By Lauren E. Williams, Special to the AFRO
In April, two Black men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia for no apparent reason. Cell phone video of the incident helped the news go viral and the well-known, pricey, coffee chain was forced to act.
Starbucks issued an apology saying it would close its stores on May 29th and hold a training to “address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination, and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.”
The training was held last week. Employees reportedly worked in small groups to discuss their experiences of racism and discrimination, and Starbucks aired a now publicly released video – Story of Access – by Black filmmaker Stanley Nelson, featuring Common, to further encourage opportunities for dialogue and problem-solving.
While many agree Starbucks’ training was a positive step for the company, uncertainty around racial bias and behavior in business remains. And, a renewed conversation about finding alternatives to getting one’s morning, afternoon, or evening, java fix continues.
Black Washingtonians, like many across America, are also having this discussion. Thankfully, Black-owned coffee shops can be found throughout the District.
The AFRO highlights a few below.
2714 Georgia Ave NW
Located on Georgia Ave, home of many of the city’s oldest Black-owned businesses, sits Sankofa Books and Cafe. According to the store’s website, Sankofa was “named after the internationally acclaimed film called SANKOFA (produced by the founders). It’s symbol, the Sankofa Bird, looks backward with the egg of the future in her beak, constantly checking as she moves into the future.”
While the property has been Black-owned since 1997, according to the website, the Sankofa cafe was added in 2007. Sankofa Cafe hopes to be a place where thoughtful consideration of the past and future can take place.
1847 7th St NW
Handwritten notes, a calming vibe, and unique tea and coffee blends have made this place a D.C. favorite. In fact, according to their website, Calabash has won “Best in D.C.” five years in a row.
The teahouse boasts more than 100 teas and coffees and food inspired by family recipes. Washingtonians tend to go to Calabash for the tea and stay for the experience.
300 Riggs Rd NE
Culture Coffee Too is a new Black-owned shop that opened in November 2017. Located near the Fort Totten Metro Station, the coffeehouse had a star-studded ribbon-cutting with Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council members Brandon Todd and Robert White in attendance.
According to their website, Culture Coffee Too is a “diverse coffee shop, art gallery, live performance venue, and event space, with a mission to bring delicious coffee, and diverse culture to the Washington, DC community.” Their menu includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner items, and made-to-order coffee drinks.