The Hippo


May 31, 2020








(From left to right) Employees and owners Melanie Davis and Carmel Shea (seated third and fourth), at The Grind Rail Trail Cafe in Derry. Emelia Attridge photo.

The Grind Rail Trail Café
Where: 16 Manning St., Suite 102, Derry
Hours: Weekdays 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Call: 247-4506


Rail Trail grinds
New downtown Derry café all about coffee and community


 There’s something about a coffee shop that inspires community — or, at least, that’s what Melanie Davis and Carmel Shea were hoping when they opened The Grind Rail Trail Café in downtown Derry.

“We both had this passion to see downtown grow,” Davis said, sitting at one of the tables in the shop recently. “Derry has been quiet downtown here, and we both really want to see this local mom-and-pop side of Derry get back to where it was a long time ago. So that’s where this really came from.”
“We wanted a community hub disguised as a coffee shop,” Shea said.
Even in the middle of the afternoon, people were coming in and out of the shop to order coffee, and others had found seats at the tables to play a board game like mancala or checkers. The coffee shop opened in April, and already it’s inspired community conversations and activities. There’s a book swap by the bar — Davis and Shea are constantly surprised to see new books appearing when their backs are turned — and others mill around the giant chalkboard to puzzle out the riddle of the day.
“People get really excited, especially about the riddle,” Davis said.
The two friends came up with the idea for the coffee shop after a bike ride on the local rail trail, when they were craving an iced coffee to cool off with. And as the gears turned, the community-based coffee shop became a reality.
The Grind also highlights local bakers and ingredients. The organic coffee is roasted by A&E Roastery in Amherst, milk comes from Contoocook Creamery and yogurt for the parfaits comes from Stonyfield (with Sharon’s Granola of Derry to top them off). There are also products from local bakers like the Dutch Epicure, So Sweet Confections and Sweet Ideas by Vikki. Even the Pinkerton Academy culinary students are baking chocolate chip cookies and brownies during the school year for the cafe.
There are salad cups, fruit cups, pita chips and hummus, chicken salad cups on pita or a bagel (many items available to grab-and-go), along with homemade cream cheeses like olive, veggie, maple walnut, and “magic butter,” a sweetened butter with cinnamon spice.
And in case you’re usually overwhelmed by coffee menus, Shea and Davis have that covered, too. There’s a list of suggested specialty coffee combinations, many of which were designed by customers.
“It all started with the Nutty Turtle,” Shea said. 
There’s Beach Day with vanilla and coconut (which Davis said many prefer to order iced), Bananas Foster and Feel Like a Nu  t (Shea said that’s like an Almond Joy).
“Coming off the rail trail a community hub can mean a whole bunch of different things. It can mean a place to gather before you bike, it can mean a place to stop before you run, it can be a place for people of downtown to have business meetings or the courthouse to meet between hearings,” Davis said.
Even the building itself is a nod to historical Derry. It used to be the granary building, and The Grind was the grain house. Beams in the cafe were exposed from the original building, and Shea and Davis used upcycled and salvaged items as inspiration for the space.
“It has the rail trail history,” Davis said. “It’s nice that we can be part of downtown history. … Before we opened we were questioning whether downtown and Derry as a whole were ready for specialty coffee and this feeling — it’s a little more industrial looking. … It’s fair to say we [were] overwhelmed by the response.”
“People want to be downtown, and I don’t think it’s been like that for a long time,” Shea said. 
As seen in the July 10, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

®2020 Hippo Press. site by wedu