Feeling the Fire
Indie coffee roaster burns into the market
Despite the ease with which people can get a cup of coffee these days, many still
like to take the time to hand-craft their own.
Patrick Maloney, founder and owner of Blue Fire Coffee Roasters in Hopedale, MA. “stumbled into the coffee business in 2004,” the one-time sports journalist and stay-at-home dad explains. “I went to a local coffee shop near my house in Hopedale and ordered a cup of Panamanian coffee. I had no idea what ‘specialty’ coffee was. Needless to say, the first cup was life changing. I was hooked.”
After working for other people in the coffee business for 12 years, Patrick decided to go his own way, sourcing and roasting distinctive single-origin and blended coffees that are worth changing your daily routine for as well!
Having fallen in love with this particular varietal, Maloney returned to the same shop every day for an entire year, always before going to his night job in a nearby BBQ joint. At the same time, his wife was at home with their oldest child after she worked all day.
“We were like ships passing in the night,” Maloney recalls. “I was home in the daylight, gone at night. So one July evening I called her and said ‘I'm done! We never see each other. I need a day job closer to home.’” So the next day he approached that same coffee shop he frequented and asked for a job.
Maloney rose from a coffee delivery man to apprentice roaster at one company, to running a coffee operation for 7 years for a second coffee company, to now owning his coffee company, and living out a coffee life he once dreamed about on a Costa Rica mountainside.
“I approached the Roastmaster I knew from this coffee shop where I'd been a customer at for a year,” Maloney recalls. “I told him I would do anything to make a living. He offered a job apprentice roasting two days a week. I made myself a pest the other three days and was hired full-time.”
Over the course of two years of apprenticeship and another few years working side-by-side as a fellow roaster to his original mentor (who Maloney hired at Blue Fire Coffee), Maloney was recruited by another local coffee company to be head of specialty coffee operations. All of these business experiences, effort and patience waiting for a better coffee life go into each bag of Blue Fire Coffee.
“At a certain point in the life cycle of every job a crucial moment occurs where you ask yourself: Is this all there is here? Is this all these folks can be who sign my check? After killing myself as an employee for years with the promise of little to no legitimate fair value return,” Maloney muses, “I recognized the futility of working for others the rest of my life. Hence, Blue Fire was born.”
“I wanted to build a menu that would appeal to the masses,” Maloney explains. “I wanted to provide something to those who love blends and medium and dark roasts, but also to those who want a high- strung coffee. So far, I have accomplished both.”
“I love high-end coffee,” he admits, “but I love people more. So I focus on what my tagline says- Coffee is our craft. People are our business™.” Though he has only been open a matter of months, Maloney has already made his mark, appearing as part of major food events in Boston and even reaching customers in Providence and New Hampshire, as well as some Massachusetts customers. He has samples out in other states too.
Best of all, he says, he is doing it all on his own terms. “After all,” Maloney maintains,“life is too short to drink bad coffee!”
For more of Matt’s food-related writings, please visit www.matts-meals.com or follow Matt @ mattsmeals73.