Starbucks incident spurs interest in alternatives
RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - The arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks has engaged the African American community in a multitude of ways.
Many are calling for mass boycotts, some are picketing in front of Starbucks. The incident has certainly hit an emotional nerve.
“I’m never going back to Starbucks and I think other Blk ppl shouldn’t either," tweeted JettaBnc @DarkSkin_2019.
“The companies that are being racist towards us is just an opportunity for us to support & build more Blk owned busns bc that’s what we need, we don’t need another boycott” JettaBnc writes.
Whether for or against boycotting the Seattle-based global coffee company, it may be good to experience an alternative to Starbucks and support the blackowned enterprises.
ShoppeBlack.us, an online site which encourages “buying black,” published a list of black-owned coffee and tea businesses as alternatives to Starbucks. Black Enterprise magazine piggybacked on the idea and added 13 more black-owned businesses creating a list of 60.
Neither list included any black-owned coffee shops in Florida. But our newspaper reached out to find some alternatives to Starbucks in Florida. Some are blackowned establishments, all say they are welcoming to diverse coffee drinkers.
Beethoven Francois, owner of Kafe HUB in Riviera Beach, said many conversation about the Starbucks controversy were buzzing around his café.
“People came in on the first day, but that was because of the hype on social media,” said Francois, when asked if his business had seen an uptick in business from the Starbucks arrests.
“I get support from the community despite Starbucks. White, black, purple, silver, it doesn’t matter, said Francois.
Not only is high-quality coffee served at Kafe HUB, the 4,800-square-foot space provides a co-working space and an impressive food menu.
Francois said he started his café in an neighborhood which is 83 percent black to affect his community.
“Locating coffee establishments in the black communities is a strategy for gentrification,” said Francois. “I want us to lead the development of our communities instead of having other people come in and start raising prices.”
“We started coffee,” said Francois. He said the brewing and drinking of coffee started in Ethiopia and spread abroad. Coffee plantations are now found in Asia, South Pacific, South and Central American and the Caribbean.
Blue mountain coffee, found only in Jamaica, is one of the most expensive and highly demanded coffees in the world. Francois said the Japanese have now bought out most of the farms to directly supply the high demand in Japanese and Asian markets.
“Coffee is a 160-billion-dollar industry,” said Francois. “It would be a beautiful thing to have more black-owned coffee shops.”
Kafe Hub is among a growing number of what the industry calls “third wave” cafes which really have no need to compete with Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, or McDonalds. Instead, these shops cater to discerning coffee lovers (sometimes warmly called “coffee snobs”) who enjoy knowing the coffee, its origins and the roaster.
In the “third wave” people seek a coffee experience that includes the barista personally making their coffee. Customers may actually spend less in one of these specialty coffee shops, but many say the quality of the product is exponentially greater.
Customers can order a flat white, doppio espresso, a latte, macchiato and more. The handmade "pour-over" takes time to make and is said to be exquisite. Most of these “third wave” alternatives make their own cold brew coffee which can take up to eighteen hours to process.
"Starbucks is more like a fast food system,” said Keith Palagye, owner of Harold’s Coffee Lounge in West Palm Beach.
Both Francois and Palagye consider their coffee establishments as a beginning of the “fourth wave.”
Harold’s Coffee Lounge buys its blends from one of the top coffee roasters in the country, Intelligentsia Roasters based in Chicago. Their pastries and breads are fresh baked in house using only the finest ingredients. Unlike, Starbucks which delivers their products from distribution centers.
Last week there was an African drum circle adding stimulating beats to a caffeine-infused evening, said Palagye. No part of the community is left out. The following night the Lounge hosted a Christian open mike session.
“We don’t need sensitivity training here,” boasts Palagye.
Adon Williams, 31, began his venture into the coffee business as a coffee roaster in Miami years ago. Now he is the owner of Mad Chiller World in Tampa which adds a variety of waffles to accompany their coffee blends.
Mad Chiller’s menu combines coffee and tea and adds a specialty drink called “kava” which is gaining consumers who enjoy a “more relaxing effect,” said Williams.
The energetic entrepreneur has opened a new venture in Colorado but he misses his social connections in Miami.
“One day soon we will be back in Miami,” said Williams.
COFFEE OPTIONS: Coffee shop owners, like Beethoven Francois of Kafe Hub, welcome customers seeking alternatives to Starbucks.