– About Us –

The Company

Calders Coffee Café is a veteran-owned company that provides fine coffee house fare with a Highlands flair. Please visit us often at 384 Main Street, Highlands, NC.


The Why

Why “Calders?” Our goal for Calders is to be a mirror that reflects the beauty and history of the plateau. The name Calders is Scottish Gaelic and means “stony rivers” like what we see around our many waterfalls. The use of a Gaelic name is intended as a nod to our personal and regional Scot-Irish-Welsh ancestry. We have chosen to honor our four-legged neighbors with the use of a bear as a part of our logo. Our professional lives have always been intensely personal for us, and we look forward to playing our position on the Highlands Main Street team.

Our Story

The Hartman family is a US Navy family. As a part of the Navy, one of the first things that you learn is that community is everything. The life of the service member and the lives of the families often left behind literally depend on community support and engagement. The second thing you learn is that coffee enables individuals and communities to function better. “Coffee is an enabler of relationships” said Leigh Hartman, of Calders Coffee Cafe. “If you are just getting to know someone – grab a cup of coffee together. If you want to catch up with a friend whom you haven’t seen in a while – grab a cup of coffee together.  Are you contemplating an important decision? Discuss it over a cup of coffee. Does your partner still want to shop, while you are about to drop? Come in for a cup of coffee. Coffee is more than a beverage; it is part of who we are and how we do what we do.”

Why Highlands? After following orders all around the US, including Seattle during the great coffee awakening and Charleston with its gift of Southern Hospitality, the Hartmans finally got to select their “forever home.” Clay Hartman recalls that on the family’s first trip to Highlands, their young son said, “my soul is here,” and once that had been established, the rest was just details.

Meet the Owners

Leigh and Clay Hartman are year-round Highlanders who enjoy the sense of community and many wonderful aspects of Highlands living.

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Leigh Hartman


Leigh Hartman is the “Mama Bear” at Calders Coffee Café because she is passionate about how coffee enables the spirit of community. Growing up in the Southern resort areas of Hilton Head and Charleston, SC gave Leigh an appreciation for nature, history, and cosmopolitan visitors. She believes that a coffee house should be a hub for network building, relationship maintenance, contemplation, sustenance, and celebration.

Leigh spent 28 years managing portfolios of business transformation projects for large, global corporate and military clients. Leigh retired as a senior executive from Bank of America having specialized in business transformation in areas such as the company's supply chain management function, implementation of a global financials ERP system, and significant investments in the company's retail and global treasury business systems. Leigh was previously a managing consultant with Arthur D. Little working with clients in the US, South America, and Europe. Currently, Leigh teaches Operations Management in Queens University of Charlotte’s Flexible MBA program.

Leigh earned a BBA from Stetson University, an MBA from Charleston Southern University, and finally a DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) degree from Jacksonville University.

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Clay Hartman


Clay  Hartman is the "Papa Bear" at Calders Coffee Cafe. Clay manages the operations and business support for Calders. His passion is to build successful teams and create long-lasting ties to the community through positive business support for the town of Highlands and surrounding neighbors. Having sailed the world as an US Navy veteran he understands the international allure and love of coffee. Many would say the Navy runs on coffee.

Clay is a retired Naval Aviator with 25 years’ experience managing multimillion-dollar operations in a variety of demanding areas of national security. Clay is a hands-on senior executive and affable manager and mentor with proven ability to provide proactive leadership in developing people and winning teams. After retirement from the Navy, Clay found success in the renewable energy construction industry. He is an experienced General Contractor who lead turnaround and rapid growth business models to provide sustainable energy resources for our country.

Clay earned a BS in Civil Engineering from Cornell University, a Masters Certificate in Applied Project Management from Villanova University,  and Construction Management Certificate from Southern Polytechnic University.