Meet Harry and Leticia! The main “why” behind Faces of Woodstock is our community. In honor of this and Valentine’s Day later this week, Faces of Woodstock brings you our first couple interview, founders of the local coffee company, Alma Coffee, Harry and Leticia Hutchins. As your host, they inspire me because they built their lives together with a common focus, continued through college with a business mindset, and now whole-heartedly apply what they learned toward building a community here and around the world. Alma Coffee is a vibrant light in Woodstock, fueling the community where Main St. U.S.A. meets the heart of the city.
Harry and Leticia met in Cherokee County at American Heritage Academy high school. Although the school is now closed, the couple got to know one another in Honors Geometry their Sophomore year and began dating their Junior year. Together they chose to move to Chicago to study Accounting, Leticia at DePaul University and Harry at Loyola University. They continued to date through college and once they graduated Harry proposed while the pair was on a trip to Honduras. A year later, they got married on the same beautiful beach where they were engaged.
They left their corporate accounting careers in Chicago to move back to their hometown in Cherokee County and start Alma Coffee. A true farm-to-cup coffee company that owns its own farms in Copan, Honduras, roasts its coffee in Holly Springs and has its own coffee shop in downtown Woodstock. Although the roasting and retail side of Alma is new, Leticia’s family has been in coffee farming for over five generations, that’s over 500 years of combined family coffee farming experience. By sourcing not only from themselves but also directly from other coffee farmers, Harry & Leticia aim to break the inefficient supply chain within coffee and focus on sourcing direct!
Can you tell us how you became Alma Coffee and where people can find it in Woodstock?
Leticia: When Harry and I initially decided to leave our corporate careers in Chicago and expand on the family coffee farming business, we launched as Copán Coffee Roasters. Copán being the region that our coffee farms are in Honduras, and we are coffee roasters. To our accounting minded selves, it was to the point and it just made sense. We quickly realized that no one resonated with the word Copán, it was hard to pronounce, and it wasn’t memorable. Our logo has issues as well, it was our seal with the country of Honduras and a coffee cup in the western region, Copan, where our farms are located. We got feedback that it looked like a coffee spill, not the message we were looking to convey with our branding. We got in contact with Tom Cox, a local graphic artist who is heavily involved in the community but also has 20+ years of experience with Coca Cola. He heard our story and perfectly conveyed it into our logo and branding, we simply couldn’t recommend him enough!
Harry: In Woodstock, Alma Coffee can be found at the creative space known as The Circuit. This is our only retail location and we proudly focus on exceptional customer service and handmade specialty coffee drinks. We also have an amazing partnership with Reformation Brewery, we crafted a delicious roast exclusively for them and you can find it on their espresso bar, an nitro cold brew, and sometimes in their beers as well! You can also buy Alma Coffee bags at the Woodstock Visitor’s Center, and cups of coffee at Fresqo Fresh at the outlet mall which makes really healthy food from scratch.
What is your favorite restaurant in Woodstock, and what do you love there?
L: For dinner it’s Vingenzo’s. I think in another life I must have been Italian because I could eat pasta and pizza for every single meal, every single day, and never get tired of it. I always order the Fettuccini Pomodoro e Ricotta.
H: I would agree, Vingenzo’s. I like to change my order every time I go but I’ve always enjoyed everything I have ordered there.
How long have you lived or worked in Woodstock?
L: It will be two years in April. We didn’t buy the roastery location until 2018 in December, so we just had it’s one-year anniversary, which is crazy. We opened our coffee shop in the Circuit last June! We’ve grown super fast but it has been awesome!
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Woodstock? Who would you like to see nominated as a Face of Woodstock?
H: That’s a really good question. The first one who comes to mind is one of our team members and employees, Jonathan Peyton. He’s one of the most giving people I know, he’ll give you the shirt off his back. Jonathan is an awesome individual, he plays a lot of music around the area.
L: He’s heavily involved in the community, he was raised here, Just an outstanding person.
H: He and his wife, Abby, are just incredible people. The other one, it’s a couple, Lauren and Cody Bolden from Pie Bar. When we were getting started, they were big supporters. A lot of our early troubles were dealing with logistics. Everything from scheduling to payroll to even understanding the Department of Health. Lauren and Cody both took the time to come here to the café space and the roastery as well, and just really share everything they have learned along the way. That was huge for us! Another would be the Nix family, Brad Nix and Spencer Nix with Reformation Brewery. They were really early supporters before we had anything.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
L: For me, it would be a place we’ve already been to. We were fortunate enough to go to Australia, and we just fell in love with it. The coffee culture there is amazing. They really care about the farmers, and it’s not just with coffee, it’s in everything they do. They’re big on sustainability, so we really liked that vibe and we hope maybe one day we can retire there.
H: When we were visiting Australia, we were just raving about the culture to the locals, and they said, if you like this, you are going to love New Zealand. So now we want to go check out New Zealand.
What is your favorite movie OR what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theater?
L: I’m a sucker for the Harry Potter series. My family makes fun of me saying that I love Harry Potter so much that I married a Harry [laughs].
H: For me, the most memorable would be the Star Wars series. Episode Three was in theaters when I was growing up.
What advice would you give a crowd of people?
L: Truly, don’t give up. From my experience with Alma, if you try hard enough and you put everything into what you believe in, eventually you will be successful. You can’t be successful if you give up too soon, perseverance never fails.
H: Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. We’ve had to do that a lot of times. But the folks here in Woodstock, they rally around their community members and truly support one another. It differs from place to place, but we know that in this area, if you ask for help, you’ll get it.
What is something on your bucket list?
H: Education is really big for us. Giving a scholarship for a Honduran individual to come over to the U.S. or say, someone in need here in Cherokee County to help put them through college. That would be something on my bucket list, to sponsor someone’s education.
L: It would be to be able to visit coffee farms in another origin, I’d love to go to Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. It would be a dream come true to visit farmers there and see how they do things, and to compare with how we do things in Central America.
What is your favorite music/ three bands you would like to see (dead or alive)?
H: I listen to mostly hip-hop artists, so I would say the biggest ones right now for me are Drake and Travis Scott, and then throwing on a good Akon song is always motivating.
L: I’m not a big music person. Most of the time I’m listening to podcasts. I love a good murder mystery while I’m driving. And If I’m listening to music, it’s today’s top hits. I’m not paying attention to who’s singing it, it’s just background to me.
What current / former local business makes you the most nostalgic about Woodstock?
H: One that’s no longer around is a place that we went to when we were dating back six or seven years ago called Firestone. That was a big date night spot for us. Now that I’m over 21, I spend a lot of time at Reformation Brewery.
L: Same, when you think of Woodstock, you think of Reformation. They are just so community-focused. They are a big inspiration for us!
Choosing anyone alive and a non-relative: with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? Where in Woodstock would you have lunch?
L: My husband Harry. We don’t get to have a sit-down lunch and talk about non-work stuff very often, so I’d choose to have lunch with him. We’d probably go to Partners II Pizza! That is our go-to lunch spot in Woodstock, they have the best crust!
What is your favorite thing or something unique about Woodstock?
H: It’s the community, it’s the people. It’s a big enough community that you are meeting people all the time and it’s small enough that we get to see all of our friends on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. That’s something we really love. Also, a lot of our friends own local businesses here. We support them and they support us.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
H: We would like to open other locations and have a broader wholesale partnership connecting more folks. Then just being able to supply more and the ability to buy more green coffee from the farmers. Right now, we’re supporting four other farmers not within the immediate family. If we could support more and buy more of their crop, that would be huge.
L: We call them Almadoptions. You’ll see some of our bags that say “Alma Family Farms,” and that’s from our farms, and then “direct trade” will be on other bags. The ones that say direct trade are coffee from farmers that we have Almadopted. Giving farmers the fair price that they deserve is one of our main goals, now and into the future.
What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
H: I love basketball and play as often as I can. I have a basketball at the roastery, but I’m still trying to find a basketball hoop [laughs]. I’m almost always dribbling when I’m thinking or walking around the roastery.
L: I love cats and if you come to our house, it’s filled with cat stuff; not in a creepy way, but I’m a big cat lover. We have one cat we adopted together, and when we moved here we got my mom’s cat. They were both rescues from the Cherokee Humane Society.
What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
H: Family and friends.
L: …And I think security. You know you can always depend on your family to be there no matter what.
If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?
H: You would be my co-star [to Leticia].
L: Yeah, Harry would be my co-star. But if we had to pick actors, I think Henry Cavill from Superman would play Harry. When Harry has glasses on, he looks just like Henry Cavill.
H: Okay, I’ll start wearing glasses more often.
If you had a full-time staff member that was fully paid for, who would you choose? Chef, Housekeeper, Driver, Coach, Physical Fitness Trainer?
L: I would Say a chef because if we had a chef then we could really focus on our health and make sure we were eating right.
H: I’d have a trainer for health and as someone to play basketball with.
Harry & Leticia in Community