Andrew and John Mahoney crossed the finish line to early retirement at the same time, before deciding to team up for specialty coffee. After launching Atomic Coffee Roasters in 1996, they soon found themselves on the clock full-time, which promptly ended their hiatus. But hey, they’re not complaining!
Why did you choose the name Atomic?
“Back in 1996, it put you first in the phone book! We also liked it in the context of coffee, like it was sparking an energy amongst our customers and community. Our first cafe was ’50s eclectic and Atomic Era-furnished as a result.”
How did you get started roasting?
“We wanted to create a point of difference for ourselves and new roles in establishing a roasting company and wholesale division. We were frustrated with the lack of knowledge and barista skill in the area compared with other regions nationally and saw an opportunity to change that. We went out to Sandpoint, Idaho to Diedrich Roasters, took their roasting seminar, and bought our first roaster. We put it inside our store to educate our customers on our pivot to both roaster and retailer, and create that theatrical experience of watching us roast.”
What lessons from bike racing can you apply to roasting?
“Patience and diligence are the two words that immediately come to mind.”
What’s your relationship with the North Shore community?
“When we launched our brand in July of 1996 we were fortunate that our local community immediately embraced us, which helped enable our growth from a retail concept to a roaster and retailer. Today, our three facilities (cafe, roastery, cold brewery) are in three neighboring North Shore towns, but all within just a few miles of one another. We have strong local ties having grown up in the area, work with many local businesses, and support numerous charitable causes.”
Tell us about your team.
“We have an amazing team here at Atomic. Given that we have multiple facilities all working together, communication is critical in keeping our customers and clients well served and caffeinated. We are fortunate enough as owners that we are able to work together as a family and employ our children in the business in different capacities.”
What has been the biggest change in specialty coffee since you started?
“There have been a lot of changes since we first started out in the industry. Consumer education on specialty coffee, the explosive growth in roasters and retailers regionally and nationally, consolidation of companies, and the emergence of the cold brew coffee category to name just a few!”
What do you look for when sourcing coffee?
“Relationships and quality are the driving forces in our green coffee buying. We have a broad spectrum of roast profiles to suit every palate, so we purposely buy certain coffees for blending and others for light-medium single origin roasts. We embrace the seasonality of coffee in all of our buying and interchange accordingly with fresh crops.”
How has your family dynamic shaped your business?
“Our family dynamic has allowed us to grow as we play off each others' strengths and weaknesses. Family businesses come with their own sets of challenges, but ultimately it makes growth and success that much more rewarding.”
Describe Atomic in one word.
Where do you see Atomic in the next five years?
“That’s a tough one. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have seen us opening a custom 15,000 square foot facility dedicated to cold brew. As long as we’re staying true to our values, continuing to foster community, and putting out great coffee, I’ll be happy.”
— John Mahoney, Co-Founder of Atomic Coffee Roasters