Let’s talk coffee. The silver medalist in global commodity popularity; oil of course taking the gold. Our best friend filling up our favorite mug in the cold harsh mornings, lifting us up and getting us going. (And If for some reason you're still searching for that oh-so-perfect mug or just need a change, check out this handmade beauty.)
Where did it come from? Who drinks it? And, what’s with those hipster trendy coffee roasters?
MAGIC BEANS FOUND
Discovered centuries ago, in either Ethiopia or Yemen, by a goat herder named Kaldi, as legend has it. Kaldi’s grazing goats were hanging around taste testing everything around them, as goats will do. After munching on these random berries the goats were electrified with energy. Bouncing and prancing and bleating like crazy. Kaldi took the magic berries to a monastery where the beans were turned into a beverage. And coffee was born.
Then colonized. Fast forward to the 1700’s, those little magic beans journeyed to the America’s. Their success carried on the backs of African slave labor.
COFFEE AND THE WHITE CONSUMER
Currently, just 54% of African-Americans drank coffee compared with 64% of Caucasians. Why? There are of course a few factors, one possibility being that coffee is marketed / endorsed by the middle-aged white male celebrity, a contrast to the young black athletes and musicians endorsing sugary carbonated beverages.
Another reason, specialty coffee with their steeped price tags are often not accessible to the African-American community and generally not found in lower income neighborhoods. Though, it was announced earlier this year Starbucks is planning to open stores in lower income communities.
Today, poured and sipped and enjoyed in sleek wood paneled “third wave” coffee houses awash in minimalist indie music and aglow in blue laptop lights. Served to predominately white males by cheery white baristas donning beards and trendy nose rings. Those specialty drinks and third wave coffee roasts are not without their steeped price tag. A prize for those on the other side of the racial divide, as historically, African-American’s endure a higher rate of poverty than their white counterparts.
Firstly, what is third wave coffee? And, yes, it is preceded by a first and second wave.
Currently, third wave coffee is a movement coined in 2002 (or 2003?) by Trish Rothgeb in an article for the Flamekeeper, a newsletter for the roasters guild. In a word simplified think - artisanal. Well known names are Intellegentsia or Blue Bottle.
The first wave was simply about accessibility to coffee, without much or any differentiation between home brewed coffee, grocery store bought coffee, instant or that white mug diner cup of Joe. Think, a cup of cup of Folgers.
The second wave, which started in the 1960s and is generally credited to Peets coffee (no, not Starbucks!), and focused more on the roasting, and most importantly origin. Think, Peets coffee, Starbucks.
Of the over 2,000 independent roasters across the United States, it is important to note there are only a handful of Black Owned coffee roasters.
In this 21st century world we inhabit inequality, systemic racism, and, yes, even slavery keep the sordid connection of yesterday's practices with today's modern life alive. Because systemic racism and injustice still exist today it is up to us to recognize and uplift those that have been barred from the same opportunities simply because they look different. To ensure representation for every person is visible in every industry.
Check out these seven African-American owned roasters. Follow them on social media, buy a bag of their beans.
RED BAY COFFEE
LOCATION: Oakland, CA
ABOUT: Red Bay Coffee Roasters was founded in 2014 by Keba Konte, a renowned artist and successful food entrepreneur with deep roots in the San Francisco Bay Area specialty coffee and hospitality industry.
SIP & SONDER
*check out their Vans Collab!*
LOCATION: Inglewood, CA
ABOUT: Established in 2017, Sip & Sonder's flagship location is the first specialty coffee house in Inglewood, California. With a coffee roaster, creative studio, and multi-purpose event space on site, Sip & Sonder is much more than your ordinary coffee shop—we are a Black women-owned innovative entrepreneurial and creative hub where coffee, community, and culture connect.
NOT SO URBAN COFFEE ROASTERY
RUSSELL’S GOURMET COFFEE
LOCATION: Sa Francisco Bay Area & Atlanta, GA
ABOUT: We focus on healthy and organic coffees and beverages that are not only good for you but taste great as well. We combine top quality 100% Arabica beans with our secret roasting profile to unlock the sweet flavors specific to each bean. Our beans are cultivated using environmentally sustainable methods without chemicals and additives to make every cup great for you and the environment. We take pride in making sure that quality is at the core of everything we do.
BOON BOONA COFFEE
LOCATION: Renton, WA
ABOUT: Growing up in Seattle, Boon Boona founder and CEO Efrem Fesaha was familiar with the experience of large coffee chains. Coming from an Eritrean family, he also grew up with the traditional coffee ceremony performed by Eritreans and Ethiopians, which is the way that many people from this region prepare their daily cup of coffee.
LOCATION: Charelston, SC
ABOUT: Not So Urban Coffee & Roastery is a small batch micro roaster located in Charleston, Sc. We specialize in responsibly, ethically & sustainably sourced coffee from Africa, South/Central America and Asia.
ABOUT: Brickhouse Gourmet Coffee & Tea Co. was born with a mission to not only share delicious gourmet beverages but also create a unique and exceptional experience with every sip. Our quality gourmet coffee beans and tea leaves are hand-picked by farmers throughout the world, from the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro in Africa to the high peaks of Oaxaca, Mexico.
LOCATION: Indianapolis, IN
ABOUT: Circadian Coffee is a minority woman owned small batch roasting company located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Circadian was founded in 2016 with the goal of bringing approachable specialty coffee to the Midwest and beyond.