BEVERLY — Since pouring their first cup of coffee at Atomic Cafe on Cabot Street in Beverly in 1996, John and Andrew Mahoney have watched their restaurant business grow. The brothers opened a second cafe, in Marblehead, 10 years later, and started roasting and serving their own coffees about seven years ago.
Buying their own beans and roasting them locally allows Atomic Cafe to keep their blends fresh. According to John Mahoney, they "embrace the seasonality" of the coffee bean, timing it so they will run out of inventory in time to buy from the latest crop.
The Mahoneys now also roast coffee for other businesses. The wholesale side of their operation, which occupies its own space in Salem, is the fastest-growing part of their business.
Along with their success has come an appreciation for the local community, which has grown to love coffee as much as the Mahoneys do. Atomic Cafe is showing their gratitude by selling special blends to raise money for Beverly nonprofits. So far, these include Harborlight House, which provides assisted living for low-income seniors, and Beverly Main Streets, a business group focused on making downtown Beverly a better place to work and live.
We spoke with John Mahoney recently about Atomic Cafe's cause-related coffees.
How did you start selling these special coffees?
Harborlight House actually approached us, Executive Director Andrew DeFranza. There was a coffee roaster in the Midwest doing social marketing. Andrew and I thought it would be a great idea.
How long ago was that?
We've had the Harborlight House blend a couple of years now. We just rebranded it, changed their coloring and the logo on the bag.
Where can you buy it?
We're selling it in the Beverly store, and we're working toward it being purchased online at their website. Andrew lit the fire under us.
How many bags of the Harborlight blend did you sell last year?
Last year, 250 bags.
How have you designed the label?
It's a private label, so our logo's at the top, at bottom is the roast date, when that coffee was packed, and the whole body of the label tells who it's for. The Harborlight logo is on it, and the fact that we donate $2 of every bag sold.
When did you start with the second coffee?
We just started with the Beverly Main Streets blend, just launched it around Christmastime.
Why did you want to support Main Streets?
Main Streets helps our cafe in so many ways — by improving the downtown, and getting people into the downtown from other areas with promotional events.
What kinds of improvements do they make possible?
Just this past year, we applied for and received a facade improvement grant, so we're able to redo the exterior of our cafe. We did an annual donation to them anyway. I asked Gin Wallace, the director, why don't we do a blend?
How much goes to Main Streets from the sale of each bag of coffee?
Two dollars for every bag of coffee sold goes to Beverly Main Streets, just as an additional thank-you. The organization relies strictly on donations. Beverly's been so great to us for us going on 16 years. This is a very small thank-you.
How many bags have you sold?
We've already sold over 100 bags of coffee after a couple of months.
And you have the same relationship with Harborlight?
Two dollars a bag, same with Harborlight. Our goal for each of those organizations is, we would like to build on those numbers. We'd like to see them — our donations — see that somewhere between a $500- and $1,000-a-year range.
What size are the bags?
A 12-ounce bag of coffee. Come in and grab it off the shelf. They're originally packed as whole beans. People can bring it up to the counter, and we'll grind it for any method they use at home, drip or French.
What kind of coffees are these?
Each of them are a two-bean blend, 50-50 of the two components. It's important to note, both are fair trade.