A new BIPOC-owned specialty coffee company with a strong social impact commitment called BLQK Coffee has emerged in Los Angeles, focusing on coffees sourced from African countries packaged in sharp black bags.
Co-founded by former NFL running back and fitness entrepreneur Justin Watson and fellow Angeleno, minority stakeholder Ritchie Tuazon, BLQK is pledging to deliver a whopping 25% of its profits to social justice initiatives and organizations.
Watson, a self-described coffee lover who won a Super Bowl ring as a member of the 2000 St. Louis Rams, said the decision to launch the business was cemented following last May’s killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. He said coffee provided an ideal vehicle to launch a company pursuing social impact.
“We contribute to social justice organizations, including those that educate and bridge opportunity gaps, as well as food justice,” Watson recently told DCN. “Right now there is no formal application process but we are all ears in learning about new organizations.”
BLQK, pronounced as a series of letters (“B-L-Q-K”) is currently working with roasting partner Lamill Coffee, also based in L.A., for coffees packaged in sleek, matte black 12-ounce bags. For the brand’s official launch about two weeks ago, BLQK made available subscriptions or individual purchases, offering a single-origin Guji coffee from Ethiopia, as well as an “All-African” blend.
Said Watson, “As we grow, we are excited to partner with more regions of the world as long as the coffee is sustainably sourced.”
Watson added that the long-term goal is to scale up the business’s social impact in lockstep with the coffee business.
“Our plan is to focus mostly on direct-to-consumer sales and getting the word out about our excellent coffee and socially driven mission,” he said. “If we do this well, we believe other pieces such as brick and mortar and wholesale roasting will follow.”
Nick Brown is the editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine.
Yeah! Welcome to the family, BLQK!! Great business model. I hope that you take your values all the way through the supply chain to the village level. There are way too many folks who forget that piece, and their commitments here are on the backs of men, women and children at the other end. Beware! This is a badass, badass industry! Best of luck.
Nick, Congratulations on this article. So good to see people with abundant wealth want to give something back and create meaning, so in line with our goal: Profit with Purpose! These guys really need to know what we are doing in Uganda – they will love our coffee and our social enterprise in the home of mountain gorillas and coffee farmers that live in these communities. Here is a link to our Foundation website that is working directly with Gorilla Highlands Coffee to bring this wonderful coffee right here to the US, starting in Detroit! Please pass this on to them, thanks. https://www.noblegorilla.org/creating-changes-with-coffee-commun
Heeeeeey, where can I get some, where’s your order page. I’m not on any social media just youtube. Would love to try some. I like mine full-bodied with just a little cream and a little sweetener.
How can I get some coffee and a hat??