Tattoos and Coffee Shops: Cultivated Culture Cafe

"The most important thing is that, whoever you are, you’re your own person."

Tattoos and Coffee Shops: Cultivated Culture Cafe

Written by: David Zuccarelli
December 3, 2018


This story is part of our web series called Tattoos and Coffee Shops, which explores tattoo culture at our local coffee shops. We’ll look into the interesting backstory of otherwise little-known coffee shop employees via the simple pieces of art they sport every single day. Today we hear from the tattooed baristas at Cultivated Culture Cafe in the Miller Beach neighborhood of Gary.

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ANNA MARTINEZ
A mother of three children, and partnered with a father of four, Anna Martinez is the founder and owner of Cultivated Culture Cafe in Miller. Her confidence as a businesswoman-to-be was shaped during her years ingrained in the Chicago brewery scene. Eventually, she found her passion for brewing her own homemade kombucha, starting Anna’s Small Batch Kombucha, and opened Cultivated Culture Cafe in Miller in 2017.

On Ink:
My Dad used to read National Geographic a lot when I was little, and we’d always study and talk about history together. And it got me really interested in old tribes and their tattoos. When I was 12, I snuck out and got my first little tattoo, and it never stopped from there. But my dad made a promise to my grandma that he would never get tattooed. And he’s kept that promise. Tattoos aren’t for everyone. The most important thing is that, whoever you are, you’re your own person.

On Kombucha:
Before I started making kombucha, my time in the brewing community taught me a lot about independence and self-reliance. The people in that community really inspired me to go my own way. As I got older, I realized I wanted to be my own boss. I set a target goal: I’d do it by 40. And it happened through kombucha.

The first time I dropped off my kombucha in the Pilsen area at a juice bar… it was a little surreal. I used to go there when I was a little girl for tacos and stuff, and I could have never thought that years later I’d be dropping off my own kombucha, which by the way was this drink I’d never heard of at the time, right there in Pilsen.

Photo Credit: David Zuccarelli
Anna Martinez is the owner of Cultivated Culture Cafe and founder of Anna's Small Batch Kombucha.
Photo Credit: David Zuccarelli
Anna Martinez is the owner of Cultivated Culture Cafe and founder of Anna's Small Batch Kombucha.

ANNA MARTINEZ
A mother of three children, and partnered with a father of four, Anna Martinez is the founder and owner of Cultivated Culture Cafe in Miller. Her confidence as a businesswoman-to-be was shaped during her years ingrained in the Chicago brewery scene. Eventually, she found her passion for brewing her own homemade kombucha, starting Anna’s Small Batch Kombucha, and opened Cultivated Culture Cafe in Miller in 2017.

On Ink:
My Dad used to read National Geographic a lot when I was little, and we’d always study and talk about history together. And it got me really interested in old tribes and their tattoos. When I was 12, I snuck out and got my first little tattoo, and it never stopped from there. But my dad made a promise to my grandma that he would never get tattooed. And he’s kept that promise. Tattoos aren’t for everyone. The most important thing is that, whoever you are, you’re your own person.

On Kombucha:
Before I started making kombucha, my time in the brewing community taught me a lot about independence and self-reliance. The people in that community really inspired me to go my own way. As I got older, I realized I wanted to be my own boss. I set a target goal: I’d do it by 40. And it happened through kombucha.

The first time I dropped off my kombucha in the Pilsen area at a juice bar… it was a little surreal. I used to go there when I was a little girl for tacos and stuff, and I could have never thought that years later I’d be dropping off my own kombucha, which by the way was this drink I’d never heard of at the time, right there in Pilsen.

On Miller:
When I worked in those breweries around Chicago, I got to see all kinds and types of people come together. And everyone who I knew from Miller was so friendly and helpful, and I just got this sense that there was a strong community there, and everybody was friends with their neighbor. And over time, that changed and softened my own perception of the area. And now, I’m just very happy here, and it was absolutely the right place to open the café.

On Life:
I was a teenage mom. I had my daughter when I was just turning 19. Before that, I had always wanted to travel the world. So every night I’d whisper in my daughter’s ear, ‘You have to travel the world before you grow up and have babies or get married.’ I don’t want any of my kids to settle down, not until they’ve really matured, until they’ve seen what there is to see. And after they’re all grown up, that’s what I plan on doing, just I like I wanted to when I was 18. I’m going to go out, and travel.

Photo Credit: David Zuccarelli
Anna Martinez with partner Oscar
Photo Credit: David Zuccarelli
Anna Martinez
Photo Credit: David Zuccarelli
Anna Martinez with partner Oscar
Photo Credit: David Zuccarelli
Anna Martinez

EVAN SHEROW
The head cook at Cultivated Culture, Evan has been working in the hospitality and restaurant scene for nearly twenty years. After pursuing Ecology and Philosophy at Kansas State University, Evan forwent further schooling to pursue a life of travel. Eventually landing here in Miller, she brought her passion for sustainable food systems to Anna’s menu.

On Ink:
I love tattoos. I think they’re beautiful. I keep collecting them, and I have a bunch hidden on my legs. The first tattoo I ever got is this one on my wrist, and it symbolizes Isomorphisms, which are super nerdy. It means that everything that happens has an equivalent mathematical equation. So it’s kind of like the connectedness of everything. I know, I’m a nerd.

Photo Credit: David Zuccarelli
Evan Sherow

This one on my other wrist is the Kansas motto: ‘To the stars through difficulties.’ It might be the only good state motto. There were a lot of people that I grew up with that were super ashamed that they were from Kansas. But my family has been there for a long time. They homesteaded there, and were free-staters. I have major roots there, and I want to embrace that.

On Kombucha:
Anna makes really good kombucha. She really balances it well and it’s got great flavor. The flavor of anything fermented just takes that thing to another level. And fermentation is a really good way to utilize food in a sustainable way. Apart from that, coffee is something I’ve always been into. I’ve worked in lots of coffee shops, and I actually owned one when I lived in Salt Lake. I’ve sold cheese and wine as well. Any of those things that allow you to celebrate a certain grower in a certain region, I’ve always been really into that.

On Miller:
I just kind of blew in here. I had a friend who lived here, and visited her once. Did some traveling, came back here to stay for a couple of months. That was three years ago. But I love it here. I love going out into the woods, going to the beach. And the city is so close. The people are great, it’s really cheap to live here. It’s just a great community that keeps growing, with room for a lot of people’s ideas to take shape.

On Life:
You never know what’s going to happen the next day. So live one day at a time. I’m always working toward my goals, but the future is a mystery, and you never really know what’s going to happen. The best advice I can give is just to be honest, have integrity, and be the best person you can be every day.

Photo Credit: David Zuccarelli
Evan Sherow

This one on my other wrist is the Kansas motto: ‘To the stars through difficulties.’ It might be the only good state motto. There were a lot of people that I grew up with that were super ashamed that they were from Kansas. But my family has been there for a long time. They homesteaded there, and were free-staters. I have major roots there, and I want to embrace that.

On Kombucha:
Anna makes really good kombucha. She really balances it well and it’s got great flavor. The flavor of anything fermented just takes that thing to another level. And fermentation is a really good way to utilize food in a sustainable way. Apart from that, coffee is something I’ve always been into. I’ve worked in lots of coffee shops, and I actually owned one when I lived in Salt Lake. I’ve sold cheese and wine as well. Any of those things that allow you to celebrate a certain grower in a certain region, I’ve always been really into that.

On Miller:
I just kind of blew in here. I had a friend who lived here, and visited her once. Did some traveling, came back here to stay for a couple of months. That was three years ago. But I love it here. I love going out into the woods, going to the beach. And the city is so close. The people are great, it’s really cheap to live here. It’s just a great community that keeps growing, with room for a lot of people’s ideas to take shape.

On Life:
You never know what’s going to happen the next day. So live one day at a time. I’m always working toward my goals, but the future is a mystery, and you never really know what’s going to happen. The best advice I can give is just to be honest, have integrity, and be the best person you can be every day.

Photo Credit: David Zuccarelli
Evan Sherow
Photo Credit: David Zuccarelli
Evan Sherow
Photo Credit: David Zuccarelli
Evan Sherow
Photo Credit: David Zuccarelli
Evan Sherow

CAMMIE VILLANUEVA
Hailing from St. Charles, Illinois, and now living in-and-around Chicago for the past 18 years, Cammie admittedly has difficulty summing up her professional endeavors into one word. A part-time employee at Cultivated Culture, a flash tattoo artist, a vintage clothing connoisseur, and more, she’s an unashamed ‘jack of all trades,’ and has some pretty awesome ink as well.

On Ink:
My husband owns a tattoo shop in Chicago. Getting tattooed, being in tattoo shops all the time, I feel like I’m immersed in it. We were in London last month for the 14th annual tattoo invitational. And we love doing that, going to conventions, and exploring all these other styles of tattoos.

I developed a passion for flash in 2012 after spending time with my husband’s artwork. I’d pick a few of his drawings up and start to work on them. I’ve always had an interest in American traditional tattoos, and traditional flash, because a lot of those images were hand-drawn. Plus I’ve always gravitated to that folk-art kind of look.

On Kombucha:
I love how kombucha is gaining so much popularity lately, especially regarding the shift in the U.S. toward health and wellness. For the past ten years, I’ve tended to eat more local, seasonal foods. I limit my meat intake, but I don’t like to label my lifestyle. I can’t say I’m vegan or this or that. I try to eat more plant-based, and here with Evan’s menu its really easy to do that. I taught yoga for years, and with a yoga background I really believe in the idea that food is medicine.

Photo Credit: David Zuccarelli
Cammie Villanueva
Photo Credit: David Zuccarelli
Cammie Villanueva

CAMMIE VILLANUEVA
Hailing from St. Charles, Illinois, and now living in-and-around Chicago for the past 18 years, Cammie admittedly has difficulty summing up her professional endeavors into one word. A part-time employee at Cultivated Culture, a flash tattoo artist, a vintage clothing connoisseur, and more, she’s an unashamed ‘jack of all trades,’ and has some pretty awesome ink as well.

On Ink:
My husband owns a tattoo shop in Chicago. Getting tattooed, being in tattoo shops all the time, I feel like I’m immersed in it. We were in London last month for the 14th annual tattoo invitational. And we love doing that, going to conventions, and exploring all these other styles of tattoos.

I developed a passion for flash in 2012 after spending time with my husband’s artwork. I’d pick a few of his drawings up and start to work on them. I’ve always had an interest in American traditional tattoos, and traditional flash, because a lot of those images were hand-drawn. Plus I’ve always gravitated to that folk-art kind of look.

On Kombucha:
I love how kombucha is gaining so much popularity lately, especially regarding the shift in the U.S. toward health and wellness. For the past ten years, I’ve tended to eat more local, seasonal foods. I limit my meat intake, but I don’t like to label my lifestyle. I can’t say I’m vegan or this or that. I try to eat more plant-based, and here with Evan’s menu its really easy to do that. I taught yoga for years, and with a yoga background I really believe in the idea that food is medicine.

On Miller:
When I sign my checks and I write my address, it’s Gary. Miller is a neighborhood of Gary, and I’m proud to be living here. I love how quaint Lake Street is and how cute the beach is, but honestly I wouldn’t have moved here if it wasn’t part of Gary. You can’t ignore that we’re a part of a city that’s still hurting, but there are also a lot of positives happening, like the movement of art activism. It’s exciting to be connected to that. To me, I love the history of cities, and how they grow and evolve and can bounce back.

On Life:
For a long time, I truly believed I had this personality flaw, which was that I couldn’t make up my mind on one thing I wanted to do. I had a passion and interest for so many different things, and I felt that was bad. But I just learned to embrace it. And I’m very fortunate that the people around me support the fact that I can’t be pigeonholed into one definable career path. My advice is just to explore all your options. Knowledge is power. Travel as much as possible, and always try to leave things better than you found them.

Photo Credit: David Zuccarelli
Cammie Villanueva
Photo Credit: David Zuccarelli
Cammie Villanueva

Cultivated Culture Cafe is located at 615 Lake St in Gary. For more information, visit their Facebook page or call 219.702.4045.