Memphis, Tenn. – A Memphis couple has turned their love of coffee into a business, hoping to “reclaim coffee’s black history and reimagine its black future.”
Maurice and Renata Henderson set up a six-figure company called Cxffeeblack, located at the Anti Gentrification Cxffee Club in Highland Heights.
While Cxffeeblack may be a coffee brand, it is also a movement.
Morris says that when he walked into traditional coffeehouses, he noticed that they stood out. So, he started doing some research.
“I started looking into more history, and I said, ‘Why do I see all these African countries over there as well?'” “It led me to fall down the rabbit hole that colonialism played a huge role in the spread of coffee around the world,” Morris said.
Morris says he learned that coffee originated in Ethiopia, but today there is a lack of diversity in the industry both socially and economically. He and his wife want to bridge that gap.
“We imagine what the world could be like once black people take back the thing that was originally ours and how we can use that in a way that inspires not only the black community but the world in the future,” said Renata.
Just knowing the origins of coffee wasn’t enough for the Hendersons. They needed to see it for themselves. Over the past three years, they’ve taken multiple trips to Ethiopia and other parts of Africa to meet the people behind the product.
These encounters have even inspired how they run their businesses. Renata is the master roaster, in honor of the first female roasters and baristas being Ethiopian.
“Coffee for Ethiopia is not this commodity. It is part of society. It is like the glue of society,” Renata said.
The first trip was highlighted in their award winning documentary “Cxffeeblack to Africa”. Morris said they “want to see coffee represented not exclusively by people of African descent but inclusively by people of African descent.”
Hendersons says their brand is supplied by an all-black supply chain. Farmers grow their coffee “Guji Mane” in the town of Oraga in the Guji region of Oromia, Ethiopia.
A percentage of the proceeds from each bag goes back to the community in which it was harvested. “We don’t pretend to be experts in what we say. We just amplify voices,” Renata said.
Henderson’s mission doesn’t stop at coffee sales. Right now, they’re running a fundraiser called Barista Exchange.
“We’re trying to raise $40,000 to bring four African-American baristas to America to actually see how the process goes at that end of the supply chain. Next, we want to bring four African-American baristas to Africa to see what it’s like to be able to connect with one’s roots, ancestry, and spirit.” This thing to see where it came from,” Morris said.
Henderson designed a shoe to help fund the project.
Their desire to recapture the black history of coffee has caught the attention of coffee lovers around the world.
However, WREG still has one question. Why the “X” in coffee?
Morris explained, “For us, that means reconnecting with the places and people that historically cultivated this plant and learning a connection to them that goes beyond just espresso and cappuccino.”
For more information on Cxffeeblack and the Barista Exchange, head to https://cxffeeblack.com/