says, “Coffee always drew me back in!” When not immersed in coffee, Gray spends as much time as humanly possible with his wife and son and working on his art: paintings and found-object sculptures. Says Gray, “I love to make things with my hands, which is why I love to be on bar and make drinks at CBD!”

How he takes his coffee: For my daily drive, get-up-and-go cup in the morning, I’ll drink a single origin light roast either black or with a little oat milk. It’s all about efficiency and a clean and clear cup of excellent beans. Every day is an ongoing opportunity to refine my palate and gain a deeper understanding of the complex flavors of the coffee we make.

What he likes best about Portland: We are so heavily connected to our physical surroundings: the salty air, the heavy winds, the hot summers, and the cold winters… you cannot live in Portland and forget about where exactly you are. This quality makes the people of Maine hearty, tough, and ready for anything, and yet there’s a kindness that you can feel when you meet anyone from the city… it’s us against the weather, which makes us all on the same team… sharing a cup of coffee together huddled in the warmth of the café on a cold winter day or basking in the sun on a balmy June afternoon. Man, I really love Portland!

His favorite writer: Henry David Thoreau, because he believed in abandoning waste and illusion in order to discover life's true essential needs.

Three most important lessons he’s learned working at CBD:

  1. “There are no emergencies in coffee.” — Jeremy Ravar, CBD Director of Coffee and Wholesale Operations
  2. Everything we do here is about culture—if it doesn’t feel right for CBD, keep going until it does.
  3. A cup of coffee can literally and/or figuratively change someone’s life, whether it’s the farmer in an origin country who’s able to be financially stable because we invested in the fruits of their labor or a world-weary Portlander whose day is completely turned around by a warm smile from a barista and chat in the café… Never underestimate the power of coffee!