True to its name, Chicago-based On the Go Jo Coffee has been keeping one step ahead of the pandemic.
The Black women-owned and operated company that made its mark providing stylish catered coffee service for corporate and community events throughout 2019 has maintained some service on the go, but it’s also now catering to the stay-at-home crowd through a new line of roasted coffee and related products.
“Just like everyone in the event and hospitality space, we were hugely affected by the pandemic,” Crystal Graham, who founded the business along with friends Toni Dale and Quiana DeBerry, recently told DCN. “Due to the statewide mandates, we adjusted the catering side of our business significantly. We pivoted by offering drop-off service and accepting smaller socially distanced outdoor events.”
While hoping for a much busier 2021 though the potential return of in-person events, the company has now launched a line of coffees, syrups and loose-leaf teas that are available to consumers everywhere online.
Through a hands-on partnership with a local roaster, On the Go Jo is remaining fiercely devoted to supporting women through its own sourcing efforts.
“It’s extremely important for us to empower women throughout the supply chain, so we will continue to roast, learn, and support other female roasters,” Graham said, noting that the philosophy extends back to where coffee is grown and processed.
“Our brand’s mission is to exclusively work with female farmers. Therefore, you can definitely expect to see more coffees that are produced by women,” said Graham, noting an upcoming offering from a partnership with the women-driven Kula Project in Rwanda. “Our goal/vision is to truly make an impact by continuing to supporting women farmers, which in turns affects their economic development for their entire family.”
That Rwandan coffee will join OTGJ’s existing single-origin, women-produced coffees, including those from Mariana Limo Veloso of Brazil’s Veloso Coffee and from Angele Ciza of the Burundi producer group Kalico. Coffees are available for individual bag purchases or as part of a subscription.
Alongside the beans are some complementary products such as On the Go Jo branded simple syrups and teas. The company has also launched a wholesale portal. Graham said that despite the obvious hurdles presented to the catering side of the business, On the Go Jo has no intention to stay put.
“We are amazed by the response we have received thus far and we really see our business growing into a nationwide brand,” Graham said. “Our ultimate goal is to see our brand in retailers across the world, partnering with baristas to launch their own On The Go Jo carts across the U.S., and growing our subscription membership. This year we plan to release our cafe in a box experience to truly amplify our customers’ coffee ritual at home.”