You likely have your morning coffee routine down pat, but there are so many options to explore. If you’ve been looking for a reason to switch-up your go-to cup, look no further than these coffee companies that will do more than just give you a boost. It’s always important to support small businesses, and these Black-owned coffee companies that also give back to their communities and growers are a great place to start. Whether it be through fair farming wages, ethical sourcing practices, or investing in local communities, when you buy your beans or freshly-brewed coffee from these Black-owned coffee companies, your purchase will do more than just wake you up.
Historians are still unsure when or where the first cup of coffee was made, but one fact remains: the
coffee plant originated in Africa, probably Ethiopia. According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO), as of 2020, Brazil is the top producer of coffee, but the plant’s beginnings are undeniable. BLK & Bold co-founder Rod Johnson tells Elite Daily, “We have an innate connection to coffee given the plant’s African origin.” He cites wanting to close the “gap in how coffee has been positioned to support the communities of its consumers” as a main reason he and co-founder Pernell Cezar established their business in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2018.
The benefits of buying from small businesses are no chump change.
According to 2019 data from the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), for every $1 spent at a small business, roughly 67 cents of that money remains in the community, thanks to employee spending or purchasing goods. Of course, there are more Black-owned businesses and coffee shops than those featured here, but if you’re looking to support Black-owned companies with each cup of coffee, these nine shops are a great place to start. Here’s what to know about the brands’ stories, missions, and commitment to coffee. We only include products that have been independently selected by Elite Daily's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. BLK & Bold was established by co-founders Pernell Cezar and Rod Johnson in 2018. As “over-enthusiastic” coffee and tea drinkers, Johnson tells Elite Daily they “desired representation on the other side of the counter.” BLK & Bold donates 5% of profits to initiatives dedicated to sustaining youth programs, enhancing workforce development, and ending youth homelessness. “Our primary objective as a brand is to give coffee lovers an avenue to reinvest back into their communities by way of our For Our Youth initiative,” Johnson says.
Good coffee is important, too, and BLK & Bold credits its roasting and sourcing methods for bringing out the best flavors. “Our coffees are curated for people to actually enjoy their morning ritual,” he shares.
Tony Forte, LaRon Batchelor, and
The Breakfast Club co-host Angela Yee founded Coffee Uplifts People, or CUP, in 2020 “ amidst the global pandemic and social unrest globally amplified by the death of George Floyd and institutional racism,” per the company’s LinkedIn page. “Coffee, despite a checkered and colonial history can be an important, unifying and disruptive voice in addressing systemic racism,” Tony Forte, Co-Founder & CEO, Coffee Uplifts People, tells Elite Daily.
“Coffee Uplifts People exists to bring unparalleled diversity, inclusiveness, representation, and equity to the coffee experience,”
Forte says. CUP employs direct and environmentally progressive trade practices, pays fair wages to farmers, and even eliminates upcharges for dairy milk alternatives in their Brooklyn coffee shop. “Many coffee lovers have dietary preferences and restrictions, and shouldn't be penalized for them by being upcharged,” he shares. Boon Boona CEO and founder Efrem Fesaha credits a 2011 trip to Asmara, Eritrea, as his inspiration to “explore coffee in a new way.” When he returned back home to Seattle, the coffee capital of the world, Fesaha pitched his business plan to nearby banks, but after a series of rejections, he decided to take matters into his own hands, traveling to Ethiopia to source coffee and start “roasting small amounts the traditional East African way with a jebena” (traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean pottery coffee pot).
Thanks to his many strong relationships with coffee producers throughout Africa, Fesaha was able to open Boon Boona in 2018, and the company has been dedicated to supporting its partnerships, specifically female growers, ever since. “I love getting to work with incredible producers throughout Africa, and finding great causes to support both back at the origin and locally,” Fesaha tells Elite Daily.
Growing up on her grandfather’s farm in Kenya, Maggy Nyamumbo,
founder of Kahawa 1893, tells Elite Daily she saw firsthand how women workers were responsible for “90% of the labor in coffee,” yet always remained “under-represented in the rest of the coffee industry.”
In 2017, Nyamumbo launched Kahawa 1893
to give back to African female farmers by establishing a “direct connection” with each of them. Kahawa 1893’s customers can do the same, thanks to the QR code included on every bag that lets you tip the women farmers based in Kenya, Rwanda, and the Congo for each delicious cup of coffee.
“I founded Kahawa 1893 to empower these women to make sure they were included and reaped the benefits of coffee,” Nyamumbo explains. “By drinking our coffee, you enjoy high quality delicious coffee and have impact at the same time, while closing the gender gap in coffee.”
Portrait Coffee is dedicated to making a local impact in southwest Atlanta, Georgia, “to include the black and brown folks who have been cropped out,” per the company’s website. The company’s name, Portrait, is meant to “change the picture that comes to mind when folks think of specialty coffee,” according to the company’s “About Us” page.
Founders John Onwuchekwa, Marcus Hollinger, Khalid Smith, Shawndra Onwuchekwa, Aaron Fender, and Erin Fender, told
Eater Atlanta in June 2020 that they’re “ energized by the thought of being able to have a positive impact in the community.”
Sip & Sonder’s flagship location opened in 2017 in Inglewood, California, co-founders Shanita Nicholas and Amanda-Jane Thomas hoped to foster a welcoming and creative space for customers who have a history of feeling like an outsider in coffee shops — a goal spawned from their own experiences.
As Nicholas moved around as a child, she tells Elite Daily the “experiences she had in coffee shops around the world weren't available in the communities she called home, predominantly Black neighborhoods.” Similarly, Thomas says she always dreamt of having a coffee shop in her community that would allow her to “stare out the window” and get “lost in her thoughts” as she warms up with a latte on a brisk winter day.
To make sure the space feels inviting, the Inglewood location offers an on-site multi-purpose room so coffee lovers in the neighborhood can feel connected to customers, community, culture, and of course, coffee.
Launched in 1999 by Patrick and Phyllis Johnson, Georgia-based
BD Imports has three major values: Work with quality suppliers; create sustainable communities by investing in the people who make up the company’s supply chain; and empower women through equitable compensation.
Phyllis Johnson’s 2018 article
Roast Magazine, titled “ Strong Black Coffee: Why Aren’t African-Americans More Prominent in the Coffee Industry?” reflected upon the “fascinating and tragic” history of coffee. She examined how African Americans are consistently on the outs in the coffee community, despite coffee’s roots. Johnson said in the piece, “African Americans are underrepresented in an industry in which they should have prominence and great pride.”
Founded in 2014 by Keba Konte,
Oakland, California-based Red Bay Coffee recognizes the importance of diversity and opportunity, according to the brand’s website. Red Bay seeks to hire and serve people of all backgrounds, including “people of color, the formerly incarcerated, women, and people with disabilities.” Black & White Coffee Roasters
Kyle Ramage and Lem Butler opened Black & White Coffee Roasters in 2017 to create “opportunities for coffee professionals to expand their careers, and to make specialty coffee more approachable to the masses,” according to the company’s
website. Butler, the first Black barista to win the United States Barista Championship in 2016, tells Elite Daily his experiences traveling the world as a barista have helped him learn how to improve his company at home.
“These unique experience have taken me around the world to teach and learn in some incredible countries with some incredibly hospitable people,” he says.
“We have incorporated a lot of what we learned internationally in what we do in our cafes.”
As you switch up your morning routine to include one of these Black-owned coffee spots, remember to check the
CDC guidelines for the most updated health rules, to make sure you’re getting out there and caffeinated as safely as possible. Don't miss a thing
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