Alma Coffee to Open Café at The Circuit
One of Cherokee’s newest companies, Alma Coffee, is set to open its first café in The Circuit in Downtown Woodstock. The Circuit doubles as Cherokee’s first co-working space and Chattahoochee Technical College’s Student Center, representing an innovative partnership between the Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED), Chattahoochee Technical College, and the Woodstock Office of Economic Development. Since The Circuit’s founding, these partners have collaborated to develop a space, centered around a coffee shop, to serve as a hub for entrepreneurs, students, and the community. After four years of planning and research and over a dozen considered vendors, Alma Coffee was selected for The Circuit’s first café – set to open in the next month.
“For us, it’s much more than just coffee at The Circuit; it’s discovering our part in the story that Alma is built on – jobs, community, innovation, sustainable economic development, local talent, and entrepreneurship. Since The Circuit is designed to be a support system for startups in Cherokee County, Alma represents the perfect story of a startup building locally from the ground up,” said COED Board Chairman Marshall Day.
Alma, owned by Al Lopez, a retired corporate executive and military veteran, along with his daughter Leticia and husband Harry Hutchins, have built their business on heart and soul. Alma means “soul” in Spanish and captures the heart behind their brand’s vision.
“We chose the name Alma because it perfectly illustrates the entirety of the heart and soul that we have put into this business, not just by us but by all the generations before us. Currently, the coffee industry is not sustainable, and our souls drove us to do our part to change it. Our goal is to promote direct trade in coffee so farmers can be rewarded fairly for their efforts and be examples for their children,” said Leticia Hutchins, Owner of Alma Coffee.
Alma, led by fifth-generation coffee farmers who source from their own farms in Copan, Honduras, prides itself on a “farm-to-cup” model. They are veteran-owned and are proudly USDA certified organic on their farms, direct-trade and single-origin. For generations, they have been growing as a coffee supplier only to have recently become a direct wholesale supplier to better support coffee farmers and their families with a more sustainable lifestyle.
After recently opening their local roastery in Holly Springs to opening their first retail location inside The Circuit in Woodstock, they continue to expand their brand for greater local impact.
“As someone who went to high school here, it is incredible to see Cherokee’s growth. When we started this company, we wanted to make an impact not only for the farmers we source from but also the communities we serve. We are so blessed and thankful to call The Circuit our first home. We cannot wait to provide a place where people can meet, mingle, and enjoy a great cup of coffee. This would not be possible without the support from the Cherokee Office of Economic Development, Chattahoochee Technical College, and the Woodstock Office of Economic Development,” said Harry Hutchins, Owner of Alma Coffee.
Alma is excited about the opportunity to start their first retail location on a technical college campus as it positions them close to future talent and gives them the opportunity to collaborate with the college for programming and internships.
“Coffee is an essential part of a college’s student center as it helps build community, creates a fun place for students to study and learn and even positions students for real-life job opportunities right here on campus. A true farm to campus brand,” said David Simmons, VP of Facilities for Chattahoochee Technical College.
Alma will also further Woodstock’s record business growth through its startup at The Circuit and serve as an innovation hub for Circuit members and the local entrepreneurial community.
“For years, Woodstock has created a reputation for gathering people and creating community,” said Brian Stockton, Director of the Woodstock Office of Economic Development. Alma will help expand the local coffee culture and build Woodstock into more of a city unexpected for businesses and consumers alike.”
“Alma is a breath of fresh air for us at The Circuit,” said Jim Nichols, Circuit Member and Executive Strategist and Filmmaker with Half Machine. “Coffee shops are essential to the startup culture as both a resource and community. As a fellow start-up, we are eager to invest in Alma’s success.”
Alma also announced its partnership with The Circuit for events such as cuppings and tastings as well as programs geared toward strengthening Cherokee’s entrepreneurial community. Alma is already preparing to be the main coffee sponsor for 1 Million Cups Cherokee at The Circuit, a twice-a-month gathering of local entrepreneurs where a startup presents their company and challenges for crowdsourced feedback and support.
An official date will be announced soon for Alma’s soft launch and grand opening.