Decolonize the bean: Black folks deserve a stake in the specialty coffee industry

In the industries that call Kentucky home, there is a heavily fortified, iron-clawed gate. As with bourbon and horses, the coffee industry is considered off-limits to BIPOC people in the Commonwealth and around the world.

However, why? Coffee is a fruit native to the homeland of people of color. Coffee is sown, harvested, and rooted in the soil of Africa, South America, Southern/Pacific Asia, and the Caribbean, all of which are inhabited by people of color who maintain beautiful farms. People of color are responsible for washing, drying, fermenting, and preparing coffee.

But why does the coffee industry continue to perpetuate the myth that Black people dislike coffee? Or the myth that African Americans cannot afford high-quality coffee. Or the myth that people of color are not interested in the coffee industry.

Being Black and drinking coffee in Louisville prior to 2020 was a confusing maze. The spark of West Lou Coffee during the pandemic gave Black Louisvillians a boost in the specialty coffee industry and sparked an energy around not only who can be behind the bar, serving others, but also in the warehouse with the coffee bean’s mechanics. Along with Black baristas who spearheaded local momentum within local cafes, West Lou Coffee broadened the education and scope of Black coffee people’s involvement in Louisville’s coffee industry.

Read more •

Suggested Reading