Rod Johnson and Pernell Cezar are the founders of BLK & Bold, a black-owned coffee company that they created from their headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, a year and a half ago, according to cuisinenoir.com.
As daily coffee consumers—roughly 64% of Americans start their day with a cup of coffee, according to Reuters—they noticed a lack of representation in an already booming industry. They built BLK & Bold with a charitable hook: 5% of its proceeds go toward issues such as helping eradicate youth homelessness and addressing food insecurities.
“We really wanted to find a way to impact that vulnerable demographic by doing something we do every day, which is enjoying a cup of coffee or tea,” Cezar said. “The vision of the brand goes back to amplifying contribution and awareness of how for-profit can be this engine for domestic impact.”
Cezar and Johnson oversee every operational step, which begins with identifying importers. Roasting and cupping (the formal practice of tasting the coffee), as well as packaging and distribution, all happen from their Des Moines facilities.
Looking toward the future, the duo is planning a line of specialty beverages, including single-serve coffee bags in compostable packaging and ready-to-drink beverages.
“The more we can build access and distribution within our markets, the more that 5% [donation will] correlate back to their market and it can become more sizable and more normalized. We want to create a new model for new representation for all these things that have already existed and never had a way to connect,” Johnson told Cuisine Noir.