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Never too latte: Portland coffee purveyors keep percolating

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Never too latte: Portland coffee purveyors keep percolating

PORTLAND — While plans call for Starbucks Coffee Co. to open its third downtown shop in the coming weeks, coffee lovers seem unperturbed by the java giant's growing footprint in the city.

The Seattle-based coffee company is opening a shop at 145 Commercial St., according to Katie Allen, a real estate broker who helped arrange the deal last month on behalf of the landlord, Fleming Portland LLC.

Construction has already begun on a 2,000-square-foot space in the Evie Cianchette Building between Market and Silver Streets, Allen said. The company plans to open the store by mid-April.

Starbucks’ other two downtown locations are at 594 Congress St., across from the Portland Museum of Art, and at Middle and Exchange streets. That's not the same proliferation as in larger cities, where Starbucks stores are sometimes within a block or two of each other, but it's close.

Off the peninsula, Starbucks also operates stores at the Northgate shopping plaza, at the Portland International Jetport, and on outer Forest Avenue, near Morrill's Corner.

The chain recently announced it would add 1,500 stores in the United States over the next five years, although only the Commercial Street store is planned for Maine.

Portland is already brimming with coffee shops, including several independent stores that have opened in the past year – Tandem Coffee Roasters, at 122 Anderson St. in East Bayside; Speckled Ax, at 567 Congress St.; and Crema Coffee Co., on Commercial Street between Franklin and India streets.

Steven Karan, an East End resident who stopped by Crema last week, said the independents shouldn't feel threatened by another Starbucks.

"I wouldn't worry about a Starbucks affecting places like this. They're apples and oranges," he said. "Starbucks will always have their customers, I guess. But I don't see how a chain like that will make that much difference."

A couple blocks away, at Coffee By Design, a coffee house at 67 India St., shift supervisor Croix Galipault shared that view.

"There's more nuance and niche to it than just having another coffee shop nearby," he said, noting that Coffee By Design and Crema are both successful despite being so close to each other.

"We're both here, and we're both doing well," he said.

A Starbucks on the waterfront might attract visitors and newcomers to the city who aren't familiar with other Portland shops, he said, because "everyone has a sense of what Starbucks is."

"The clientele (Starbucks) is going to get is going to be tourists," Galipault said . "That money is up for grabs, and it would be nice to get a chunk of it, but we already have a strong, stable following."

Still, Starbucks has its own fans. They include Cheryl Cooney, of Boston, who ordered a latte at the Congress Street store on Saturday.

"I'm a creature of habit," she said. "I'll go out of my way to find a Starbucks, because I always have the same thing. In most cities, I don't have to go far."

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or whall@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.