Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Tami Canaday, Founder and Owner of Wagon Coffee, located in Denver, CO, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Wagon Coffee is a sustainable & eco-friendly coffee roastery in Denver that is women-owned & operated. I employ & empower Women In Recovery From Addiction. Wagon Coffee also supports Verified Living Income To Coffee Farmers globally. And because sustainability & focusing on recovery is central to who we are, we roast on a Clean Energy, Electric Bellwether Roaster.

Our customers value giving back, providing second chances, and sustainability. While we have many local customers that purchase retail and monthly coffee subscriptions, many treatment centers, Sober Living homes, and those impacted by addiction purchase wholesale for their business of any size. Our customers appreciate that our specialty coffee is always handcrafted small-batch & roasted fresh to order.

Tell us about yourself

I identify as a recovery advocate and loved one of an addict. I also have an extensive background in coffee that includes 20 years of experience, which includes over a decade with a major coffee corporation… rising through the ranks from Coffee Master Trainer to District Operations and Merchandiser to Subject Matter Expert. My corporate coffee background, combined with my story and passion as a recovery advocate, is what ignited Wagon Coffee LLC.

My husband, Ryan, is 9+ years sober. I have witnessed the beautiful transformation of recovery through him and within our marriage. In 2018, Ryan and I launched a nonprofit called FREE—for Addicts, Loved Ones of Addicts, and Spiritual Refugees. We create space for healing, recovery, and spiritual connection at FREE.

Because of FREE, I learned more about women in recovery, their stories, the alarming and increasing addiction stats, and the hardships they face as WOMEN in recovery. 5.7% of women have a substance use disorder in the United States. I also discovered some staggering COVID-19 statistics... according to a Journal of American Medical Report (JAMA) report, Women, in particular, exhibited a 41% increase in alcohol consumption over a 2019 baseline.

So, I decided to do something in the midst of a pandemic to help women in recovery. And it just so happens [ironically enough] that 90% of recovering addicts and alcoholics drink coffee! I founded Wagon Coffee in 2020 in response to the critical need for assistance for those afflicted with alcohol and drug addiction.

So, along comes Wagon Coffee... Why "Wagon"?! It comes from the century-old saying when you are sober, you are "on the wagon." We are "being the wagon" by guiding women in recovery towards wholeness by providing second chances through employment, encouragement, & empowerment.

My "Why": To guide and inspire others towards joy, wholeness, and living a better story. And I can't think of a better way to live into my why than using my passion for coffee as the medium!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

When I first started roasting, it was on a small home roaster that made a whopping 6oz at a time. At one point, I even had 3 home roasters going at the same time! I started under the CO Food Cottage Act and grew sales so that I could present my case to investors to go commercial. I pulled in people I looked up to for advice, business acumen support, wrote a business plan, applied for all my commercial registration, and put together a budget. I presented this to several investors and was able to get Wagon off the ground commercially within a few short months.

Within the first year, Wagon Coffee's sales had increased by over +700%! Now we are in year two, I have paid our investors back, and we are continuing to grow and move forward. We love to share stories of women getting their lives and careers back, too! These can be found and celebrated on our social media channels.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Being a business owner within a recovery community has its own set of challenges outside the normal challenges of growing sales and customers. And, often, addiction and mental health are deeply intertwined. While I am providing opportunities to women in recovery, sometimes that comes with setbacks. Some days are just plain hard. But other days are filled with so much joy - when I hear women here say, "I am 6 years, 3 years, or 6 months sober..." and that gives me hope that transformation, new life, and recovery, in fact, is possible.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Surround yourself with people smarter than you.
  2. Don't forget where you came from.
  3. Rock the boat, press into your passion, and make a tangible difference.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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