Susanne Ward and her husband, Patrick Reilley, moved from California to Maine in 1992 with plans of starting their own business. They decided on a used bookstore and coffee house, as they felt both good coffee and good books were in short supply in their new neighborhood.
Located in the city of Rockland, Rock City (named for the limestone quarries that fueled the city’s growth in the 1800s) became a focal point in town for the artistic crowd, but Ward and Reilley struggled to find quality coffee that was reasonably priced. Within three years, they’d moved into a bigger space that could house the bookstore, cafe, and a space to roast their own coffee blend, which they began wholesaling. In 1999, they opened a roastery a few blocks south of the cafe outside of Rockland’s historic district, producing and selling their blend, which also supplied Rock City.