Family Business: A Conversation With Jadakiss and His Kiss Café Co-Founders

Jason Phillips is best known as the award-winning artist, “Jadakiss”. However, his most recent title is co-founder of Kiss Café, a coffee business he started with his father, Bob, and his son, Jaewon.

We caught up with three generations of the Phillips family to find out more about their plan to create generational wealth.

Jason “Jadakiss” Phillips

kiss cafe

What is your role in the company?

I’m here to help make that connection with my and nearby audiences who may otherwise be overlooked. We want this brand to be accessible for all – kind of like my music, my persona. It’s for the people! 

But, we all work closely on all aspects of the business. Everything is done carefully and decided collectively – even the design and promotional efforts, where we partner with our external agency The Compound, and the amazing team led by Liza Goncalves.  

As a member of another legendary trio, what are your thoughts on what it takes for partnerships to last?

Communication is key. Giving each other the space to share ideas and concerns is critical. We’re family, but this is a business. If we don’t communicate, we won’t learn, and we won’t grow. We won’t succeed. 

What other artists/entrepreneurs inspire you? Why?

Definitely Styles P and Sheek. But, I follow the moves all my brothers are making – from Fab to Nas to Hov and Andre Three Stacks. There are a lot of dudes out there, not just spitting but doing amazing things beyond the tracks. 

Bob Phillips

kiss cafe

What is your role in the company?

We maintain all aspects of the business, including quality control, sourcing, blending, roasting, packaging and merchandising, distribution and delivery. I oversee much of this, with the assistance of the broader team. 

How did you get involved in the coffee industry?

My career started in 1977, shortly after Jason’s birth. I first worked for Maxwell House’s coffee division at the company’s corporate offices in White Plains, NY.  I was promoted to the office of Green Coffee as a buyer and that’s where I was really exposed to the world of coffee. 

Sometime later, I went to work for a large Brazilian exporting company. I believe it was, at the time, the country’s largest instant coffee maker. 

Eventually, I started my own company Caturra Corp. I’ve had the privilege of trading coffee for over 25 years.

What are your thoughts on the importance of creating generational wealth?

You don’t see a lot of this in the coffee industry or consumer goods for that matter. You don’t see Black legacy brands, let alone companies spanning three generations. 

The real value for me here isn’t monetary, it’s about the love for family, the love for coffee. I’m hopeful our work inspires others within and outside of our community – to create, build, and represent. 

Jaewon Phillips

kiss cafe

What is your role in the company?

I have my hands across a lot of things – helping manage the production side while focusing on supporting the distribution and promotional side. 

But, what I appreciate about Kiss Café, is how much we all work together. It truly is a family-owned and run entity. All said, even though we’re family, we all think and feel differently about things. It helps us see the bigger picture, differently. If you could be a fly on the wall in these meetings, you’d see that! 

As the youngest member of the team, what unique insights do you bring to the table?

I’m eager to bring the coffee experience to broader audiences in new and impactful ways. How do we reach and support colleges better? How do we reach overlooked communities that deserve to not only enjoy but learn about coffee – learn about all it has to offer, as a product, as a commodity, and as a business? Let’s look at social and new channels, experiential and pop-ups, and unexpected places for coffee to show up. There’s so much potential here. 

What business lessons have you learned while working in the coffee industry over the last few years?

I’ve learned so much in the last few years, working closely with my grandfather at Caturra Corp – everything from roasting to distribution to merchandising. There are so many aspects of the business that most of us don’t know about. We’re going to change that, I think. Give coffee lovers and novices more of an inside look into this world and what makes it so special.

@Tony O. Lawson


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