Alchemy is defined as the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained.
Pharmacists, Tiernan McCann and Gary Mallon, have always had a fascination with formulas, potions and…coffee.
After sampling coffee from all over Ireland, the two chemists decided it was time for Omagh to get a taste of the specialty coffee that they have been experimenting with for a number years.
The co-founder of the new coffee shop, Alchemist, and former Down All-Ireland winning GAA star, Tiernan McCann said he had the business idea brewing in the back of his mind for some time before turning to the British Business Bank for support.
Tiernan said: “Gary and I would travel a fair distance to sample different types of coffee, and it was always a desire for us to open our own shop. We spent time researching beans, the art and process of coffee making before finally taking the leap to open our own special place.
“As we are both still working pharmacists, we wanted our space to almost resemble a lab which is why the shop has a clinical aesthetic. We always loved the idea that through mystical formula, you can create something special and its why we chose the name Alchemist – coffee is a kind of formula and most definitely, special.
“We wanted to create a brand and a space that resembles our chemical background but also provides a modern coffee shop that Omagh deserves.”
Despite being a haven for coffee enthusiasts in Omagh, Tiernan and Garry have welcomed customers from beyond Tyrone.
“We’ve had customers from all over the world come in and taste our coffee. Australians have told us that it reminds them of cafés at home, which is a huge compliment given their prestigious coffee culture. People think it brings a city feel to the rural town, Tiernan added.”
But what makes the coffee so special?
The Alchemist founders’ partner with Coleraine family business, Fidela Coffee Roasters. With various family members working on farms in Colombia, Fidela is ethically sourced and do amazing work to support local Columbia communities which was hugely important to Tiernan and Garry.
Tiernan said: “We would often call into Fidela and they were extremely open to answering our many questions about their coffee and origins. These beans along with secret, unique methods make Alchemist coffee that bit special.”
Tiernan and Garry are extremely passionate about their coffee and with the help of the British Business Bank, they were able to finance this dream.
The British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme enables entrepreneurs to borrow up to £25,000 as a government-backed loan with a fixed 6% interest rate. Repayments are made over one to five years and start ups also receive 12 months of free business mentoring.
Tiernan added: “The bank supported us with the funding we needed to get our business off the ground and running. We also received fantastic guidance from our Start Up Loans advisor and he took us through the do’s and don’ts of a start-up.
“We would highly recommend anyone with a business plan in mind to apply for a start-up loan with the bank. As two pharmacists, it was great to get that support on the business end of things and we appreciate the low risk associated with the British Business Bank.”
Alchemist has only been open three months but has already got off to a flying start, they have employed six local staff and are enjoying the journey of a new business.
“For the future, we just want to continue to grow the business,” said Tiernan. “Creating Alchemist and seeing the locals take to our coffee so well has been extremely exciting and rewarding.”
Tiernan and Gary have been sharing their journey and creating their brand on Instagram. Visit alchemistomagh for satisfying coffee content and puppachinos.