Updated: Sep 27
What happens when you combine a love of stand-up comedy and coffee into a small business venture?
We interviewed our own Britton Courtney, Project Manager extraordinaire, to find out in this first installation of our ATOMIC-Me blog series. Throughout the series, we will be aiming the spotlight at various ATOMIC D team members to learn more about their creative outlets, hobbies, pastimes and whatever else gets those creative juices going — or helps them unwind after a long day in the home office.
So, how did Britton combine his taste for hot brew and jokes into a passion project with a growing subscription service delivering craft-roasted beans across the US?
Although the idea had long been brewing in the back of Britton's mind, the impetus to take on a new venture grew out of — as many things have over the last 18 months — lockdowns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Well, I enjoy coffee, drink it daily, and I've been thinking about roasting my own beans for a while," Britton said.
During the lockdowns, he invested in a 2-lb coffee roaster, started shopping for raw beans, and tapped fellow coffee-holic — Belgium artist @deathbyCoffee666 — for a little help with label design.
And, like that, Wisecrack Coffee was born.
Where does the name Wisecrack Coffee come from?
"When you're roasting beans you're listening for them to crack," said Britton. "That's the sweet spot, like popcorn."
The moniker, however, is a double entendre of sorts, a play on words that also speaks to Brittons’ other passion: stand-up comedy.
Always a fan of the craft, Britton found his way onstage during a college internship in Dallas, Texas. Catching the bug instantly, he dove into feverishly writing jokes and attending open mics like it was homework.
"There's no other high like getting up on stage, having a mic in hand and everyone is listening to you," Britton said.
The roasting process and approach
Just like with his intense studying of the comedy craft, Britton dove in with an experimental approach, first focusing on the flavor profiles that he has come to love in coffee.
His ideal roast: something light-medium, usually from South or Central America, although a batch of beans recently procured from Mexico has won over his taste buds of late.
"There are so many variables when it comes to making coffee: roasting temp, beans and where they're grown, the water you use, coarseness of the grind, style of brewing — from french press to pour over — and each cup changes. Switching the grind just a few clicks makes a difference good or bad," Britton said.
About the new batch of beans from Mexico: “These had that raw scent but also that strawberry scent,” Britton said. “I’m not usually that person that smells those things, but with these I actually do, and then when drinking I did too.”
The journey has not been without its hiccups, of course, there has been a lot of learning over the past months. The roaster may hold up to 2 lb of beans, but for an ideal outcome, Britton has learned that the ideal volume sits just around one pound.
"That first batch came out super dark. Usually you can listen for that crack of the beans, like popcorn," Britton said. "But there was nothing [when fully packed], and then they were just black and charred."
"I didn't want to toss two pounds of beans, so I sent some to my parents, then did a cold brew, and it was some of the best because of that."
How has Britton's brew been received by the ATOMIC D team?
And now, the team at ATOMIC D is investing in their own to stay caffeinated. As part of a new company program, those interested can have a bag of Wisecrack beans delivered to their door courtesy of ATOMIC D.
"Britton works hard as a Project Manager and still makes time to roast his Wisecrack Coffee. This namesake business keeps the entire company fueled through our busy work weeks. What’s really great though is how everyone at ATOMIC D has passions to pursue, and Britton’s gets served a cup at a time for all of us to enjoy."
What lies ahead for Wisecrack Coffee?
Britton has medium-brew dreams for his fledgling business. Getting the website up, experimenting in some more niche styles like cold brew, Oji and whiskey filtering top the list. Pie-in-the-sky though, he’d love to bring his two passions together into one epic venue.
“Good coffee without the pretension, open late, with an open mic night — just a comedy-club-coffee-beer-and-wine kind of spot would be cool to have,” said Britton.
Follow the roasting adventures of Britton and Wisecrack Coffee here: https://www.instagram.com/wisecrackcoffee/