Boasting the most coffee shops per capita, Portland is no stranger to the bean. Yordprom Coffee Co. owner Tom Yordprom knew this when he opened his coffee shop five years ago. In fact, he had the epiphany of opening a coffee shop while sitting in an Old Port coffee shop brainstorming ideas for a then-planned Thai restaurant in Portland's West End neighborhood. “The idea of opening a coffee shop was a last-minute decision,” he says.
Five years later, after a rocky first few years when he had to lay off all his employees and run the shop himself, working 80-90-hour weeks, Yordprom Coffee Co. is now a bustling coffee shop catering to West End residents and passersby alike, featuring organic coffee and tea, offering locally made donuts from the Holy Donut and breakfast bars from East End Cupcakes, and specializing in Yordprom’s own housemade light Thai fare.
“I didn’t even know what ‘latte’ meant before opening the coffee shop,” Yordprom muses with a shy grin. It was only upon realizing that the current space was too small and the restaurant business is too risky, the idea of starting a coffee shop began to have so much appeal to him. “That is when I started doing my homework about everything coffee-related,” Yordprom says. Though a coffee novice at the time, Yordprom is no stranger to the food business. Prior to opening Yordprom Coffee Co., he owned and operated Saim Grille, a Thai restaurant in the Old Port, from 2000-2008.
With the vast array of coffee shops in Portland, from Tandem Coffee Shop, to Arabaca Coffee Co., to Bard Coffee and a slew of Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, Yordprom doesn’t think his coffee shop is special, but that it’s different. “We have a patio in the back, we offer great organic coffee, and we serve homemade Thai food, which people love. The fan favorites are Yordprom’s own housemade green chicken curry and our Tom kha kai (coconut chicken) soup. Yordprom’s personal favorite drink is the classic cappuccino, while his customers’ favorite is the Vietnamese iced latte, a drink made by combining strong coffee with sweetened milk and chilled on ice.
Offering up organic coffee from around the world, as well as Maine’s own Wicked Joe Coffee, Yordrom Coffee Co. is not about impressing customers with swirly designs in the coffee froth, but instead serving consistently good quality, organic and reasonably priced coffee. It’s a neighborhood coffee shop – a place you can go to everyday on your way to work and to meet up with friends. Though the shop is gay friendly, Yordprom emphasizes that his goal is to serve everyone.
Originally from Chachoengsao, a province in Thailand, Yordprom has lived in Maine for 20 years and has called Portland his home for 17. A current resident of the West End, the shop owner’s own local favorite Portland haunts include Boda, Pai Men Miyake, Mi Sen, and Congress Bar & Grille.