Since the fall, Industrious members may have noticed an addition to the coffee on tap at their location.

The workplace provider has a new initiative that aims to build more inclusive communities by featuring a minority-owned roaster from a different region of the country in its 100-plus locations each quarter.

One of these roasters, BLK & Bold, got its start in 2018 when childhood best friends Pernell Cezar and Rod Johnson decided to combine their love of coffee and tea with their dream of helping at-risk youth. Since launching in Cezar’s garage in Des Moines, Iowa, two years ago, BLK & Bold has grown into the country’s first Black-owned, nationally distributed coffee and tea company, with products available at major retailers such as Target, Whole Foods, and Amazon. Cezar and Johnson have kept true to their original vision by donating five percent of BLK & Bold’s profits to organizations that work to provide youth programming, prepare young people for the workforce, and eradicate homelessness among children and teenagers.

Read on to hear from BLK & Bold’s founders and learn more about their coffees.

BLK & Bold’s coffees will be available at Industrious locations throughout the year. (Aspen Jeanne Photography)

What sets BLK & Bold apart?

There are many differentiators between us and our competitors; however, the top two are quality and impact. The word specialty in our formal name … describes the integrity of our products. The Specialty Coffee Association grades coffee on a scale from 1 to 100 and anything exceeding 80 is deemed specialty. That’s all we carry. That value proposition isn’t lost as the company explores new product forms [such as] Steeped Coffee; by introducing Steeped as another SKU, BLK & Bold can meet the needs of coffee traditionalists and those more interested in innovation.

In addition, the social impact model embedded at the core of what we do sets us apart. Five percent of our profits are contributed to initiatives and nonprofit organizations that support at-risk youth. By simply checking something off one’s grocery list or visiting a nearby coffee shop that carries BLK & Bold, consumers are able to participate seamlessly in helping such a vulnerable demographic.

Where do you source your beans from?

Through relationships with micro-importers and farming co-ops. Our beans represent a myriad of locales: Honduras, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Colombia, and Burundi.

How do you approach roasting and roast types (light, medium, dark)?

With love and patience 🙂

The beans dictate our approach (we try not to under-/over-roast) with the sole focus of maximizing each coffee’s flavor profile as each bean takes on the characteristics of crops grown in close proximity.

BLK & Bold sells blends, single-origin roasts, reusable coffee pods, and a variety of loose leaf teas. (BLK & Bold)

How do you like to take your coffee?

Pernell: French press brewed, straight black.

Cezar: Brewed using pour over method, no sugar, no cream.

When do you do your best work?

Pernell: From a literal timing perspective, the morning is my favorite, after a cup of coffee of course. From 5 am to noon, I am the most productive compared to other times throughout the day. It’s my preference to work in clean, uncluttered spaces with lots of natural light.

How do you believe coffee connects us or plays a role in a sense of community?

Coffee is the start of most people’s daily ritual considering it is the second-most consumed beverage in the world behind water. Whether for taste or functionality, many [of us] rely on coffee to begin the day’s journey. To that point, coffee often bridges generational gaps and serves as the lubricant for friendly and business conversations. Despite how or how often one indulges, we all can agree that no one deserves a trash cup of coffee and that’s something we can commune over.

Pernell and Johnson grew up on the same block in Gary, Indiana. (Courtesy BLK & Bold)

Why do you love what you do?

We are able to impact and support youth that are faced with circumstances/obstacles out of their control by doing something we do everyday: enjoying a cup of coffee or tea. By providing access to better for our youth, we fulfill an altruistic purpose on our journey to become philanthropists.