black owned coffee and tea

Black Owned Coffee and Tea Businesses That are Great Alternatives to Starbucks


In 2018, a Philadelphia Starbucks employee called the police on two Black patrons. Their crime? Waiting for a friend. The cops still arrested them.

More recently, Starbucks sent an internal memo to its employees banning them from wearing accessories or clothing that shows support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

BuzzFeed News obtained the memo, which reminded staffers of the company’s accessories policy that forbids accessories that “advocated a political, religious or personal issue.” A number of employees told the outlet that the company commonly permits and even advocates that employees don pro-LGBTQ+ pins, particularly during Pride Month in June.

When next you feel the need for some Starbucks, you may want to consider these Black Owned Coffee and Tea Businesses instead.

Black Owned Coffee and Tea Businesses

Grind House Coffee Co. (Huber Heights, OH) offers differing blends and flavors from as far away as southeast Asia to the mugs of Daytonians, as well as customers across the U.S. through online sales.

South LA Cafe (Los Angeles, CA) provides coffee, tea, and healthy and affordable food options to the South LA community.

Uprising Muffin Company (Washington DC) offers homemade muffins, coffee, sandwiches & salads served in a relaxed setting with comfy seating.

Northwest Coffee Roasting Company (Clayton, MO) is an artisan coffee roaster that embodies the legacy of coffee by unifying communities, stimulating dialogue, and providing hand roasted and brewed full city coffee.

Teatopia (St Louis, MO) offers 70 different teas as well as other small food items that will leave you amazed and wanting more.

TeaLee’s Tea House & Bookstore (Denver, CO) provides high-quality loose leaf teas, food, and specialty drinks, including beer and wine in an afro-centric atmosphere.

Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books (Philadelphia, PA) is a cool coffee shop and bookstore that also hosts live events like book signings and movie screenings.

Sip & Savor (Chicago, IL) offers the finest certified fair trade coffee from around the world, as well as a wide selection of teas, mochas, lattes, and blended drinks. They also serve delicious pastries and small bites from local bakeries.

Black Swan Espresso (Newark, NJ) is Newark’s first Specialty Coffee and Tea Shop. They specialize in using the highest quality international coffee beans in all their roasts.

Red Bay Coffee (Oakland, CA) is building a global community through our commitment to sourcing, developing, roasting, and delivering the best and most beautiful coffee to the people.

Upper Cup Coffee Co. (Columbus, OH) offers house-roasted espressos & creative pours are the focus of this brick-walled cafe with sandwiches.

Whittier Cafe (Denver, CO) is an artsy coffee shop with a lending library & a cozy patio serving espresso-based drinks & cafe fare.

Black Owned Coffee and Tea Businesses

Sankofa Video Books & Cafe (Washington, DC) is a relaxed coffeehouse offering light cafe bites plus African-focused books & film screenings.

Cuples Tea House (Baltimore, MD) is a family-owned and operated tea business offering featuring premium loose leaf teas, tea accessories, and culture in a socially connected atmosphere.

Kaffeine Coffee Internet & Office Cafe (Houston, TX) is a relaxed, funky cafe featuring coffee, sandwiches & baked goods, plus Wi-Fi & printing services.

Not So Urban Coffee & Roastery (Oxford, GA) is a small batch micro roaster specializing in responsibly, ethically & sustainably sourced coffee from Africa, South/Central America, and Asia.

Golden Thyme Coffee & Cafe (St Paul, MN) is an easygoing place with a warm vibe offering a variety of coffee blends named after your favorite jazz artists, bagels, cakes, and many other delightful treats.

More Than Java Cafe’ (Laurel, MD) is a vibrant outpost featuring classic cafe dishes, espresso drinks & ice cream, plus live music nights.

Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse (Philadelphia, PA) is a comic book store and coffee shop hybrid that offers everything from comics, toys, games, and figurines, to coffee & espresso related beverages, and baked goods.

Ain’t She Sweet Cafe (Chicago, IL) is a casual, cozy eatery offering counter-serve sandwiches, smoothies & house-baked desserts.

Cafe Dejena (Oakland, CA) is a local Eritrean café that offers dine-in meals all day, grab & go for those on the run, and catering for small events.

Beyu Caffe (Durham, NC) is an upbeat, bohemian hangout offering coffee, all-day American fare, a full bar, live jazz & free WiFi.

Boon Boona Coffee (Seattle, WA) sources the finest coffee, from the birthplace of coffee, East Africa.

DC Conscious Cafe (Washington, DC) is “more than a cafe”. They offer good food, dialogue, entertainment, civic engagement, and advocacy for the good of our community.

Serengeti Teas & Spices (New York, NY) introduces the history, magic, sumptuous taste, and exotic flavors of Africa via signature coffees, teas, cocoas & spices.

Rise and Grind Café (Milwaukee, WI) offers hot and cold sandwiches, soups, breakfast items. They also offer catering and meal planning services.

Calabash Teahouse & Cafe (Washington, DC) is a popular teahouse ready to help you with foods & teas for dynamic living.

Urban Grind Coffee House (Atlanta, GA) is a hip coffeehouse with cafe menu & free WiFi holds film screenings, poetry slams & other arty events.

Just Add Honey Tea Company (Atlanta, GA) is a sophisticated twist on a southern tea tradition we offer thoughtfully blended loose leaf teas made in small batches to ensure the perfect cup cheers!

Tsion Cafe & Bakery (NY) is a petite, stylish cafe featuring contemporary Ethiopian cuisine in a warm space with patio seating.

Culture Coffee Too (Washington, DC) is a coffee shop, art gallery, live performance venue, and event space, with a mission to bring delicious coffee, and diverse culture to the Washington, DC community.


-Tony O. Lawson

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  1. This is awesome!

    I had to laugh though, at Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books being listed as in Pennsylvania, PA. 😛

    Sad not to see any Boston area businesses, but there’s a lot of country to cover. 🙂

  2. The Coffee Enthusiast “A Brewing Company” in Camden Co. NJ. (Event based specialty coffee roasters & online owned by Stephen & Natasha Zinnerman)
    Grind House Coffee in Ohio.(Brick and Mortar locations owned by Bill Miller Jr.)
    The Golden Cup Coffeehouse in Buffalo, NY.
    Deadstock Coffee in Portland, OR.

  3. Uncle Bobbie’s is in Philadelphia, PA. A great place in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia; an area with a storied black history tradition. We have been supporting it. Marc may need to expand sooner than he anticipated!!

  4. We have Blacc Vanilla here in Newburgh, NY which is Black Owned and an outstanding addition to our Hudson Valley Community.

    • So thrilled to see this! I’m from Ulster County and I visit family often up there, we’ll stop by in Newburgh on our way up the Thruway next time 🙂

    • Blacc Vanilla I live in the town of newburgh and I would love to patronize your business. Where in Newburgh are you?

    • Thank you for providing that info. I live in the Hudson Valley and had no idea there is a black-owned coffee shop in Newburgh. Definitely gonna stop by soon. Thanks again, Danny!

    • I stopped in this morning for a coffee. Love this place and the owner’s are fantastic people bringing some spirit back to Newburgh.

  5. Urbean Joe Coffee Cafe’ in East Cleveland, Ohio is the 1st Independent Black owned Coffee brand and franchise in the United States. A 5 star quality commodity Urbean Joe Coffee Cafe’ with the slogan P.S.”Coffee With a Touch of Soul” and carries the tag line “Sip Soulful” will open May 2018 in East Cleveland, Ohio

    • Tiferet Coffee and Tea has three locations in Sacramento. Owned by two sisters who are the most amazing people.

  6. Great information. Thank you. I live in Columbus Ohio but did not know about Upper Cup on Parsons Ave. A coffee lover, I’m always on the lookout for a great cup of coffee wherever I go.

    • I just KNEW there had to be at least ONE in Detroit. Should be 100. Alicia George has been anchoring this community since 2010!

  7. There’s Akhirah’s Praline Candy and Coffee House
    “A Sweet Taste of New Orleans”
    Chicago, Ill.

  8. Tea’s Me Cafe in Indianapolis, IN, which was started by a black family, then sold to retired WNBA star Tamika Catchings in 2017.

  9. Can we sustain the support of these Black-Owned businesses this time or will we stop and go back to starbucks when we forget why we’re pissed off 6 weeks from now? We must strategically spend and circulate our dollar with a purpose, not based off emotion.

  10. I’m surprised only one in NYC! Brooklyn is very diverse, but I didn’t see any shops mention on the list. What about Queens, Bronx, & Staten Island ?

  11. Tiferet Coffee has three locations in Sacramento. Owned by sisters who are the best people you could ever know. I stopped going to Starbucks three years ago when they opened their first shop. I miss them when I’m out of town.

  12. What happened was atrocious, but no way that was company policy. Howard Schultz is pretty much on the side of the angels when it comes to social issues. He offered health and education benefits to employees well before any of his competitors. I’m sure he’s appalled at this. Remember that this is the company that the right-wing boycotts.

    You don’t have to like their coffee (I like some but not others), and patronizing local business is a fine thing to do, but let’s not demonize Starbucks as a whole because of a stupid and bigoted store manager.

    • Inclined to agree when and if appropriate action is taken against said store manager. I haven’t heard that they’ve done anything punitive to the store manager or admitted guilt yet and the initial story was refuted by customers. So currently, Starbucks is on the hook with me and needs to right their wrong.

    • Black isn’t a synonym for left wing so what does the right wing have to do with this?

      Third party or not, they represent the Starbucks brand. The same thing happened when Independent BP Stations wanted to distance themselves from BP with the disaster in the Gulf. I work for a third party retailer and not only do customer complaints go to our headquarters, they go their headquarters while customers only care about the brand.

      Oh yeah, apologies are the equivalent of folks saying that they were hacked. It may or may not be legitimate but the brand is the issue with this situation and not just the location. How many locations does this third party own? I don’t know or care. But it is bigger than just the singular person and location.

      • Black isn’t synonymous with the left, but since that word is vastly hated by the right…

        Well, you can do the math.

  13. I love what you’ve done with this story. But how do people find these places after the story controversy has subsided? Our startup, Spendwith, addresses the intersectionality of the culture and commerce by providing an app that empowers people to curate lists of products, services, and places all organized by culture. Also, it gives people the ability to discover culture connected brands online and offline.

    Check out the app at

  14. Other African Owned Establishments in Minnesota – Twin Cities/Metro Area left off this list:

    Heritage Tea House
    360 University Ave W suite 103, St Paul, MN 55103.

    Lady Elegant’s Tea Room & Gift Shoppe
    2230 Carter Ave, St Paul, MN 55108

    Limu Coffee
    500 5th Ave NW # 109, New Brighton, MN 55112

    Breaking Bread Café & Catering
    1210 W Broadway Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55411

  15. Also looking for Florida options. I’m in Jacksonville, but frequent the central FL area. Will be getting Cuban coffee from Mambo’s for the time being which is local owned, not a chain and not non-Hispanic white owned which is the best I can do for now! Will also order online! Keep the list coming!

  16. I have additions:

    Gingered Peach in Lawrenceville, NJ (delicious bakery with coffee and tea too.

    Taking Tea in Style, in Princeton, NJ (tea party catering company, very popular locally and she also has a popular TV show on Princeton Community TV

    Coffees of Grace (online, owned by Grace Hightower De Niro, yes Robert De Niro wife. She sources the coffee directly from East Africa paying the women way more than other companies. She sponsored an event of mine in Harlem and she came with the Ugandan Ambassador to the U.N.)

    I’ve worked with all three companies. They should be on your list!

  17. I absolutely love this. We don’t have anything like this in Texas that I know of. I often think of opening up a coffee/ tea shop in my city just don’t how to get started. I even have the name already. Supporting my black brothers and sistas.

  18. Seattle only has one???? (Boon Boona, a roaster). Lots of indie coffee shops here in the land of Starbucks but only one black-owned?

    • Let us know if you find another one Seattle. I am in need the PNW is a large area ; there just has to be some more around

  19. @BoogieDownGrind in the South Bronx is another – I’d say there are enough out there for an industry group to form up – if it hasn’t already – lmk. We are opening up in Chelsea this weekend too 🙂

  20. I LOVE More Than Java, but please also add Sweets and Treats Creamery Cafe in Laurel, MD (just up the block from MTJ) and Sidamo Coffee and Tea Company in Fulton, MD to your list. Thank you!

  21. Java Jazz Cafe
    613 W 35th Street
    Norfolk, Virginia 23508

    Opened on November 10, 2011


    Serves breakfast and coffee

    Good For Groups
    Outdoor Seating

  22. Baltimore can represent more than just tea:
    Peace and a Cup of Joe – Baltimore, MD
    NuBohemia – Baltimore, MD
    Water for Chocolate – Baltimore, MD

  23. Check out this Herbal Remedy brand called Leaves of magic started by a Canadian/Ghanaian woman. We produce herbal teas made of African medicinal herbs. Primarily moringa herbal teas and powder.| Available worldwide. Follow us on instagram and facebook @leavesofmagichc and leaves of magic health. Based in Accra, Ghana. Connected to Toronto, Canada.

  24. Makes me sad to see nothing in Dallas, Texas. I hope that changes soon.
    Marvelous list. Thank you for making this available. I expect it will expand exponentially in the coming years.

    • I was going to give a shout to Tougo. Great coffee and the owner is impossibly nice (and bilingual!). Now I will check out Cortona and Avole. Thanks for the tip(s)

  25. […] Therefore if Starbucks really wants to truly change lives, they need to not invest in ending discrimination within their coffee shops just, they need to invest in being advocates for closing discrimination in the us. If they will get us all to cover five bucks for espresso, this will be no big offer. Or they are able to just be just like the Elmwood Cafe in Berkeley and allow it blow over and obtain back again to business as typical. My children and I haven’t been back again to The Elmwood Cafe since. I fell in love with little dual shot, no whip, mochas at Starbucks, but if they don’t really make real lasting adjustments, I can have them many, many, a great many other places. […]

    • I believe thunderbird coffee in austin is black owned.
      Brian might be the owner’s name.

      Think he’s also opening a fried chicken place down on manor.
      Need i say more? 😛

  26. […] So if Starbucks wants to truly make a difference, then they need to not just commit to ending discrimination in their coffee shops, they need to commit to being advocates for ending discrimination in America. If they can get us all to pay five bucks for coffee, this should be no big deal. Or they can just be like The Elmwood Cafe in Berkeley and let it blow over and get back to business as usual. My family and I haven’t been back to The Elmwood Cafe since. I fell in love with small double shot, no whip, mochas at Starbucks, but if they don’t make real lasting changes, I can get them many, many, many other places. […]

  27. Great list! Let’s add
    1.Royal Cup Cafe, Long Beach, CA
    2. Tak’s Coffee Shop, LA
    3. Watts Coffee House, LA

  28. […] So if Starbucks wants to truly make a difference, then they need to not just commit to ending discrimination in their coffee shops, they need to commit to being advocates for ending discrimination in America. If they can get us all to pay five bucks for coffee, this should be no big deal. Or they can just be like The Elmwood Cafe in Berkeley and let it blow over and get back to business as usual. My family and I haven’t been back to The Elmwood Cafe since. I fell in love with small double shot, no whip, mochas at Starbucks, but if they don’t make real lasting changes, I can get them many, many, many other places. […]

  29. Almost all of the brick and Mortar Coffeshops / Cafes listed have been added to the Bobspotter (Black Owned Business Spotter) mobile app which you can download of free in all app stores!

  30. Tea’s Me Cafe In Indianapolis, IN. Tea, coffee, breakfast, & lunch shop owned by former WNBA star Tamika Catchings. She is doing wonderful things for our neighborhood!

  31. Miller Beach in Gary, IN is a great community with black-owned businesses, including coffeehouses, yoga studios, and vintage shops.

  32. Thank you for that article. It’s a long overdue exposure to the number of people of color, investing back into our communities by way of coffee culture.

    We are Bushwick Grind #bushwickgrind on social and

    Ironically the hyper local news has been the brand new Starbucks that just opened 2 blocks from us. We have gotten so many concerned comments from our amazingly loyal guests (see their comments on Yelp and Google) that they pray the presence of that coffee mega giant does not impact our business.

    It would have been great to make your list and proudly post in our cafe ;-)! Fortunately, I know they are now many to select from which is a great problem to have. I just wanted to introduce ourselves to be a publication. I’ll also start subscribing today, have a great day!

  33. My cousin owns “Back to the grind” coffee on University Have and Orange st in Riverside Ca. Over 20 years in business. art gallery, live music, library, computers, WiFi, food, and atmosphere! Great place! Oh yea, we are BLACK OWNED.

  34. In Philadelphia there is an Ethiopian coffeehouse called Kaffa Crossing. It is an unpretentious community hub that has had an excellent track record for at least 15 years. They only use fair trade coffee from independent co-operatives. And to top it all off, they serve some of the best Ethiopian food in the city.

  35. Wow, Amazing! I must have to say that it’s an inspiration to them who are going to open coffee shop for business purpose. especially to see Uncle’s Bobby’s cafe 😀 . Really well decorated all the cafe’s and those all are mesmerized with a great environment. Gonna visit all those cafe’s soon. Want to gaze at coffee in those shops 😉

  36. Thanks for listing Arnold’s Tea in Pittsburgh. Will look for it. Any places that specialize in coffee near there?

  37. Add us as well, Brue Coffee at 960 Genesee Street, Rochester, NY (at Brooks Landing)( Stop by 7 days a week. Enjoy the comedy of Yolanda Smilez ( on the first Friday of every month.

  38. Upper Cup Coffe Co is awesome! If you’re in Columbus, OH definitely check them out. Good coffee and their grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich is amazing.

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