Kat’s Epic Trail Bites: From Kitchen to Coffeeshop
By Amy Newman
Six years ago, an epically gutsy move catapulted Kat’s Epic Trail Bites from Owner Kat Hubble’s home kitchen to coffeeshops across Southcentral, and in September 2018, her own South Anchorage coffee shop.
A regular at Anchorage coffee shops, Hubble was at the Southside L’Aroma Bakery when a barista friend mentioned he had hit a wall and coffee was no longer helping. On a whim she offered him one of her homemade energy bites, a gluten-free, fruit-juice sweetened, protein-packed cookie she’d been making in her own kitchen for years as a way to help stabilize her blood sugar and provide her with lasting energy. Of course these go well with a coffee, freshly made from a good machine at home (learn more here about the options), but that was not what her friend wanted at that time.
The next day, he told her that not only had it helped, but it tasted good, too. That compliment gave Hubble an unconventional idea.
“I really took that as an open door,” Hubble said. “I started tipping for my coffee with trail bites. I wouldn’t have done it – it’s gusty – but it just seemed like everybody liked them.”
It was the first time Hubble realized she had a marketable product. Owning a business had never been a life goal. In fact, she didn’t even think it was a good idea. Prayer changed her mind.
“I just felt like God was telling me to do it,” she said. “I just felt a strong, specific conviction that I’m supposed to do this.”
She spent the summer of 2013 perfecting her recipes, designing a logo and the packaging for her bites. Searching for a commercial kitchen, she finally stumbling upon one in Palmer.
Hubble had no marketing or business background but never felt at a disadvantage. Marketing, she believes, is nothing more than conveying a message in a way people understand, something that came easily to her, given her love of talking to people and the passion behind her product.
In between commuting to Palmer, Hubble continued to drop her bites in tip jars and shared them with as many people as possible. She focused on coffee shops, which she felt was a natural pairing for her bites. Coffee shops, she felt, were perfect for her bites. She used excellent ingredients, which was similar to the coffee shops who always bought the very best coffee beans from Iron and Fire.
“People at coffee shops want their pastries, but there’s so many people like me that (traditional pastries) don’t work for them,” she said.
Kaladi Bros. was first to take a chance.
“They said, ‘We usually don’t accept stuff like this, it doesn’t work out,'” she recalled of that first meeting. But they decided to give them a shot began selling them in the store. After 18 months demand was so high that Kaladi Bros. began selling them in each of their Anchorage locations.
Hubble had eventually moved operations to Anchorage. As the business grew, working out of commercial kitchens became unsustainable. For the second time, her prayers took her in a direction she wouldn’t have chosen herself.
“I felt like God was saying, ‘I want you to open a coffeeshop,'” Hubble said. “Again, it was like, ‘I don’t think that’s what I think a good plan is but okay.'”
She found a spot in Huffman Square and opened her shop in September 2018. The coffeeshop is small but brightly lit. High stools flank an L-shaped counter to the left of the entrance, with a small table and two lounge chairs providing additional seating on the right. The counter is dominated by an espresso machine and an assortment of teas. Behind it, a chalkboard lists standard caffeinated beverages, all made with Kaladi Bros. coffee. A magnetic board next to the register lists that day’s available flavors.
Hubble currently has roughly 24 flavors in rotation. The bites, which are made with fresh and dried fruit, healthy fats like coconut oil, protein powder and oats, are soft, chewy, portable and made to provide long-lasting energy.
“The sweetness from the fruit hits you instantly, The oats are kind of a more mid-grade burn, and the fat and protein keep you full longer,” she explained.
Although the shop is only six months old, expansion ideas are already percolating in Hubble’s imagination, both in terms of products offered and the business’ reach. She’s currently working on vegan and low-carb options and wants to expand distribution nationally, which would require outsourcing production to the Lower 48. She will maintain a local hub for Alaskan distribution.
For now, though, Hubble is focused on building up the coffeeshop. And despite her initial reservations about opening her own business, she believes being an entrepreneur is the perfect role for her.
“I’m resourceful, and I know how to get stuff done,” she said. “Starting this business and being an entrepreneur fit my skill set and my natural personality more than anything I’ve ever done.”
Kat’s Epic Trails Bites & Espresso
1120 Huffman Road Unit 14
Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Kat’s Epic Trail Bites are available at coffee shops throughout Southcentral Alaska.