The owner of Colorado’s Ink! Coffee company has apologized after a marketing campaign that made light of gentrification naturally backfired.
One side of a branded, printed sign placed outside the Ink! roastery café location at 2851 Larimer in Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood last week read, “Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014.” The other side read, “Nothing says gentrification like being able to order a cortado.”
— La Suprema Pistola (@theperfectRu) November 22, 2017
After photos of the sign spread through social media, someone tagged the exterior of the building with the words “White Coffee” in black spray paint. The Denver Post reports that a protest of the Five Points shop and of Ink! itself, is taking place this Saturday, Nov. 25.
The thing is, Five Points is one of the most historically and culturally significant neighborhoods in Denver, once home to a thriving African American culture that gave it the nickname “The Harlem of the West.” It is one of numerous neighborhoods throughout Denver — where an insurgence of tech money has ushered in a new class of professionals — that is seriously dealing with the complex realities of urban redevelopment and its effects on existing communities.
The owner of Ink! Coffee — which originated in Aspen and branched out in Denver to now include 16 retail locations — has taken to social media to apologize for the signs, which he suggested were part of a campaign devised by an advertising firm.
On Ink!’s Facebook page yesterday, Founder Keith Herbert wrote, in part, “When our advertising firm presented this campaign to us, I interpreted it as taking pride in being part of a dynamic, evolving community that is inclusive of people of all races, ethnicities, religions and gender identities. I recognize now that we had a blind spot to other legitimate interpretations.”