After a second racial Starbucks scandal rocked the coffee chain earlier this week, many Black patrons are seeking ways to find a replacement for their morning brew. As a result, several Black-owned coffee shops have seen an uptick in patronage.
The Seattle-based business was thrust into the national spotlight after two Black men were arrested following accusations of trespassing at a Philadelphia location Thursday, April 12. Then, on Monday, April 16, a video surfaced of a Black man being denied access to the restroom in a Los Angeles-area Starbucks because he didn’t make a purchase. Meanwhile, a white customer who had yet to buy anything was given the restroom code.
As the public continues to protest the incidents, they’ve also migrated toward Black-owned businesses in Sacramento and Oakland, Calif., as well as Durham, N.C.
“We have been getting phone calls, we have been getting emails,” said Makeda Berhane, owner of Sacramento’s Tiferet Coffee House to Fox 40 Tuesday, April 17. “People have reached out to us in numerous ways just thanking us for being who we are, providing the service that we are, and we’ve had a surge, especially at our H Street location, of the community’s support, coming in to thank us.”
Berhane said the shop’s customer service sets them apart from Starbucks, as they allow anyone to come in an work without the caveat of having to make a purchase. That was one of the issues that led a manager in Philadelphia to call police on the two Black men in Starbucks.
Another Black-owned California coffee shop, Red Clay Cafe, saw an increase in customers thanks to actor Wendell Pierce. The “Selma” star tweeted Red Clay “is an excellent alternative to Starbucks… African-American owned with respect for the community Starbucks has offended. #BoycottStarbucks.”
Red Bay Coffee Roasters in Oakland @redbaycoffee is an excellent alternative to Starbucks. A company I am engaged with as we bring a store to Richmond CA. African American owned with respect for the community Starbucks has offended. #BoycottStarbucks
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) April 14, 2018
“It’s really the values here about inclusion and diversity are baked into our DNA,” founder Keba Konte told KTVU Tuesday. “We’re able to identify the environment as a stakeholder. The community as a stakeholder. We’re paying above minimum wage. We’re doing profit sharing.”
He noted that the business is expanding to 15 cities nationwide over five years and will continue to grow thereafter.
And it’s not just west coast coffeehouses feeling the boom. Durham, N.C.’s Beyu Cafe has also seen business increase as folks ditch Starbucks.
“It’s not just known because of the dollar signs behind it,” General Manager David Best told Spectrum News Monday. “It’s known because of the character and culture it has created, as well as that it’s Black-owned. It’s important that people realized that you can be Black-owned and be prosperous and make an impact in the community.”