Influential enough that it was referenced in a 2013 article from The New York Times on Frederick’s burgeoning food scene. With 80 varieties of beans sourced from all over the world, the coffee shop — now almost 20 years old — has been a vital factor in the city’s growth as a foodie destination. The beans, roasted on premises by the owner and founder Serina Roy, are served at downtown destinations including Volt, The Wine Kitchen and The Orchard.
Roy, an introverted but indispensable presence behind the counter, has been building the coffee shop steadily since she left her job as a Frederick police officer.
“It’s grown organically based on what the customers want,” she said of the brand, which started as a roastery run from a converted cargo trailer in New Market. When she moved into her current space on North Market Street, a former motorcycle warehouse, the plan was to keep selling pre-bagged roasted coffee.
“But very quickly, people were stopping by for to-go cups,” Roy said. “They were insistent. So, then I had to start offering food. Then music. Each step was driven by demand.”
At this point, Roy is used to bringing firsts to Frederick. In the late ’90s, she was the first openly gay officer to serve on the Frederick Police Department. Later, she became one of the first roasters in town to visit the countries where she sourced her beans. Thanks to a local Rotary grant, she recently brought water recyclers to coffee farmers in the Santa Maria Valley of Colombia. Last Sunday, she left for a week-long trip to Ecuador, where she’ll tour and board with local growers.
For 72’s Pride issue, Roy sat down to discuss the coffee business. But she also talked identity, coming out, and the end of her tenure as a police officer — an experience that helped lead to the formation of Dublin Roasters.
Roy: I was born gay, for sure, and I think my parents knew that I was gay back in second grade. But I officially came out around 24. Before that, I got married. My husband at the time, we were best friends in high school.
You just didn’t know what it was back then. That was a long time ago, in rural New Hampshire. There was no gay. The only TV show we had was, like, ‘Kate and Allie,’ and they’re supposedly divorcees living together. They weren’t gay. So, we didn’t really know what that was or what to call it.
When I married my husband, he was absolutely my best friend. But one day he said, ‘You know, we’ve been married for a while.’ We had a one-year-old. And he said, ‘There’s always been something in you that’s not completely happy and completely open. Maybe you should just take a chance and go figure out what that is.’ He was meaning, ‘Maybe you’re bi[sexual].’ I was like, ‘I don’t even know what to say.’ I didn’t even think about it until then.
I think I was just kind of repressing it. Like, this was my life, this was my marriage, this was forever. I had a child. But we had moved to Frederick, and I became friends with a woman I worked with at the Frederick Coffee Company. My husband, he let me pursue that. To see if it worked. In those days, we still had telephones attached to the wall, so I call her and she goes, ‘What? What are you saying? This is Serina, married, with the one-year-old, right?’ And I was like, ‘Yes. Do you like me?’ And she goes, ‘Yes! Is that possible?’
We were both so young. She was headed off to Smith College that weekend, so I followed her for a few days. After that, I definitely knew: Yeah, I was a lesbian. I decided to drive home instead of fly home and just had a good cry for a while. I knew I was going to miss my husband. He was my best friend. So, there was a grieving process.