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May 15, 2018

South Portland bakery, coffee roastery opens Friday

Photo / Jim Neuger
Photo / Jim Neuger
Cape Whoopies, a gourmet whoopie pie baking company, and Rwanda Bean Co., a coffee roastery that is helping support Rwandan farmers, are partnering to open a bakery, roastery, coffee shop and cold-brewing facility on Cottage Road in South Portland this week.

A multi-function bakery and coffee shop will open this week in a South Portland building that had long been vacant.

Cape Whoopies, a gourmet whoopie pie baking company, and Rwanda Bean Co., a coffee roastery that is helping support Rwandan farmers, are partnering to open a bakery, roastery, coffee shop and cold-brewing facility at 185 Cottage Road.

The 5,293-square-foot building, which most recently housed the Cherished Possessions consignment shop, had been empty since November 2016.

Marcia Wiggins started Cape Whoopies in her Cape Elizabeth home in January 2013, eventually moving production to Fork Food Lab in Portland, an incubator for food-based businesses.

At Fork Food Lab, she met White Cap Cold Brew Coffee co-owners Ben Graffius and Tom Marlowe, who brew nitro cold-brew coffee using beans from Rwanda, and Michael Mwenedata and Nick Mazuroski who started Rwanda Bean, a coffee bean wholesale company, according to a news release.

Last year, the two coffee bean companies merged under the name Rwanda Bean Company and named their nitro cold brew coffee White Cap.

Friday, Cape Whoopies and Rwanda Bean will hold a soft opening of the 185 Cottage Road shop.

The companies will share the renovated space, which was built in 1959 as a grocery store.

The roastery will use bourbon arabica beans from Rwanda's mountainous Karora province, where Rwanda Bean Company founder Mwenedata lived until the age of 9. During the 1994 Rwandan genocide rebels stormed his village, killing hundreds of people, including his parents and five siblings.

Mwenedata lived in refugee camps before immigrating to the United States in 2009. He attended the University of Southern Maine, where he met Nick Mazuroski, who was already working in the food service business.

"I was determined to find a way to give back to the families in my homeland and to help coffee bean growers succeed. We reinvest 50% of our profits to help farmers, their families and communities," says Mwenedata. "Partnering with Marcia and Cape Whoopies and opening our Rwanda Bean flagship roastery and coffee shop in South Portland is now a dream come true."

Wiggins said she's "spent good, long years growing and perfecting Cape Whoopies with the help of family, friends and my husband Dennis, who has always been a good sport about wearing a hairnet while preparing the whoopie pies."

"Cape Whoopies and Rwanda Bean will now share a space in a wonderful community and continue to support one another," she said. "I like to think of South Portland as our international headquarters."

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