Atomic: The Unofficial Coffee Shop of the North Shore

By Cory Granger, Joyride Boston Sales

In Northern California there’s a cafe run by a collection of European expats who created their own interpretation of the beloved lounges of their last continent.

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The Irish pub; the Parisian cafe; the Spanish tapas bar: that comfortable, neighborhood spot where you can pop in for coffee in the morning, come back for a handmade lunch, and grab a top notch pint after work. The place where everybody knows your name and you’re welcome to relax with a book, make a few friends and while away the hours with the leisure of a house cat.

Back home in Massachusetts [your humble author, Cory Granger, currently hails from the Joyride Boston office, but lived for a time in Northern California] I’ve found that cafe experience nearly impossible to recreate. The oft-maligned blue laws, slowly eroding like the dunes of the Cape, still keep most areas from having a single watering hole that offers it all - from coffee and pastries to sandwiches and beers, all in keeping with a communal neighborhood vibe.

Certainly a few beer bars offer nearly-drinkable coffee, and the occasional art venue will have a passable glass of wine. Rarely are these the places where you want to spend all day with a group of jovial young employees, gazing at an idyllic small town’s main street.

Unless you happen to be in Beverly

 A peek inside Atomic's Beverly Cafe. Photo Credit: Atomic Coffee

A peek inside Atomic's Beverly Cafe. Photo Credit: Atomic Coffee

For those that have discovered the quaint north shore town replete with ocean views and fantastic culture, there is one location in particular known for offering up the best of all possible worlds: Atomic Cafe.

Since the Mahoney brothers first opened up shop 21 years ago they’ve expanded into 3 locations and a thriving mail order and corporate coffee roasting service. And they’ve done it the old-fashioned way: by being so consistently great that people simply want more of their products. Whether you’re enjoying the tart acidity of a direct trade Kochere while people-watching or heading back to the office kegerator for another pull of nitro cold brew to recharge during a 2 o’clock lull, you’re enjoying some of the best coffee available in New England.

Everybody knows George Howell - one of the true innovators who helped wake the coffee industry from decades of hibernation in the caves of “commodity”; and many know Barrington for their award winning Geshas (and their gorgeous “Steampunk” brewer on Newbury St), but the north shore has largely kept secret its own master class in how to build a community up on Cabot street.

Attached to one of the last beautiful vestiges of the ancient concept of “bookstore” via an open glass door, surrounded by restaurants, galleries and a local theater - and completely lacking the pretension of the more touristy destinations - Atomic’s view of Cabot street in downtown Beverly is reminiscent of Sonoma County with a touch of Cape Cod’s postcard appearance and the distinct north shore air that makes you want to pick up some Melville and a hot drink by a picturesque window.

 Atomic's second location in Marblehead, Mass. Photo Credit: Atomic Coffee

Atomic's second location in Marblehead, Mass. Photo Credit: Atomic Coffee

If you’re fortunate enough to spend a day in Beverly, make sure to stop by Atomic regardless of time. Coffee in the morning? The best around. Quick lunch? Delicious and affordable. Relaxing drink as the sun sets? Idyllic.

Or, for the rest of us, know that their coffee can be ordered on-line, found at select grocery stores, and quite possibly in the kegerator at your office. You’ll just have to supply your own pristine atmosphere and local IPA.