LA Black owned cafes to visit instead of Starbucks

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LaNisa Williams remembers the cup of coffee that ignited her passion for brewing. She brewed a cup of Ethiopian coffee using a pouring method and tasted blueberries.

“It was mind-blowing,” she said. “That’s when I was, like, that’s really what I’d like to do. I want to be able to extract flavor notes from the coffee.

Her career in coffee began working as a barista at Starbucks and then at Peet’s Coffee, where Williams rose through the ranks to become a manager and trainer. Today, she works with coffee businesses across town through her own independent in-home training and demonstration business, Barista Vie LA.

She also works to bring attention to black professionals in the specialty coffee industry. Amid George Floyd’s recent protests and movements for the lives of Blacks, she and her partner came up with a hashtag: #BlackinBrew.

LaNisa Williams, Founder of Barista Life LA.

(Angel Taylor)

Williams used the hashtag to share short profiles of black baristas, roasters and other coffee professionals on his Instagram. Her efforts are attracting attention: she has received over 60 submissions so far and some from as far away as the UK.

“Over the past three or four years, I have seen the number of black-owned coffee shops and black-owned coffee companies increase,” she said. “They do amazing things in the coffee industry, and I just like to give credit where it’s due.”

Despite a growing community of black professionals, Williams says the industry suffers from wage inequalities and a lack of representation in major coffee associations and competitions. She hopes a spotlight on the community can help change that.

And the number of local black-owned coffee businesses in Los Angeles has been an inspiration and a support network for Williams’ dream of someday opening his own brick and mortar coffee business.

“It’s the happiest I’ve been in the coffee industry for a long time,” she said.

As part of our series on Black Owned Businesses in Los Angeles, we’ve started compiling a resource guide that highlights black-owned coffee shops and coffee businesses. (To draw our attention to a business, email us at [email protected])

All of these businesses have take-out and / or delivery options, and many will return to in-store service as soon as coronavirus restrictions continue to be relaxed in LA County.

Bloom & Plume Coffee
Co-founded by Maurice Harris, the Los Angeles-based artist behind Bloom & Plume, a bespoke floral design studio. The location adjacent to Echo Park is open for take out. 1638 W. Temple St., Westlake, bloomandplumecoffee.com

Boketo Cold Brew
Boketto delivers cold brew coffee directly to homes, offices and restaurants. It also offers craft teas and a cold-brewed nitro bike that can be hired for events. bokettocoldbrew.com

Flower Boy Project
A café, a florist and a boutique by designer Sean Knibb. Open for take out. 824 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, flowerboyproject.com

Cafe Harun
Harun Coffee is a café, gallery and shop in Leimert Park. The gallery hosts art exhibitions, and the boutique offers local brand and artist-owned products, which can also be found in its online store. Open for take out and delivery. 4336, boulevard Degnan, parc Leimert, harunintl.com

Yonnie Hagos, left and Ajay Relan, right, founders of Hilltop Coffee & Kitchen.

Yonnie Hagos, left and Ajay Relan, right, founders of Hilltop Coffee & Kitchen.

(Jennifer Johnson)

Coffee and kitchen at the top of the hill
Founded by LA-native Yonnie Hagos and Ajay Relan, Hilltop offers breakfast and lunch options, as well as coffee and juice.
Open for take out and delivery. Two locations: 4427 W. Slauson Ave., View Park-Windsor Hills and 170 N. La Brea Ave., Inglewood, findyourhilltop.com

Hot and fresh coffee
Founded by head brewer Anthony Jolly, it offers coffee, juices, smoothies, and food with vegan options. Open for personal local delivery within 3 miles and take out. They are also on Grubhub and Seamless. 4331, boulevard Degnan, parc Leimert, hotandcoolcafe.com

Cafe Nimbus
A Harry Potter inspired cafe with themed coffee drinks and decor. Open for take out. 1115 S Hope St., downtown Los Angeles.

Yoshawn Smith is the head barista at Patria Coffee in Compton.

Yoshawn Smith is the head barista at Patria Coffee in Compton.

(Julio Bustamente)

Cafe Patria
Small batch roaster with sustainable coffee roasted on-site to order, with Yoshawn Smith as senior barista. Open for take out. 108 Alameda Street, Compton, patriacoffee.com

Silverback coffee
Founded by Jack Karuletwa, Silverback sources his coffee from farms in Rwanda, where he grew up. Part of the profits are donated to Rwandan organizations. The Echo Park location is open for take out and limited meals. 1712 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, silverbackcoffee.com

Amanda-Jane Thomas, left, and Shanita Nicholas, co-founders of Sip & Sonder in Inglewood.

Amanda-Jane Thomas, left, and Shanita Nicholas, co-founders of Sip & Sonder in Inglewood.

(Sweet)

Sip & Probe
Two lawyers, Amanda-Jane Thomas and Shanita Nicholas, became friends and started Sip and Sonder, an entrepreneurial and creative hub that also houses a café. Open for take out. 108 S Market St, Inglewood, sipandsonder.com

South LA cafe.

South LA cafe.

(Karla Houston)

South LA Cafe
Founded by Joe and Celia Ward-Wallace, who grew up in the area, South LA Cafe serves food and coffee in a community center. 1700, boulevard Browning, exhibition center, southlacafe.com

Underground cafe
Undergrind offers a variety of flavored lattes, coffee drinks, and breakfast foods. Open for take out and delivery. 2713 S Robertson Blvd., Beverlywood, undergrindcafe.com

Black Vanilla
Vanessa Butler’s little cafe in Echo Park offers a variety of coffee drinks, including ‘vanilla bomb’ and vegan options. 1825 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park.



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