Business is booming in Boston’s coffee culture. Three of the most prominent American specialty coffee companies—Counter Culture, Blue Bottle, and Intelligentsia—have set up shop there, with a burgeoning micro-roaster community of its own. In the historically Black neighborhood of Dorchester, Massachusetts, just south of downtown Boston, a coffee scene is growing on its own. Enter Ripple Cafe, a Black-owned coffee pop-up that opened last summer in the dining room of Taste of Eden, a Jamaican restaurant in Codman Square on the corner of Withington and Norfolk. After a successful first year, Ripple Cafe is moving into a permanent cafe space less than a mile from the pop-up, and they’re looking to the community for help funding renovations.
According to their Gofundme campaign, Ripple Cafe is slated to begin renovations immediately and hope to open by October 1st of 2018. Along with continuing to offer Counter Culture coffee, juices, and pastries, the cafe’s stated goals include creating a sustainable living for their baristas through liveable wages, investing back into the community through non-profit work, and providing first-time jobs for local youth. Owners Gaelle Ducheine and James Guerrier spelled it out on the cafe’s Gofundme page:
We have dreamed of owning this sort of cafe for years, but we knew the implications of debt financing in such a start-up situation would create financial pressure on the business. We wanted to start small and experience an organic growth, as this would mitigate risk and give us time to learn the ins and outs of the business. We built a coffee cart in the summer of 2017 and set up in spare dining room space inside a Jamaican restaurant in Dorchester’s Codman Square as a pop-up enterprise. We sold specialty coffee, tea, smoothies, and locally sourced pastries for a year, building great relationships with customers and making great friends along the way. We self-financed the entire operation and continued to do so until the pop-up was able to sustain itself. It took a lot of hard work, but it was sweet to see it flourishing on its own and to gain a glimpse of that organic growth and effect we had been longing for.
We are proud of our initial success as young entrepreneurs, owners of one of a very small handful of Black Owned Independent Coffee Shop’s in the city of Boston.
We’re living in a time where folks in marginalized communities are rallying hard to support each other, and we’ve been fortunate to see this same work taking place in coffee spaces. Groups like Boston Intersectional Coffee Collective (founded by Intelligentsia Post Office Square lead barista, Kristina Jackson) remind us our support for minority coffee folks—especially Black coffee folks—is not only important, but necessary. Fundraisers like the one underway in Dorchester offer another opportunity to extend support to minority-owned businesses dedicated to reinvesting into the communities they come from. It’s a ripple effect of positivity and growth that will reach far and wide to better the world of coffee, for drinkers and business owners alike.
Photos via Ripple Cafe.