19 Aug The Best Black-Owned Coffee Shops to Work & Study in LA, Houston, New York, Portland and More
By Natelegé Whaley
One of the most known coffee origin stories begins in Ethiopia. According to legend, an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi discovered the stimulating side effects of coffee when his goats behaved in a hyperactive manner after chewing on the caffeinated berries. Whether fact or fiction, coffee is believed to have been a central part of Ethiopian culture, as far back as the 9th century. Presently, coffee is Ethiopia’s most exported good, and the U.S. was the fourth-largest buyer of Ethiopian coffee in 2017 and 2018, according to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.
In America, many Black-owned coffee shops source coffee from Ethiopia and other countries in Africa and Latin America, as a nod to the true heritage of coffee and indigenous African and American growers.
“Much of the coffee consumed in the world is produced in Black and Brown countries and harvested, processed, and sold by Black and Brown people,” says Kymme Williams-Davis, the owner of Bushwick Grind, a coffee shop in Brooklyn, New York. Today, the shops and cafés built around coffee have taken on a culture of their own, providing a space for work, play, and community building.
“It is where blind dates turn into nuptials, strangers become best friends, books and term papers are written, independent movies and documentary have been filmed, and thousands of hours of therapy has been traded across the counter,” Williams has said.
Below is a list of Black-owned coffee shops where you can work, study, play, and get your caffeine fix.
Boketto Cold Brew – Los Angeles
Though it’s a great place to get work done or enjoy a nice cup of coffee, Boketto will also bring their signature cold brews to you. They have engineered a way to bring their sustainably farmed, artisan teas and coffees directly to consumers with the introduction of their Cold Brew Nitro Bike and their coffee keg delivery service, which is great for offices or other co-working spaces. For those working at home, consider subscribing to monthly deliveries of their 1.5-liter pouches that keep air out and last for over a month. For the more active set, check out their S.U.S. Sundays, where folks gather for cold brews and skate sessions.
Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen – Inglewood
Are you looking for coffee and inspiration in Inglewood? You’ll find it at the Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen, which offers a modern twist on cafe favorites as well as t-shirts, mugs, and bags with motivational messages. Hilltop’s menu goes beyond the average cafe experience, offering chorizo cheddar croissants, sweet potato bread pudding, and crispy chicken sandwiches. They pour up their Ethiopian brew with jasmine and bergamot flavor notes, and latte lovers can choose from lavender-flavored and pistachio-flavored beverages.
Best Friends Coffee & Bagels – Brownsburg
Get some creative inspiration from the unique and artistic offerings of Best Friends Coffee & Bagels. They’re an artisan coffee and bagel sandwich café that specializes in unique tasting flights of cold foam brews. Try the flight of Amaretto Cold Foam, Sweet Cream Cold Foam, S’mores Cold Foam, and Salted Caramel Cold Foam. You can also get filling eats while you work, like the Diesel Hasselhoff bagel sandwich, which comes with turkey, bacon, cheese, lettuce, sun-dried tomatoes, and veggie cream cheese on an asiago bagel. For sweeter options, try the Oreo or Cinnamon Toast Crunch bagel halves.
Brew & Sip Coffee Bar – Louisville, KY
Not only is Brew & Sip a great place to get work done, it’s also a place for community building, where you can meet with friends or meet new people. The owners pivoted from catering to coffee at the start of the COVID pandemic and are now serving up delicious brews like the Bourmella – bourbon caramel sauce over rich espresso, and steamed milk – and the Not Your Hiney, with cacao powder, honey, steamed milk, and espresso. They also sell home cooked, soulful meals on the weekends. They are currently running a Go Fund Me campaign to raise funds for a bigger space, which would give artists the opportunity to share their work and would give local residents the opportunity to host game nights and other gatherings.
La Vie En Rose Café – New Orleans, LA
The creole coffee shop La Vie En Rose Café is home to the rose cold brew. It recently relocated to the front of the Big Sexy Neon studio, a neon light art gallery. Among the bright lights, you can enjoy a cup of drip coffee, s’more lattes, locally baked goods, and a choice of sandwiches such as “Le Parisean,” served with ham or salami and topped with cheese, butter, and pickles.
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Bushwick Grind Coffee – New York, NY
Bushwick Grind Coffee is a community coffee shop pouring a diverse rotation of coffee from countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, and Columbia, to name a few. Besides being a space to kick back and sip on an international brew, Bushwick Grind also cares about food insecurity in the community at large. The shop hosts a community fridge and is building an urban garden in the lot adjacent to the cafe to meet the issue of hunger in the community.
Deadstock Coffee – Portland
Ian Williams brought his love for sneakers as a former sneaker developer and engineer for Nike and merged it with his passion for coffee to conceptualize Deadstock Coffee, a sneaker and basketball-themed coffee shop in Portland, Oregon. Deadstock, located right in the heart of the sneaker design capital, is a place made in mind for sneakerheads to chop it up about kicks while perusing rare sneaker collections, art, books, and magazines with Deadstock coffee in hand. Deadstock also burns coffee cherries from around the world, such as their Nenemar, which promises to taste like peach and milk chocolate and comes from Pico Agudo in Brazil. A signature drink is the LeBronald Palmer, a blend of coffee, sweet tea, and lemonade.
Day 6 Coffee – Houston
Day 6 Coffee has a lofty mission: to provide the optimal environment for creativity and productivity, where creatives, entrepreneurs, and high performers can build on ideas that will change the world. It’s the perfect place for folks looking to pursue their own lofty goals. Utilize their space to work and create while enjoying drinks like the Texas Latte or the Cheesecake Latte, along with their signature Brisket Kolache.
Drip Coffee Café – Houston
The Drip experience in Houston is two-fold: a full service café inside and a car wash and detail services outside the establishment. The Drip Coffee Café is furnished with communal-style seating where you can pull out your laptop and still have space to enjoy a full menu of snack and lunch options like their S’mores crepe or a six-piece wings and waffle meal with a selection of sauces.