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New roaster Rae McMahon and co-owner Josh Sommer at Aldo’s Coffee Co. (Photo credit: Lee Meyer)

“Amazing. Unbelievable. Excited. Ecstatic.”

It’s been nearly a year since new owners took over the long-running Aldo’s Coffee Co. (103-105 Front St.) in Greenport, and manager and part-owner Joshua Sommer is in coffee heaven, handling day-to-day operations, helping develop new products and keeping the legacy of the 35-year-old coffee company alive during its new chapter.

“Everything that I just said about it being exciting? There’s immense pressure,” he admits with a laugh, recalling a customer shaking his hand before asserting, ‘don’t screw it up!’ 

“It’s a fine balancing act that we’re doing by maintaining and elevating,” Sommer says. “At the root, it’s very important to us to keep it the same.”

Aldo’s Coffee Co. was previously owned by Aldo Maiorana, who founded the business and has become known up and down the North Fork for his bold, unique roast. In 2023, Sommer, along with Taylor Klemm, Scott Rose and Tora Matsuoka, purchased Aldo’s, with a promise to stay the same Aldo’s that coffee lovers near and far loved. Sommer is confident that they’ve been able to keep that promise, even if there has been a learning curve along the way.

“When we first took over this place, we maintained all the same employees, all the same ingredients. We even took pictures of every single thing that we had and said to our purveyors, we need this,” Sommer says, noting that he asked returning customers to let him know if anything wasn’t quite right.

A dedicated customer did just that. After several weeks of buying a cup of the shop’s signature hot chocolate, the customer said something wasn’t quite right about the recipe. Sommer looked into the chocolate they’d been getting from their vendor, and sure enough, the customer was right.

“We’re 53.1% dark — it was about a percent off,” Sommer recalls. “So we then swapped out all the chocolate for the [correct] chocolate, and asked her to come back and see if it was the same. She said, ‘It does taste the same now, but Aldo isn’t here!’”

Aldo’s biscotti remain a favorite. (Photo credit: Lee Meyer)
Exciting additions

Of course, there’s plenty new at Aldo’s Coffee Co., too. Over the course of the year, the new owners have put their own spin on Aldo’s in the form of additions big and small. One small change that’s made a big difference: milk variety.

“We’ve added some flavors,” says Sommer, including caramel, hazelnut and vanilla sweeteners. They’ve added non-coffee drinks like lemonade, and have had fun experimenting with some specials, like a cherry blossom latte for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.

The new ownership has also revamped the tea offerings. Instead of serving teas from the Celestial Tea Company, a national brand, customers now choose from a selection of teas from Tea & Tchotchkes, a Greenport business.

“Everything we’ve added that we’re not making specifically, we’re sourcing locally,” Sommer explains. Some other local additions include plant-based, organic “Just Dating” cookies baked at the Stony Brook Food Incubator in Calverton.  

The biggest addition so far has been a full gelato menu, which felt to the team like an easy win after they discovered a gelato machine had come with the purchase of the business. 

“We had to fill it!” Sommer says.

Sommer is also currently in the early stages of collaborating with CAST. 

“We’re going to run a contest, and one of [CAST’s] kids is going to come up with an outdoor mural and the other is going to paint a mural on the wall and let the public give opinions. And if we go ahead with it, we’ll have a QR code that lets customers donate directly to CAST.”

Rae McMahon roasts coffee at Aldo’s. (Photo credit: Lee Meyer)
The new brew

The new owners have also brought in a new roaster, as Maiorana did the majority of the roasting himself prior to the purchase. The group found that Rae McMahon, a coffee roaster who hails from across the bay in Sag Harbor, was the perfect person for the job.

McMahon, who grew up in Sag Harbor, learned to roast while working at Java Nation. 

As a child, McMahon would visit Java Nation with her dad and watched the roasters at Java Nation with fascination. When she was old enough, she learned how to make coffee and eventually roast.

“I manipulated the baristas into teaching me how to make espresso drinks,” says McMahon with a laugh. When Java Nation moved to Bridgehampton, McMahon officially started learning how to roast coffee. “I took it and ran with it. [Co-owner Andres Bedini] taught me how to love coffee,” she says. “[The late co-owner Cheryl Bedini] taught me how to make coffee everybody would love.”

McMahon traveled to Costa Rica often to hone her skills and continue her coffee education. She also visited Hawaii and went to school in Australia, where she learned about growing coffee.

While McMahon was familiar with Aldo’s Coffee, she hadn’t gotten to know him before being hired at Aldo’s. She recalls meeting Maiorana when she was a teenager. 

“I tried to introduce myself to Aldo at one point when I looked even younger than I do now,” she says with a laugh. “But when Tora called me, I came up and got to know him, work with him, learn his style. That was pretty cool!”

McMahon recently moved from Sag Harbor to Greenport with her family to roast full-time at Aldo’s.

“Greenport feels like the Sag Harbor I grew up in,” McMahon says. “I recognize Sag Harbor a little bit less now. Greenport has that home feeling … I’m super excited for [my children] to have a similar life growing up here and rapport that I had in Sag Harbor.”

Coffee… and cocktails?

Another exciting addition under Aldo’s new ownership: cocktails and later hours. Sommer and his partners plan to keep the shop open later so customers can enjoy an espresso — or an espresso martini, if one so desires. 

“This place is not turning into a bar, by any means,” says Sommer. “If you go around town, there’s nowhere to get espresso after 5 or 6 p.m. The intention is to give us a reason to stay open later and introduce items where people can enjoy Greenport. Imagine sitting [in Aldo’s outdoor area] and enjoying an Aperol Spritz.”

The group is also collaborating with Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. on a coffee stout and plans to collaborate with Matchbook Distilling Co. on a coffee liquor.

But Sommer reiterates: “We’re never, ever going to be a bar or a club. An espresso martini made by Aldo’s espresso is a nice offering. If there’s another way to serve Aldo’s coffee, that’s what we want to do.”