Military Service to Coffee Service | 5 Spot | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » 5 Spot

Military Service to Coffee Service

Q&A with Retired Army Officer Carl Churchill


  • Stan Rosenzweig

Retired Army officer Carl Churchill is no longer in uniform, but he and his wife, Lori, now serve in a different way at their Cottonwood Heights café, Alpha Coffee, at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon.

CW: You served multiple tours of duty overseas before retiring. What is your Utah background and what got you started in a military career?
CC: I was born in Germany and grew up all over the world in a military family. We moved to Utah in the mid-'70s when my dad got stationed at Ft. Douglas. I graduated from Alta High School and enlisted in the Army as a private. I was awarded an Army scholarship and went through Army ROTC at the University of Utah.

So you went to college at the U, advancing your military career and your education.
Yes. First, I graduated with two undergraduate degrees as a distinguished military scholar, and then proudly served for 21 years with the support of my amazing wife, where I earned a master's in strategic intelligence from the National Intelligence University and an Executive MBA from the University of Utah. I did multiple combat deployments and served with the 9th Infantry Division, 3rd Infantry Division, 1st Armored Division, Special Operations Command and multiple military intelligence organizations until I retired as a lieutenant colonel.

You went from military service to coffee service. What's the connection?
As Lori and I had always done, we sat down over coffee to discuss as a team what the way forward was after military service. We decided we wanted to combine our passion for high-quality coffee with our passion to give back to the military community. So, on Sept. 11, 2010, we started an online company selling coffee directly to customers, and for every order sold, we sent the equivalent of a cup of coffee to deployed troops. We've since sent over 10,000 bags of coffee to deployed troops around the world. At the urging of customers, friends and neighbors, we opened our first coffee shop on the corner of Racquet Club Drive and Fort Union Boulevard in Cottonwood Heights, and the response has been overwhelming.

What do you do for fun, besides drink coffee?
We are a family who loves fitness and the outdoors. We're avid skiers, climbers, hikers, mountain bikers, campers, off-road enthusiasts and shooting enthusiasts. Lori and I are very proud of our daughter, Denai, who is at the University of Utah, and of our son, Trevor, who has just deployed overseas as a Utah National Guardsman with the 19th Special Forces Group.

Trevor and Denai seem to be following your core values of fun and service.
Our mission statement says it all: 1. Awesome coffee; 2. Be a warrior and always do the right thing; 3. Have fun; 4. Give back.