Two emerging Massachusetts-based beverage businesses are combining their respective operations under one roof.
Atomic Coffee Roasters and Cold Craft Juicery have partnered to open a new facility in Danvers, Mass. that will serve as the central production and distribution hub for both independent companies.
Beverage industry veteran Mark Mahoney, president of Thirsty Ventures and co-founder of craft cocktail mixer brand Powell & Mahoney, served as the catalyst for the pairing of cold-pressed juice brand Cold Craft Juicery and Atomic Coffee Roasters, the latter of which was founded by his brother John. Thirsty has been an investor in the two companies, which will remain separate entities, for several years, having met Cold Craft founder Daniel Nathan four years ago during the early stages of his maple water company, Filtered by the Forest. In bringing the two brands together, Mahoney said he saw an opportunity for each to use the facility as a platform to scale.
“The foundational element of cold chain was very important for both companies,” Mahoney said. He noted that Powell & Mahoney was built on a similar collaborative model, in which its sales team initially shared responsibility for both food service and retail accounts before being split into dedicated units. “Being able to have a hybrid front office — meaning we can share resources for sales, admin, truck drivers, warehouse people, etc. — that’s really important for two startup companies to have that synergy from the get-go.”
“Pooling resources allows both companies to afford best in category equipment and our facility is perfect for cold chain products,” John Mahoney wrote in an email to BevNET. He added: “Shared resources are ideal for ‘front office functionality’ and these two categories couldn’t be more complimentary for the channels we are focused on.”
With the new production capability, Atomic Coffee will continue its pivot from a retail cafe operator to a versatile coffee wholesale business. The new facility will have a broad range of capabilities such as nitrogen infusion, keg and bag-in-box packaging, and private label production.
For Cold Craft, Nathan told BevNET in an email brand the new facility and investment from Thirsty Ventures will help support growth for his company’s line of “super premium versions of simple approachable juices,” primarily aimed at hospitality and foodservice channels. Retail SKUs are also planned for launch at some point in the future, Nathan wrote.
John Mahoney said that the facility’s close proximity to high-pressure processing (HPP) company FreshAdvantage was a strong factor in the decision to move forward. During a tour of the new plant last week, he said that HPP will be an important differentiator for Atomic Coffee’s forthcoming ready-to-drink cold brew products, which will have a shelf life of 120 days and range from 10-12 oz. to 1 L sizes. The company plans to begin rolling out its RTD line this summer beginning in New England before expanding further south along the East Coast.
The Danvers facility will also give Atomic and Cold Craft enhanced R&D capabilities, which include exploring other categories, such as cold brewed teas, and functional coffees made with ingredients like medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and cannabidiol (CBD). While Atomic will be primarily focused on its own branded products, the new facility will allow the company to explore limited co-packing operations. Coffee roasting operations will remain based in Salem, Mass., but Mahoney left the door open for possibly integrating that into the new facility at some point in the future.
“My role and responsibility is really from advisory standpoint and putting together front office functionality for both companies,” he said. “We are hiring folks that can help them with order-to-cash process, purchasing, order processing, and billing so operating partners don’t have to deal with that.”
Mahoney also offered an update on Powell & Mahoney, which has moved production from Vermont to a Chicago-based co-packer. He explained that, in addition to providing certain logistical challenges due to geography, Vermont Bottling Company — in which he was a majority investor — required a multi-million dollar capital infusion in order to meet the brand’s growing needs.
“To scale up to a high speed bottling capability and achieve those numbers that the brand needs to be the number one player in that segment, we had to make some difficult business decisions,” Mahoney said. “We have been able to centralize our distribution to Chicago, which is helping us on our freight and purchasing, and now our flavor companies are more local.”