Star­bucks in­ci­dent spurs in­ter­est in al­ter­na­tives

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By K. BAR­RETT BILALI

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., 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.


Kafe Hub

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