Micheal (Michele) Tuttle started A-Town Coffee Roasters in 2016 to create better tasting coffee products that provided people with sustained energy. After years of putting Ghee butter in her coffee due to its energizing effects, the single mother realized that not everyone has the time or can afford a ghee butter coffee lifestyle, especially when you have two kids to get to school, a few dogs to walk, and an Ironman competition to train for. A-Town Coffee is named for Micheal’s hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, and the coffee stays true to how serious many Alaskans view coffee; living through long, cold, dark winter months, and short summers of the midnight sun. After talking with Micheal for a few minutes I could tell how much she takes that mission to heart; she brings a little sunshine with her wherever she goes. We sat down with Micheal to find out more about her extraordinary coffee and how she’s bringing that ghee butter coffee energy to her recent WBE certification.
How/Why did you start your business? What was your vision?
I started this business to help other single moms or dads. I was adding Ghee to my coffee every morning. I noticed how my performance would change on days I had ghee in my coffee vs the days I didn't. It was a very big difference, so big that I just made it my staple coffee every day. But when I got divorced, I realized it wasn't as easy to do every day due to kids, work, and training. Plus, it became very expensive on one income. So, I began the search for coffee roasted in butter… I mean seriously, who the heck wouldn't want to roast in butter? It’s supposed to make everything taste better. I soon learned no one was making it, and everyone told me it was impossible. I hate that word. So began my journey to make it happen.
What barriers did you overcome to be successful? How did you overcome them?
I'm still working on the successful part. I am nowhere near where I want to be. But, even if I get there, I am pretty sure I will change my mind and want to be somewhere different. I love the challenges I overcome on a day to day basis. Right now, a success is dropping my kids off at school on time!
A-Town Coffee is all about energy and keeping it up. How do you keep your energy and motivation high in your company?
The days I want to break down and cry and just give up, my kids and dogs keep me motivated. I don't get to stay [JG1] in bed and lock the door. I have them to worry about. I have to get lunches made and dinner done even if it’s just a bowl of cereal. I have to get them to practice, help with homework, and go take kids door to door to help push the product and pay the bills. Keeping a roof over their heads makes it really hard to hide away.
Who inspired you along your journey?
My kids are a great inspiration. I want them to grow up and know they can do anything they put their minds to. I’m just trying to lead them by example. Kids are watching our every move, even if we don't see it. If you never try, you will never know.
Not only are you a WBE, you’ve also completed over 10 Ironman competitions. Has training for those competitions changed the way you view your business?
I think training and completing my Ironmans has made me patient, because of the time you have to put in to see any results. Humble, because of the amazing people you see racing beside you and completing one. One race there was a young blind girl who had someone beside her guiding her. She ended up finishing, and it was amazing to witness. It reminded me to never give up, and not to let anyone say it’s impossible. Ironmans, like business, can be tough mentally. Trying to tell yourself to keep going when all you want to do is give up, every ounce of you is hurting. But, you know there is a finish line at the end that you have been working so hard for.
How has WBEC-Pacific and/or WBENC certification contributed to your success?
Being Certified WBEC-Pacific has opened doors to sell in major companies like MGM. I would have never known to try with them if I didn't have MGM tell me I needed to have it to help push my products in their hotel... I am still working on that.
What are you most excited to gain from your WBENC certification in 2019?
I’m looking forward to being able to be a part of some the amazing conventions this year. Last year I couldn’t afford to take part, but I know that doing so and taking advantage of what they have to offer Woman Owned companies opens the doors to so many other opportunities; the connections are endless. I’m looking forward to that chapter.
A-Town coffee is named after your hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. Is there anything about business in your home state that you wish other people in the WBEC Pacific region knew about?
Here in Alaska we are all about supporting our local small businesses and helping one another to grow. I swear if you can't make here, you would never make it anywhere. But we also are afraid to go past our comfort zones here. Most Alaskans never want to leave Alaska because it’s all they know, and they are fine with that.
What are you most looking forward to in A-Town Coffee’s future?
I’m looking forward to putting Alaska on the map in a better way. Showing other Alaskans that they too can grow bigger then Alaska. And of course, I am looking forward to A-Town Being everybody’s morning coffee.
A-Town proudly donates a portion of its profits into women’s and children’s causes and is sold and available as Whole Bean, Ground, K-Cups or Cold Brew. To find out more about this 100% fair trade and hand roasted coffee, or more about Micheal and her story, visit www.atowncoffee.com