Atomic Coffee Aftermath

The sudden disappearance of Atomic Coffee from the Tallahassee coffee scene has been surreal. I worked there for around two and a half years, and I feel a bit responsible for the place, since I was there from the beginning. Admittedly, I have complicated feelings about it. I have a lot I could say on the topic, but I am going to stick with one point.

No matter how you felt about the place, there were some great people who worked there, and they probably employed as many coffee people in Tallahassee as every other independent shop combined. (To catch up those who don’t have context, Atomic Coffee was a very small chain with 3 locations, started in 2013. It billed itself as “Third Wave” (take that how you like), and was one of the first places in our medium-sized town to introduce pour-over coffee, and roasters such as Counter Culture, Stumptown, and Intelligentsia. At its best, it offered a passion for awesome coffee that could be infectious.)

One of my goals in life is to help coffee become more of a profession, a sustainable career, even. Not just a part-time job for people doing other things. I realize the difficulties in this path, but I have always had a love for Quixotic quests. Anyway, the sudden evaporation of so many coffee jobs is terrible, both for the people who lost them as well as for anyone looking for a chance to get into the industry and learn more about coffee. Hopefully, there will be more opportunities in the near future.

In the short-term, I can’t do much about the lost industry opportunities (some day, though…), but I think we can do a little something to help the people who lost their jobs without warning and who may be struggling a bit. There is a campaign on Gofundme to help pay the back wages from Atomic Coffee and its sister restaurant, Tomahawk. I am currently organizing a fundraising event for that campaign, where I will get former Atomic Coffee employees to run a pop-up hand brewed coffee bar for donations, to go to the Gofundme effort. I hope you will join us, it promises to be fun, with great coffee and a good cause. Details will be made available as soon as they are definite.

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4 responses to “Atomic Coffee Aftermath”

  1. tom arnold says :

    The people that worked at the Tennessee St location were always stand offish and rude. The cancer of the latte world if you will. Much nicer at the new store. That aside, you should probably just go get another job. Coffee isn’t this important.

    • journeymancoffee says :

      First, thanks for commenting. Second, I am sorry you had bad experiences at the Tennessee St. Atomic. Atomic was far from perfect, and if I was in charge of it, the service aspect would be where I would have focused much of the improvement energy. I worked quite a bit at Tennessee St., and if I ever came off as rude or standoffish, I apologize profusely.

      I have to disagree with the “Coffee isn’t this important” comment, however. First, I am trying to help out those folks who found themselves unexpectedly short some back pay. Most of them will (or already have) moved on to other jobs.

      My disagreement runs deeper, though. Coffee is pretty important to me. I’ve chosen coffee over plenty of other opportunities, with little regret. I’m plenty educated (maybe too much), and a fairly smart guy. Coffee to me isn’t just a job for a paycheck. I’m not a temporary worker, even if that is what most people think of as the face of coffee service. There’s no reason that the coffee industry can’t provide actual professions that earn a sustainable living. Ten years ago, few people considered restaurants as a respectable career path, but it is becoming more accepted. Coffee is an industry that touches people from growing countries to consuming ones. I would argue that working in coffee has the potential to be as important as any other industry. It’s a process, and I’m seriously working on this path.

      Thanks again for commenting. On a side note, do you have any constructive criticism about how service at Atomic could have been improved? Personally, I have several ideas, but I would love to hear yours.

  2. tmacjazz says :

    I know my reply to this post is 20 months after the last posting, but I wanted to share my ‘two cents’ regarding my experiences at Atomic Coffee. My family basically hangs out at coffee shops locally and when traveling. It’s not just about the coffee, it’s about absorbing the local community, getting to know the baristas, and enjoying our limited time together as a family.

    We were anxious to try out the new Atomic Coffee when it opened on Tennessee Street and early on we really enjoyed spending time there. However, as time went on, the quality of the espresso drinks became inconsistent. They would be really good on one visit and average on others. I don’t know if this was a result of expanding to other locations too quickly. Perhaps. There weren’t too many other options for local coffee during that time so we kept going back whenever we were in that area of town.

    As far as the friendliness of the staff, I always found the Atomic staff to be as friendly as you wanted them to be. If you started up a conversation, they would be quick to jump in. Atomic was typically packed and so the staff were usually focused on keeping the drinks flowing to the customers. I often find that attitudes are often perceived instead of experienced. As a customer of several of the newer local coffee shops, I have found baristas and other coffee shop staff to be friendly and approachable. If the shop is buzzing, I give them their space so they can focus on providing continuous quality to the other customers. I want the local shops to be successful so that my family and I will continue to have a place to hang out at.

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