I like my coffee how I like my men: hot, strong and BLACK!
In the early stages of quarantine, with most coffee shops closed down, many of us turned to brewing our own cup of joe at home to get our fix. Whether you went the quick and easy K-Cup route, or prefer to ground your beans from scratch, we can all agree that the perfect cup of coffee has the ability to turn around even the worst of workdays.
For many of us coffee lovers, a cup of morning coffee is a necessity for setting the tone for our day. So, why not switch up your usual at-home caffeine fix by placing your dollars into some dope Black-owned businesses? If you want to step away from the Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts brand coffee to rise and grind for the real thing, order yourself some specialty coffees from one of these Black-owned coffee companies to keep you warm and toasty this fall.
10 Black-Owned Speciality Coffee Brands To Shop Online
BLK and Bold Specialty Beverages
Started by childhood best friends, Pernell Cezar and Jarrhod Johnson, BLK and Bold offers a variety of specialty coffee and tea blends with creative names such as Rise & GRND. The brand was the first Black-owned to be distributed nationally, now being sold nationwide at select Targets, Whole Foods Markets, and on Amazon. And if you needed any more reason to support these young men, the company pledges 5% of profits to local nonprofits, so your business will directly impact at-risk youth.
"If Dizzy, Basquiat, & Elijah McCoy roasted coffee, it would taste like Three Keys." That's the line you will find on the website of this Houston based craft coffee roastery founded by couple Tio and Kenzel Fallen. The name is inspired by the valves of the trumpet, and many of the blends have descriptions with connections to Jazz music. So, pour up a cup of one of their branded blends and vibe out to one of their playlists curated by renowned jazz musician, Jarritt Sheel.
Red Bay Coffee Roasters
Founded in 2014 by artist Keba Konte, Red Bay Coffee seeks to provide coffee that is both high-quality and sustainable. With roots in the Bay Area, this brand also strives to be inclusive in their hiring, including people of color, people with disabilities, the formerly incarcerated, and others from groups traditionally left out of the specialty coffee industry. And don't forget to grab one of their signature merch items that reads "Coffee: Africa's Gift to the World. You're Welcome."
Beanfruit Coffee Co.
M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I. I think you get the point of where Beanfruit Coffee Company got its humble beginnings. Though founder Paul Bonds was not a huge fan of coffee for a while, introduction to specialty coffee led him to experimenting with different types of coffee and eventually roasting his own. On the website you will find Colombian, Ethiopian, and Sumatran blends that can be purchased whole bean or grounded.
Historic Noir Coffee Group
Historic Noir Coffee Group is an Atlanta-based coffee company started by ATL native Ricardo Richardson, who then brought on two of his childhood friends to bring the vision to light in an industry where Ricardo didn't see a lot of minority representation. Staying true to the city that made them, each blend is named after the respective neighborhood that they grew up in: Decatur, Fourth Ward, and West End.
2 Bros Coffee Co. of Dallas, Texas offers the freshest gourmet coffee by the pound or in convenient K-Cup packs. Another specialty of theirs is CBD-infused coffee that can be delivered right to your door.
Signature Blends by KF
2020 has come with a lot of surprises, and one of them was discovering that Kim Fields has her own brand of coffee. Yes, thee Kim Fields! Based out of Atlanta, Signature Blends by KF has been putting out quality coffee, teas, dry rubs, and other beverage-related products since 2017. So, order a bag of a medium roast, and get some sweet and savory dry rub for your steak while you're at it.
Dating back to 1999, BD Imports has strived to not only provide high quality coffee, but also champion women's empowerment and gender equality. They offer three blends of coffee beans, and both decaf and caffeinated coffee pods.
Dope Coffee is what you'll find at the intersection of premium coffee and black culture. Founder and CEO Mike Loyd aims to show that Black people and Black culture should be seen in every aspect of coffee culture. Along with coffee, the brand also sells coffee-infused syrup, body scrub, and beard and scalp syrup.
CariBBrew is a Black women-founded and -owned coffee company providing coffee beans straight from Haiti. Though natural catastrophes that impacted the island slowed down the company's production, they continue to work in partnership with small scale coffee farmers in Haiti to grow the best quality beans, while also creating long-term, sustainable jobs on the island.
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Robin D. Thomas is a brunch loving, Brooklyn born and raised Licensed Social Worker currently working in the Bronx. When she's not writing about all things wellness, entertainment and love, you can find her eating her way through different cities and tending to her plants. Connect with her on IG and Twitter at @_MissRobin or on her Instagram wellness page @thisnoirethat.
In xoNecole's series Dope Abodes, we tour the living spaces of millennial women, where they dwell, how they live, and the things they choose to adorn and share their spaces with.
Annisa LiMara has called this space her home for two years. Her Atlanta sanctuary, which she aimed to give the look and feel of something you'd see in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest, embodies her vision of "stunning, yet functional and cozy."
"My home is a reflection of my brand, The Creative Peach Studios, and I am the 'Creative Peach,'" Annisa explains. "It was so easy to reflect who I am and my personal story in my space. When you walk into my home, you know that it is Annisa’s home. I’m so proud of that. So grateful."
On the journey to becoming a homeowner, Annisa looks back on her experience as a "rough one," detailing that she officially started house hunting in March 2020. It had become so expensive to rent, and the 30-something lifestyle influencer decided she would rather invest the money she spent renting into owning a home. However, nine days into house hunting, her search was put on hold for a year. The following year, in 2021, the process of finding the right home and going under contract took a total of four months.
"The resell route didn’t work out, so my realtor suggested a new construction home, which turned out to be the better option," she tells xoNecole of her experience. "Although it requires more patience, it turned out to be a much easier process and a lot easier to maintain since it’s brand new."
As it turns out, the open floor plan three-bedroom two-and-half-bath would prove to be a blank canvas for Annisa to flex her creativity and design skills.
As a new construction, she watched the townhome get built from the ground up, and due to the "cookie-cutter" nature of new builds, Annisa knew immediately that she would change everything about it. The best part about it? All of her updates were cosmetic, so transformation could occur without having to do major renovations to achieve the look and feel she desired.
"The first things I updated were all the lighting, adding built-ins around my fireplace, and installing wallpaper in my bedroom, office, and dining room! I also had board and batten installed in the upstairs loft to make a statement and the kitchen island," Annisa details.
"Lastly, we painted the loft a soft blush pink, the kitchen island is a gorgeous terracotta, and added contrast with black on the doors, fireplace, and stairwell banisters."
In total, she spent $15K in renovations (plus the cost of furniture and decor). And although she says the second level of her home is a "work-in-progress," two years in, she considers the transformation nearly done.
Annisa defines her decor style as "organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho," and with thoughtfully placed touches like plants, warm tones, and organic textures, her perspective can be felt throughout. "I found my point of view as a designer in my work and as I worked on my home, so it all came together organically based on what I was naturally drawn to."
"The organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho' is definitely my signature style. You’ll always see greenery, warm tones, brass, and rattan or wicker in just about every room. My color story is based on my brand [The Creative Peach Studios] colors: blush pink, ivory, olive and sage green, terracotta, and nudes," she adds.
It was her brand colors that would be the jumping-off point for her approach to decorating and styling her space. That, and a picture she had of what would become her sofa from Albany Park. She recalled her decor decisions, "It was their olive Park Sectional Sofa, and I knew instantly I wanted it, and it aligned with my brand colors naturally, so it was a no-brainer."
By drawing inspiration from Pinterest, favorite design brands like CB2, Arhaus, and Souk Bohemian, and through her work, Annisa allowed herself to be guided by her signature style as well as her instincts when making decor and color choices for her own home. "Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason; it just feels right."
Some of the aspects of her home that she regards as her favorites include her bedroom and its little nook where her bed is positioned, the open upstairs loft, and the open concept because "it really allows you to see all of the details I put into the design all at once." Another of her favorite finds is a purchase she copped from the thrift store years ago.
"I have this little brown and gold chair that I picked up for $6 at a thrift store in Jersey six years ago. I couldn’t afford much in my little studio, but the chair was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen."
In addition to accent walls featuring blush pink and terracotta tones throughout the space, her gallery wall is another element that immediately draws the eye of any guest who enters. Annisa recalled a fond memory of a fine art piece she purchased from a Black woman artist when she first moved to Atlanta that she now prominently features in her living room. "It was a Black villager from her travels in Africa, and I fell in love with it because it felt like an ancestor I never met. I later found out that she was the sister of one of my very first design clients two years later," she shares. "Talk about a full-circle moment!"
Cultivating a space takes time and patience, and that is a sentiment Annisa echoes when advising people who are looking to infuse more of themselves into their own dope abodes through design. "It is not a race, and you’ll spend more money if you rush into designing without really being intentional about the vision for your space," Annisa concludes. "You just need creativity and patience to do it! And most of all, make sure you feel like it’s an oasis for you!"
For more of Annisa, follow her on Instagram @annisalimara.
Tour Interior Designer Annisa LiMara's Modern Meets Midcentury ATL Home | Dope Abodes
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'Act II': Beyoncé's Country Era Is Paying Homage To Black Artists & Daring Us To Exist In Any Space We Choose
Super Bowl Sunday Queen Bey struck again, snatching all our edges and keeping us in the same chokehold we’ve been in for the past couple of decades. After her Verizon commercial, where she alluded to her power to break the internet, Beyoncé essentially broke the internet with her announcement that Renaissance Act II would be released on March 29, 2024. The final drop in this marketing masterpiece was the release of two new singles, “16 CARRIAGES” and “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM,” which have both soared to number one and two in the iTunes country music category.
However, despite the pure excitement by the BeyHive to follow Beyoncé wherever she leads them, there has already been pushback in the country music arena to deny the Queen access. Oklahoma station KYKC 100.1 FM denied a listener's request to hear Beyoncé’s new songs on its station because “We do not play Beyoncé' [sic] as we are a country music station," it responded via email.
This isn’t the first time Beyoncé has been dismissed in the genre. In 2016, when she released "Daddy’s Lessons" on Lemonade, she not only was met with backlash from country music fans but was also denied by the Recording Academy’s Country Committee after she submitted the record for a Grammy.
Beyoncé (2nd R) performs onstage with Emily Robison, Natalie Maines, and Martie Maguire of Dixie Chicks at the 50th annual CMA Awards in 2016.
Rick Diamond/Getty Images
We saw a similar response to Lil Nas X’s "Old Town Road" in 2019 when the original single was removed from the Billboard Country charts because it didn’t “embrace enough elements of today’s country music.” Lil Nas X went on to win a Grammy with Billy Ray Cyrus for the song’s music video but was only accepted into the category after Cyrus joined for the remix.
Though the origins of the country music genre are an extension of Black culture and African ancestry, Black artists have been essentially erased from the genre's existence. Examples of this are the modern-day banjo – featured in many country songs – which is a descendant of the West African instrument, the Akonting. As with most things in American history, once white audiences were introduced to the banjo in a more “acceptable” manner through racist minstrel shows of the 1850s-1870s, it was quickly appropriated.
This unintentionally led to the creation of the 1920s Hillbilly music, which at the time was mainly popular in the South and later evolved into the country genre we know today. Hillbilly music drew its inspiration from slave spirituals, field songs, hymns, and the blues, which all originated within the Black community, and up until the end of World War I when major record labels rebranded it as country, the genre was successfully integrated.
In fact, in Patrick Huber’s 2013 essay, "Black Hillbillies: African American Musicians On Old-Time Records, 1924–1932," he details the vast diversity in the genre. In the time period chronicled, approximately 50 Black artists were featured on commercialized records within Hillbilly music. Huber’s essay was part of a larger work edited by Diane Pecknold, "Hidden in the Mix: The African American Presence in Country Music," which focused on the large contributions Black musicians had to the industry.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Despite the huge success Hillbilly music had, record labels couldn’t fully capitalize on it while remaining diverse because of segregation throughout America. In order to market the music and artists to “mainstream” America, music executives not only segregated the genre but promoted it as “white music” and as white southerners migrated throughout the country, they took with them the ideology that country music was solely theirs. This eventually led to the erasure of Black artists and their contributions to their artistry and history.
These artists include DeFord Bailey, who was the first Black musician to play the Grand Ole Opry, and Charley Pride, the first Black person to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Many of us know musical legend Ray Charles for his contribution to soul music, but it isn’t common knowledge that his ability to blend country, R&B, and pop music greatly influences country music to this day. Additionally, Gus Cannon made jug bands (an ancestor to country music) popular in the 1920s and taught Johnny Cash, who is a country music icon.
As we make efforts to honor and acknowledge the Black musicians who helped mold country music into what it is today, we must also acknowledge how the intersectionality of Black womanhood has practically left this demographic out of the country music fabric completely.
As Black women face both racism and sexism (a.k.a. misogynoir), their denial of entry has been easier to maintain in this genre. Linda Martell, the first Black female solo artist to play the Grand Ole Opry, released her debut album, Color Me Country, in 1970. Though still considered a pioneer to many, her career was short, and she faced relentless discrimination and violence within the industry that eventually led her to leave country music altogether. The documentary, Bad Case of The Country Blues: The Linda Martell Story, chronicles her experiences from 1969-1975.
Though there are many up-and-coming Black country music artists, Beyoncé's entrance into this arena creates a clear and imminent threat to the genre’s marketing strategy that it is “white music.” She might be one of the most unapologetically Black artist of our times, penning lyrics such as, “I like my baby hair with baby hair and afros” and “I like my negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils.”
Argue with me if you like, but for the past decade, Beyoncé has been uplifting and celebrating Black culture and history.
She has made it clear that she has no desire to assimilate herself or her music into mainstream white culture. She is proud of who she is and where she comes from, which is why her making a country music album is a natural progression. Beyoncé's roots are in Texas, she often talks about her love for her state and her upbringing, and just as we heard in Act I of Renaissancewith the inspirations pulled from Chicago house, funk, soul, gospel, and New Orleans Bounce music; we will be serenaded by another layer of her upbringing and soul in Act II.
Beyoncé’s Renaissance is her unabashed way of not only using her stardom to prove that Black people are not a monolith but also paying homage to the Black artists who paved the way for her but are seemingly erased from history.
She highlights the multifaceted nature of Black culture and ignites conversations that force the full history of these genres to be represented and told. As a Black woman who grew up in Alabama and isn’t ashamed to share her love for country music, I was thrilled to hear "Daddy Lessons" in 2016 and I can’t wait for Act II of Renaissance to come out on March 29.
Whether you’re a member of the BeyHive or not, I hope you can see how Beyoncé’s musical evolution is allowing space for Black people, and moreover, Black women, to exist in whatever space they choose to pursue without feeling the need to diminish, readjust, or mold themselves into what someone else says you should be.
Through her art, she is creating a space for us all to live and exist in our fullness, or in short to live in true liberation.
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