ALABAMA DOES INTERESTING THINGS TO PEOPLE. Visitors to the Magic City often find themselves at the corner of “surprised” and “what if” and decide to convert a short stint into a permanent life here. Melanie and Josh Cosio are two such individuals. These transplants from California fell in love with life in Birmingham and decided to put down roots. Their bespoke coffee company, Cala Coffee, is headquartered in Cahaba Heights but is happily caffeinating folks all over town.
How did two Californians end up starting a coffee business in Alabama?
We moved to Birmingham in 2016 without even visiting it first! Our plan was to finish out a one-year internship here and then move on. But after Melanie got accepted into the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at UAB, we decided to stay and put down roots in Cahaba Heights. We’d always dreamed of a coffee- roasting company, so in 2021 we decided to start this journey, calling our company Cala for the California/Alabama connection. We began by launching our coffee cart after receiving a lot of encouragement on the Cahaba Heights Community Facebook page. Owning a small business is a wild ride—at times we feel like we are crushing it, but then the next day it can feel like we have no clue what we’re doing. Thankfully we have each other to lean on, so we’re able to tackle the doubts together and get back on track.
We worked our first wedding last October. The bride reached out to us in the spring of 2021. We thought it was so exciting that someone believed in us enough to want us at an event months down the road. All of our hard work had finally helped us achieve our goal.
Cala Coffee Advice: “Set goals and make plans, but trust your gut. It’s okay to go off-script if you’re being pulled in another direction.”
“We hope our coffee leaves our customers feeling energized and inspired to make connections with others, get their work done, play with their kids a little more, or push harder in a workout.”
Where can we find you?
We have a pop-up cart at Fig Tree in Cahaba Heights and at the Saturday Birdsong Market each week. Our coffee cart can also be rented for events like weddings, employee appreciations, grand openings, etc. And you can find our roasted beans at six area Piggly Wiggly locations, as well as Local Source. The full line, along with our Cala merch, can be found on our website: calacoffeeco.com.
“Stay in touch with your people.” A friend gave us this bit of advice when discussing how to manage people helping with our brick-and-mortar shop’s buildout, but we’ve applied it in many different circumstances. We are committed to staying in touch with our customers by giving them what they like while also staying true to our values. In working around the clock to build our company, our social lives take a hit from time to time. It is during those moments that we remind ourselves to also stay in touch with the people that bring out our best. A small business can only be as happy as the people running it!
Our Maple Latte is always a customer favorite, hot or cold: For a hot treat, combine 8 ounces milk of your choice (we prefer oat milk) with 1 ounce maple syrup and a shot of Cala espresso. In the warmer months, we make it cold by combining 6 ounces oat milk with 1 ounce maple syrup and 4 ounces Cala cold brew.