LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – For a full week in September, seven black-owned coffee shops and roasters will be featured in an event called Black Lou Coffee Week.
The featured businesses are: Abol Cafe, West Lou Coffee, Old Louisville Coffee Co-op, Cafezinho, Vans Coffee Tour, Julee’s Mocha, and Brew and Sip Coffee Bar.
The week will culminate with the screening of a documentary about Memphis-based Cxffee Black and its journey to building an all-Black coffee supply chain at the Speed Art Museum. The screening is free to attend and begins September 25 at 1 p.m.
One store, Cafezinho, opened in Portland’s FifteenTwelve in early September. Both are co-owned by Nancy Smith and Jeremy Brown and are delighted to be in the spotlight.
“It’s just really important that especially minorities and women are highlighted in a space like coffee because you don’t see that much,” Smith said.
Smith says more people are discovering them every day. They offer vegan food and a range of drinks and are able to do things their own way. Smith believes this sets them apart from larger chains in the city.
“Of course there’s a place for the big corporate coffee houses, but I think there’s something special about having something locally owned that’s just small and where you can find something that you can’t find anywhere else,” Smith said .
Black Lou Coffee Week organizer Maya Black emphasizes what it means to be able to go to a coffee shop owned by someone who looks like you.
“It just creates a place of comfort and safety, love and attention, and you don’t get that in certain cafes, right, you see yourself when you go into that area and it’s very important to put yourself in to be able to see spaces,” said Schwarz.
Black explained one of the positives of highlighting these black-owned businesses. “Black people are into coffee, black people love coffee, there’s this myth like all over the world that black people aren’t integrated into this industry and so we’re just saying we’re here, we’re emphasizing that, we’re educating people from around.” around our businesses and letting the community know we’re focused on our businesses,” said Black.
While Cafezinho is still under construction, other locations being featured have received a lot of support. They have been employed by the Old Louisville Coffee Co-Op since it opened in late June.
“Actually, things went consistently well. It started out insanely busy like lines out front,” said co-owner Israel Bernard II.
Bernard adds that things are more manageable now but still stable. Bernard hopes Coffee Week will create more awareness of her shop and the idea that anyone can start their own business.
The Old Louisville Coffee Co-Op is Louisville’s only worker-owned coffee shop. Being a worker-owned cooperative means that each of its owners has an equal say in decisions. A majority decides what works or not.
This week-long event not only showcases those who have already made their dreams come true, but also serves as an inspiration for the next generation of black business owners.