These days coffee shops are not only for grabbing a cup of java on the way to work. They are places where people meet and mingle, work on their laptops, or even take in a poetry session and jazz jam. Now many African-American entrepreneurs have tapped into the new phenomenon by opening up coffee shops, some of which cater to the general public, others that celebrate African-American culture.
Here are just a few you may want to visit and sip gourmet coffee while taking in the view.
Bronzeville Coffee (www.bronzevillecoffee.com;773-536-0494) is in Chicago and has been a staple in the Grand Boulevard neighborhood since 2006. Owned and operated by Richard Chambers and Trez Pugh III, it is named after an area, Bronzeville, where African-American business used to flourish in the 1940’s. The coffee shop offers up an array of coffees from around the world. And by adhering to Fair Trade Certificate labels, they only serve up coffee in which farmers are receiving a fair wage. But it is not just coffee at Bronzeville; they also feature great teas, smoothies, desserts, and sandwiches. And of course, free Wi-Fi.
Fifth Street Dick’s Coffee House is located in Los Angeles’ famed African-American neighborhood, Leimert Park. Fifth Street Dick’s is an icon itself. On its walls are photographs of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon and the like. The coffee shop was founded by Richard Fulton, activist and jazz advocate. After Fulton died in 2000, his partner, Erma Kent, took over the day-to-day operations. You will find an array of folks here–students, artists, community leaders, musicians and actors. At Fifth Street Dick’s, it is more about the company you’ll find and the atmosphere, though the coffee’s not bad either. Besides coffee, they also offers sandwiches and a fresh juice of the day.
Watts Coffee House is in yet another famous L.A. neighborhood–Watts. Here they have Southern style cuisine along with coffee and tea. Sunday brunch is a must. But get there early. There is always a line. Also worth noting, it is supplied by the black-owned gourmet coffee company Howling Monk, which has a store in Inglewood.
Lucy Florence Coffee Shop (http://www.lucyflorence.org/) is coffee and culture that is served up at this L.A. hot spot, which is owned by twin brothers Richard and Ron Harris. There’s poetry, music, film, even tarot card readings–and of course coffee. You can also dine on dinner.
There are various Magic Johnson Starbucks across the country, as his corporation teamed up a few years ago with the coffee giant to open nearly 100 locations, in urban areas in Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, San Francisco and Washington. And these are not genetic Starbucks shops. Each store reflects the neighborhood it is in, be it African-American or Hispanic. The locations feature cultural events along with the standard Starbucks menu of coffees, desserts, etc.
Mirrors Coffeehouse, in Brooklyn, New York, was started by Monique Greenwood and her husband, Glenn Pogue, in 2000. The coffeehouse is decorated with mirrors and antiques and is a great place to relax over a nice hot cup of coffee.