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Coastal Roasters Offers Lots Of Perks And A Brew-tiful Location In Tiverton, R.I.

Coastal Roasters in Tiverton, Rhode Island
Coastal Roasters coffee shop in Tiverton, R.I.

Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article updated on 11/24/18.

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Just outside 1791 Main Street in Tiverton, R.I., the unmistakable briny scent of the coast competes with the universally appealing aroma of fresh roasted coffee.

The sign outside Coastal Roasters almost says it all: "Hand roasting fresh coffee since... this morning." Other notable elements, however, come into play that resonate instantly upon arriving at this coffee destination by the water.

On a brisk, misty late summer morning, customers steadily frequent Coastal Roasters in high numbers similar to the most popular coffee chains. Working professionals, stay-at-home moms, retirees, visitors to the area and pretty much all walks of life arrive at this quirky, eclectic
micro roaster of single origin and custom blend specialty, organic and fair trade coffees created daily in small batches. After receiving their coffees, some walk with a fast pace back to their cars to leave an idyllic world for the daily grind. Others stay a while by slowing things down, taking a deep breath of the refreshing coastal air and sipping an equally refreshing cup by the peaceful Sakonnet River (the ocean is very close by). It's almost like being on vacation as the waterfront location forces one to relax in a colorful Adirondack chair or weathered but fully functional rectangular or round picnic-style table. The coastal soundtrack of gentle breaking water, the southern New England summer breeze, boats bobbing up and down in the water and birds chirping replaces the typical coffee chain playlist of hipster music droning in the background.

Dining patio by the Mount Hope Bay at Coastal Roasters in Tiverton, R.I.
Splendid water views at Coastal Roasters coffee shop.

Donald Machado, who co-owns Coastal Roasters with his ex-wife, Lisa, often comes to work in a t-shirt or sweatshirt, shorts and sandals. Machado might have that just-got-back-from-the-beach look, but his caffeinated business mind and strong work ethic exemplify the prototype for a successful, passionate small business owner.

Donald Machado roasts fresh coffee at Coastal Roasters in Tiverton, R.I.
Donald Machado roasts coffee at Coastal Roasters.

The staff of eight works hard to keep up with the customer flow while staying personal and authentic. Tiverton and neighboring Little Compton are genuine, friendly communities where everyone seems to know each other. That casual vibe can be felt in the pleasant words and conversations exchanged at Coastal Roasters between staff and customers. The living room size of Coastal Roasters fosters a scene like that of a smaller home where the modest square footage brings a family closer together. The one room might be cluttered and somewhat cramped, but the overall feeling is as energizing and uplifting as the coffee served.

Inside Coastal Roasters in Tiverton, R.I.
Like somebody's living room: Coastal Roasters coffee shop.

"I couldn't have envisioned at the beginning Coastal Roasters' success being so driven by the community," said Donald, 56, about his coffee shop's evolution since opening in July 2002. "It has become a nexus for Tiverton and Little Compton. It's like an unofficial community meeting place. It's more than just the coffee here."

In a paint-by-numbers business world, however, Coastal Roasters has it all wrong. They have no web site. Part of the building's foundation resides in the river. The coffee shop has no dedicated indoor seating for the 400 to 500 customers a day during peak times. Machado roasts up to 50,000 lbs. a year of coffee for the retail and wholesale side of business within the less than 500 sq. ft confines.

Coffee beans at Coastal Roasters in Tiverton, R.I.
Coffee beans everywhere at Coastal Roasters. Photo credit: Coastal Roasters Facebook fan page.

People could care less, however, about Machado's business road less taken. Their cup of tea (sorry, that phrase fits better here) is the coffee, community and setting.

"The 'Uncranky Yankee' (Rhode Island coffee syrup with choice of dairy) latte has been getting me through days for years now," said long-time customer Kristi Lee Frade who lives in Westport, Mass. "I drive 20 minutes past several other coffee shops just to be able to enjoy the atmosphere in and around Coastal Roasters."

waterfront view from Coastal Roasters coffee shop in Tiverton, R.I.
Coastal Roasters' waterfront setting.

The coffee is affordable, too -- not always the case at specialty coffee shops.

"Most of our coffees are cheaper than the doughnut chains," said Donald.

The long and winding road that led to Coastal Roasters

Donald and Lisa Machado, co-owners of Coastal Roasters in Tiverton, R.I.
Donald and Lisa Machado, co-owners of Coastal Roasters.

Donald possesses a background as eclectic as Coffee Roasters. Growing up in the New Bedford-Dartmouth, Mass., area, he graduated from U/Mass Dartmouth with a degree in electrical engineering. He worked as a community organizer and then in sales management at Xerox in northern Virginia with all the perks and benefits of corporate life and all the downsides, too: crazy long and short-distance commutes, and, in the words of Bob Seger, deadlines and commitments and feeling like a number. Donald eventually grew tired of the corporate scene.

"I couldn't stand it," said Donald, with a dead-serious look confirming that sentiment.

On a 1992 work trip to Seattle, Wash., Donald said he "got to like coffee" after visiting Starbuck's in Seattle ( the flagship location). Donald eventually started home-roasting with a popcorn popper for family and friends and called his hobby, Coastal Roasters. Moving back to native southeastern Massachusetts, Donald and Lisa (previously working for Bell Atlantic) decided to give it a try with Coastal Roasters as a brick and mortar coffee shop. At a storefront once serving as a surf shop and fish market, Donald and Lisa had no idea how the business would do, but, nevertheless, took the risk by first completing a store makeover. He hadn't applied, however, for cafe licensing, virtually "gave away coffee" in the first month and had little else to offer beyond cups of Joe.

"I basically had no cafe business experience," said Donald. "I was 40 at the time and could have found other work. We didn't know what we were getting into by starting our own business. We began to figure things out, though."

In 2005, however, Donald stepped back from the business for almost two years due to personal reasons. Lisa stepped in taking on both daily retail operations and the wholesale business with the assistance of a much expanded staff. During this period, the business experienced virtually exponential growth year over year. Lisa added on not only new staff, but also new baking partners and a much larger, diverse beverage menu (more on that shortly).

“The cafe you see today is a direct expression of Lisa’s vision and efforts during this time,” said Donald.

Coastal Roasters in 2018

Lisa still oversees the daily retail operation and all its components. Donald manages the wholesale business component along with sourcing and roasting all coffee products, as well as managing facility repairs and maintenance, and financial analyses.

Largely through word-of-mouth, Coastal Roasters has gradually become the most visited place for coffee in the Tiverton/Little Compton region.  The menu features 22 signature blends in colorful bags named after well-known locations in the area, iced coffees, espressos, lattes, smoothies and hot chocolate, as well as delicious baked goods from Pain D'Avignon in Hyannis, Mass.

Coffee from Coastal Roasters in Tiverton, R.I.
Fogland Fogcutter coffee named after a local beach.

"I stop there every time I’m heading down to South Shore Beach in Little Compton," said Kayla Whipp, of Fall River, Mass. "My favorite drink is the frozen mint chip with a shot of espresso. Their coffee is great, the service and atmosphere is always upbeat, and the fresh pastries are always amazing."

Chocolate scone from Coastal Roasters in Tiverton, R.I.
Chocolate scone from Coastal Roasters.

Seventy percent of the coffee sold at Coastal Roasters is organic and Fair Trade with 30 percent of the revenue coming from wholesale. Donald and Lisa have 24 clients, which include The Nook Coffeehouse in Fairhaven, Mass. Joppa Fine Foods in Newburyport, Mass., Green Bean in New Bedford, Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass., Lees Market in Westport, Mass. and Clements' Marketplace in Portsmouth, R.I. Additionally, Donald and Lisa donate 10 percent of their profits from Coastal Roasters to the local arts, as well as education, history and preservation projects in the area. They also help sponsor the local Singing Out Against Hunger concert series to raise money for local families in need of food.

The local media has taken notice of this phenomenal coffee shop. In 2007, Yankee Magazine named Coastal Roasters as a top roaster in New England. Rhode Island Monthly Magazine included Coastal Roasters in the "Best of Rhode Island" in 2007 and 2018.
Reviewers have given Coastal Roasters 4.5 stars on Yelp and TripAdvisor, at this writing. The Specialty Coffee Association caught the buzz about Coastal Roasters, too, billing them as a top coffee retailer in the United States.

Espresso from Coastal Roasters coffee shop in Tiverton, R.I.
Espresso drink from Coastal Roasters coffee shop. Photo source: Coastal Roasters Instagram page.

"It has been truly fulfilling to become part of the community in Tiverton," said Lisa. "There's no better feeling than to be accepted and loved by the community."

Coastal Roasters is located at 1791 Main Rd., Tiverton, RI. Tel. 401-624-2343. Open daily 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Facebook fan page: Instagram: @coastalroasters,

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Coastal Roasters features fresh roasted coffee and water views in Tiverton, R.I..

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