Elements: Books Coffee Beer

Detail of artwork from the wall at the back of Elements: Books Coffee BeerToday’s Coffee Spot, Elements: Books Coffee Beer, is the second of two from this week’s visit to Biddeford. Like Monday’s Coffee Spot, Time & Tide Coffee, it’s on Main Street, albeit a little further on, close to the junction with US 1, which runs through the northern part of Biddeford. Like Time & Tide, Elements is both a roastery (Elements Coffee Roasters) and coffee shop, although Elements predates Time & Tide by a few years, having opened in 2013, with Elements Coffee Roasters setting up shop in early 2018. And, as the name suggests, Elements: Books Coffee Beer also offers beer (and wine), and it’s a book shop too!

Elements occupies a large spot on the corner of Main and Jefferson, with the bookshop part of the business on the left, and the coffee shop part at the front and on the right, although there’s plenty of overlap between the two. Elements offers a standard (American) coffee menu, with the usual (large) sizes of both espresso-based and batch brew filter. There’s also a selection of around five seasonal single-origins on pour-over through the Kalita Wave. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there’s a range of bagels, small plates, ice cream and pastries.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Elements: Books Coffee Beer, on the left-hand side of this fine building on Main Street...
  • ... although it also goes a long way down Jefferson Street, all the way to the back in fact.
  • Nice mural, by the way.
  • Returning to the front of Elements, there are plenty of windows and what looks to be...
  • ... a single, recessed door in the middle, although on closer inspection, there's a...
  • ... second door on the right, which you can also use to get into Elements.
  • Stepping inside, this is the view from just inside the right-hand door, while here's...
  • ... the corresponding view if you enter through the 'central' door into the left-hand side.
  • Connecting the two halves of Elements is this magnificent counter.
  • When it comes to seating, there isn't much on the right-hand side...
  • ... just this two-person window-bar, occupying the windows between the party wall...
  • ... and the right-hand door, which it's screened from by a mobile bookshelf.
  • The bulk of the seating is on the other side. These four armchairs occupy the windows...
  • ... at the front. If you ask me, they are the best seats in the house!
  • They too are screened from their corresponding door by a mobile bookshelf.
  • The view looking from the armchairs towards the counter and the back of Elements.
  • The remaining seating is all down the left-hand side of Elements...
  • ... starting with a row of three two-person tables...
  • ... followed by a larger three- and four-person table towards the back.
  • There's another door at the back, which opens onto Center Street...
  • ... with a two-person window-bar at the back.
  • The door in more detail...
  • ... along with the cunningly-placed trapdoor.
  • The view from the back of Elements: Books Coffee Beer, from just inside the back door.
  • The seating runs down the centre, where you're surrounded by books.
  • How cool is this? I love the books and the natural warmth of the wooden floorboards.
  • The view from the other side, looking towards the counter (where there are more books).
  • And we're back at the front of Elements.
  • Although the right-hand side is the coffee part of Elements, there are more books here.
  • These extend down the right-hand wall, where they start to mingle with bags of coffee.
  • Coffee and books on display on the retail shelves opposite the counter.
  • The view across the front of the counter and into the 'bookshop' part of Elements.
  • I love all the bookshelves. And the books. It makes for such a colourful display!
  • The bookshelves come in various shapes and sizes...
  • ... some with open sides (like the last one) and some with closed sides (like this one).
  • I was particularly taken with these old wooden trolleys. What do you think?
  • Were they designed as bookstands, or have they been repurposed late in life?
  • The decor is also lovely, like this painting on the wall towards the back.
  • Other neat touches include the exposed brick above the supporting joist...
  • ... and, of course, there has to be a light bulb shot somewhere in here!
  • This shot nicely combines many of the elements.
  • This, by the way, is one of many recessed power outlets. Just lift up the lid...
  • ... and there are two sockets (although if you have a bulky adapter like me, it won't fit).
  • To business. The basic principles of Elements are on these cards on each table.
  • The counter, as seen if you enter through the left-hand side of Elements...
  • ... and seen here if you enter from the right. You collect your coffee at the front and...
  • ... order down the right-hand side, where you'll find menus and notices tapped up...
  • ... on the Perspex dividers.
  • There's also a menu on the wall above/to your right, although the drinks menu...
  • ... which is on the wall to the right of the counter, is actually behind you. The coffee is...
  • ... from Elements Coffee Roasters. The pour-over options are seasonal by the way.
  • Turning around, here's a view across the counter from in front of the till.
  • The alcohol menu is on the back wall of the counter...
  • ... while the day's batch brew filter option is on the far side. The pour-over bar is...
  • ... next to the till. This is the view from the other (book) side of the counter...
  • ... while this is me being cheeky and peeking over the top of the Perspex screen.
  • Finally, the espresso machine, a Black Eagle, is at the far end of the counter.
  • Talking of the espresso machine... This wasn't mine, by the way: it just looked pretty!
  • Instead I had a pour-over of the limited edition Dionysus, plus a blueberry muffin.
  • I'll leave you with my coffee, aged in bourbon barrels and served in a classic, black cup.
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Elements: Books Coffee Beer is on the south side of Main Street at its corner with Jefferson Street, occupying part of the ground floor of a building which dates back to 1860, part of the Biddeford Main Street Historic District. Although it presents a relatively narrow front on Main Street, Elements stretches all the way along Jefferson Street to Center Street at the back.

Effectively two long, tall, thin units knocked into one, from the street, Elements provides a unified front, with a central, recessed door, flanked by tall windows on either side, each with a pair of two-person tables in front. This is undermined by a second door on the right, while on closer inspection, what appeared to be the central door, is, in fact, the door for the left-hand unit.

The interior of Elements matches this split into two units, while at the front, the party wall has been knocked partially through, a supporting steel joist left exposed for all to see. The large counter, a near island affair, straddles the knocked through wall, neatly connecting the two parts.

The left-hand side of Element is very much the bookshop, shelves lining the walls on either side, but there’s also café seating here. Three two-person tables for a row down the middle, with a larger three-person table and an even larger four-person one at the back. Finally, a two-person window-bar occupies a tall, thin window to the left of a door in the back wall which opens onto Center Street. There’s also a cluster of four comfy chairs arranged around a low, round coffee table in the windows at the front, two waist-high, mobile bookstands screening it off from the rest of the shop.

The right-hand side is home to the coffee side of Elements, with seating restricted to a two-person window-bar which runs from the party wall to the second (right-hand) door. Books line the right-hand wall until it’s level with the start of the counter, after which the books are interspersed with bags of coffee and merchandising, while right in the middle of the wall is a large coffee menu, complete with pour-over choices. However, it doesn’t extend as far back as the other side, leaving room for an enclosed kitchen at the back.

The counter mirrors this split, with books occupying the left-hand side, extending halfway along the front. The rest of the front, where you pick up your coffee, has been left clear, while the till is around the corner on the right-hand side of the counter. This is followed by the pour-over bar and a two-group Black Eagle espresso machine, located on a short extension to the counter which sits between the end of the gap in the party wall and the start of the kitchen. Finally, the beer (and wine) part of Elements is at the back of the counter, where a large blackboard lists the options.

I’d already eaten at Time & Tide, so settled for a classic blueberry muffin to go with my coffee. Having had a cortado earlier in the day, I fancied a pour-over, opting for the Dionysus, a limited-edition Ethiopian Guji Guracho aged in bourbon barrels. Served in a large, black cup, it was definitely different, with a distinct, sweet, boozy flavour and a smell reminiscent of spirits. I’m not a bourbon drinker, so I took a sample home in my Frank Green Ceramic cup, where Amanda confirmed that it did indeed taste of bourbon.

I also brought a bag of the Kinesis espresso blend back with me, which has been going well through our cafetiere in the mornings. However, it’s really shone in its true role as an espresso, allowing me to get the most out of Amanda’s Coffee Gator Espresso Machine. Finally, I picked up an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe which I took with me to Germany, leaving it as a gift when I visited Ernst Kaffeeröster in Köln.

265 MAIN STREET • BIDDEFORD • ME 04005 • USA
www.elementsbookscoffeebeer.com +1 207 710 2011
Monday 07:00 – 18:00 Roaster Elements Coffee Roasters (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Window-Bar, Comfy Chairs; Tables (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 18:00 Food Bagels, Small Plates, Cakes
Thursday 07:00 – 18:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:00 – 18:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 07:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 07:00 – 18:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 25th April 2022

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1 thought on “Elements: Books Coffee Beer

  1. Pingback: Ernst Kaffeeröster, Bonner Straße | Brian's Coffee Spot

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