Before they officially open the doors of their own coffee house in Holly Springs, Alma Coffee will be opening a cafe in Cherokee’s first co-working space, The Circuit, in Downtown Woodstock.
Alma Coffee, 3448 Holly Springs Parkway, one of Cherokee County’s newest companies, is owned by Al Lopez, a retired corporate executive and military veteran, along with his daughter Leticia and her husband, Harry Hutchins. As fifth-generation coffee farmers who source from their own farms in Copan, Honduras, they pride themselves on their “farm-to-cup” model. For generations, they have been growing as a coffee supplier and have just recently become a direct wholesale supplier to better support coffee farmers and their families with a more sustainable lifestyle.
“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.
The Circuit doubles as a co-working space and Chattahoochee Technical College’s Student Center, representing an innovative partnership between the Cherokee Office of Economic Development, 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 cafe — set to open in the next month.
“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,” Harry Hutchins said.
Alma officials said they are excited about the opportunity to start their first retail location on a technical college campus as it positions the company 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 crowd-sourced feedback and support.
An official date will be announced soon for Alma’s soft launch and grand opening.