Kyle and Michelle Ng prepare an espresso drink Thursday at Traverse Coffee Co. in Hallowell. The couple opened the coffee shop on Water Street in July 2019 and recently sold it to Jaime and Steve Schorr. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

HALLOWELL — One of Kyle Ng’s goals within the first 10 years of his high school graduation was to start a business, and three and a half years ago, at age 28, he and his wife, Michelle Ng, made it happen when they opened Traverse Coffee Co. in 2019.

Now, almost four years later, they are hoping to fulfill a new goal by moving to Japan to serve as church missionaries.

“It’s pretty unreal,” Kyle Ng said. “It’s a blessing, for sure.”

The shop’s sale was finalized Thursday morning. New owners Jaime and Steve Schorr said they will keep the cafe open under the same name but plan to introduce a few changes as well, including a mobile operation.

Jaime Schorr, who is the former chief procurement officer for the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, and her husband, Steve, were regular customers of the 140 Water St. business before purchasing it.

The shop will close for about one week during the transition, shutting down Jan. 2 to complete licensing and inspections, and reopening around Jan. 10.


Michelle and Kyle Ng’s last day will be Dec. 31.

The Ngs met while attending college at Oral Roberts University, an evangelical university in Oklahoma, though Michelle grew up in the Augusta area and Kyle is from Houston. They were married in 2014 and lived in Houston before coming to Maine in 2019 when they had the idea to start the coffee shop.

Kyle Ng serves an order Thursday at Traverse Coffee Co. in Hallowell. Ng and his wife, Michelle, opened the Water Street coffee shop in July 2019 and recently sold it to Jaime and Steve Schorr. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

While brainstorming, they initially wanted to open both a coffee shop and, eventually, a church. It seemed like fate when Michelle’s father found two vacant storefronts next to each other on Water Street in Hallowell.

They moved at the end of May 2019 and opened Traverse Coffee Co. — named after a lyric of a song they sing in church — two months later, on July 3.

When the Ngs shared their next steps on the business’s Facebook page, they were met with dozens of comments from community members offering words of encouragement and saying they will be missed.

“I told my wife in the first few years as it hit harder, I couldn’t believe people were giving us money in exchange for coffee,” said Kyle Ng, who worked at a coffee shop in Houston before owning his own shop. “It blew my mind.”


Though they have each been to Japan a handful of times, they are not fluent in the language and plan to learn it before they leave in the summer of 2024, also giving them time to complete the paperwork needed to move. They plan to live in Iwate, a rural area on the northeastern coast of the country’s main island, and hope to build churches with other missionaries.

“We are excited and feel like we are doing what God called us to do,” Kyle Ng said. “We are preparing ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually.”

As for what is next for the coffee shop, the Schorrs have a lot in store for Traverse Coffee Co. They’re an Augusta-area family and have two children who attend St. Michael School in Augusta.

“We were coming in for a couple of years, and one day in the fall, Kyle (Ng) asked my husband (Steve Schorr) if we wanted to buy it. We immediattley said, ‘Yes!'” Jaime Schorr said.

Fitting with the store’s name, the Schorrs plan to incorporate Traverse Coffee Co. with a business they have already started, Drive Maine, a vintage rental car service. The goal is to create a traveling coffee operation out of a 1959 British Morris Minor van.

Additionally, they plan to keep Traverse Coffee Co.’s mission of donating 5% of the store’s proceeds. Though they are still in the process of choosing a charity, they would like the benefitting organization to be veteran-oriented.

Hallowell Town Manager Gary Lamb said he is pleased that the coffee shop is not going away and will continue to attract people to the city.

“I think it’s wonderful the business operation is largely going to remain the same. It’s a great asset to downtown, and I’m not a coffee drinker,” said Lamb. “It’s a wonderful place to go and chat with someone.”

As for what’s next for the Ngs, they said the community can follow their journey via a newsletter.

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