Coastal Roasters/VisitingNewEngland small business partnership - Local Small Business Stories
Coastal Roasters Offers Lots Of Perks And A Brew-tiful Location In Tiverton, R.I.
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
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.
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
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
the typical coffee chain playlist of hipster music droning in the
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
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
family closer together. The one room might be cluttered and somewhat
cramped, but the overall feeling is as energizing and uplifting as the
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
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
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 everywhere at Coastal Roasters. Photo credit: Coastal
Roasters Facebook fan page.
People could care less, however, about Machado's business road less
cup of tea (sorry, that phrase fits better here) is the coffee,
community and setting.
"The 'Uncranky Yankee' (Rhode Island coffee syrup
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."
Coastal Roasters' waterfront setting.
The coffee is affordable, too -- not always the case at specialty
"Most of our coffees are cheaper than the doughnut chains," said Donald.
The long and winding road that led to
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
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
most visited place for coffee in the Tiverton/Little Compton
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.
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.
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,
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
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: https://www.facebook.com/CoastalRoastersCoffee. Instagram: @coastalroasters, https://www.instagram.com/coastalroasters/?hl=en
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