Augusta's first Aroma Joe's has owners with a unique backstory

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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Come Monday, a new coffee shop will be open in Augusta.

Maine-based Aroma Joe's will have it's first location in the Capital, right next to The Big Apple convenience store on Western Ave.

But it's the owners' backstory that really sets them apart.

"We all have careers in the medical field, but often outside of work, we're hanging out and discussing how great it would be to have the opportunity to be our own bosses," said Jessica Pray, one of the three co-owners.

Pray, a dental hygienist, is married to Ross Pray, a pharmacist, who became friends with pharmacist Stephen Pracher after the two of them graduated pharmacy school.

"We were kicking around ideas for probably six months to a year," said Pracher.

"And then one day, I was going through the Aroma Joe's in Sanford, which I did every single morning for my wife to get a latte, and I happened to see that they were now franchising," said Ross.

Two years later, in 2015, they opened their first location in South Portland, all while working full time jobs.

"There's basically no free time," said Ross. "So when you're not filling prescriptions, you gotta be dealing with staffing issues or you gotta be dealing with making sure the product is there."

"On my days off from CVS, I'm doing Aroma Joe's," said Pracher. "That's just how it is, and I'm okay with that."

In the process of opening their second franchise, they needed to put in more hours with Aroma Joe's, so Jessica has now become full-time, working on their two franchises.

She says being born and raised in Maine makes being an employer even more special.

"It's really exciting for us to have the opportunity to employ people, to give them jobs, and have them grow with us," said Jessica.

They all say although it's tough work, having financial freedom is the driving force.

"The payoff in the end is definitely worth it," said Ross. "To have something that you can actually call your own is worth everything that we've sacrificed for it."