Coveside Coffee in Woodfords Corner is a pleasant walk from my home, and I like to ramble, so I’ve been watching the place develop for more than a year now.

First, I noticed with pleasure signs announcing it was coming. Then, I watched as the ordinary white cape, which had been vacant for two years, was spruced up: The house got a coat of dashing blue paint. The front door, newly a fetching orange shade, was modified into a pandemic-friendly pass-through window. Daffodils were planted. South Portland artist Tessa Greene O’Brien covered the house’s street-facing exterior with an eye-catching, fanciful mural. Outdoor tables and planters transformed a depressing parking lot into an inviting spot for coffee and pastry.

Honestly, everything about Coveside, opened in May by husband and wife team Andy Nesheim and Zara Bohan, is inviting, from the friendly owners themselves, whom you are quite likely to find working the counter, to the sweet interior with its mismatched antique tables and grandma armchairs. Alas, you cannot sit there, for now anyway; when Maine’s COVID numbers began to rise in August, the couple ended indoor sipping and eating. But there are heated Huga seat cushions to help make eating on the deck palatable at this time of year.

White sweet potato-ginger soup, the day’s special, with sourdough bread at Coveside Coffee. Photo by Peggy Grodinsky

Coveside has a small but appealing menu of scones, cookies, croissants, hand pies, yogurt parfaits, quiche and more (the latest menu addition, in time for Hanukkah, is knishes from Benreuben’s Knishery), and, of course, coffee and other hot and cold drinks. I visited on a raw December day, so the daily soup, white sweet potato-ginger ($5 for 8 ounces), was the obvious choice. Made by Nesheim, it was creamy (but had no cream) with a warming kick from the gingerroot. It came in a blue coffee cup, accompanied by two thick slices of chewy, wheaty bread from Solo Cucina Market in South Portland, one of many good local suppliers that stock the coffee shop.

The soup would have made a fine lunch in and of itself, but I couldn’t resist the day’s daily salad – farro with beets, feta and pumpkin seeds ($8.50), the sort of dish I often cook myself but was pleased not to have to. It was exactly right, with chewy farro, salty feta giving the earthbound beets a lift, everything nicely dressed.

After I’d eaten, I stepped inside again for a chai latte ($4.75) and to browse the shelves of tempting local goods – T-shirts, pottery, children’s books, honey, tea pots and coffee cups. Bohan said they’ve been surprised at how well the goods are selling. I wasn’t. It’s a great selection, and barista Rosie Alleva did a stellar job with the labels. Like good shelf labels in a wine store, they made me want to snap up the items described.

A customer at the counter on an early December day at Coveside Coffee. Photo by Peggy Grodinsky

Nesheim and Bohan live, and are raising their two small children, in the neighborhood, which is no surprise given Coveside’s evident community spirit. The couple hosts occasional pop-up weekend markets in their parking lot with local crafts, food trucks and art activities for kids. On Wednesdays, they offer after-school specials: Any child who buys a cookie gets a free glass of milk. The logo shows a stork delivering a cup of coffee (or is that a Maine version with a great blue heron?)

Ask about the coffee shop’s suppliers, and Bohan has a kind word for everybody. Take this characteristic comment about Deer Isle’s 44 North, which supplies Coveside’s coffee beans. “We love them, good coffee and great people,” Bohan said.

Even the decision to close indoor dining was intended as a family-friendly policy, Bohan said, noting the growing number of young families in the neighborhood. “In a pandemic, what does family-friendly mean? For us, it feels like part of that is maintaining masking and being safe,” she said.

“Honestly, the community part came first,” said Bohan, who used to do student programming at Bates College (her husband was a teacher). “Coffee was the vehicle to do the community part. It’s such a foodie town. There are so many amazingly talented foodie people. We’re not necessarily the foodie person. We’re the neighborhood person.” She paused and laughed, “I probably shouldn’t be downplaying the food service elements of our business.”

Rest assured, the food and coffee are excellent.


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