After taking four Black American coffee professionals to coffee farms in Africa, Cxffeeblack’s ambitious Barista Exchange Program is entering its second phase. With a Memphis brick-and-mortar cafe just over the horizon, Cxffeeblack will host African coffee professionals to come Stateside in order to study the craft. And the Barista Exchange Program scholarship recipients have been officially announced.

Initially planning on endowing four individuals from the African continent with scholarships, the Barista Exchange Program has broadened to offer five full scholarship, two collaborative scholarships, and two research fellows. The expanded program has been made possible, in part, via the support of Vanderbilt University, whose Institute of Coffee Studies and Coffee Equity Lab—part of the Program in Culture, Advocacy & Leadership headed by Dr. Gabriel A. Torres Colón—has partnered with Cxffeeblack. The Nashville university will provide official academic letters of invitation to all the participants as well as helping to create “a digital curriculum on connecting precolonial coffee ideology from ceremonies such as Buna Qualla from the Gadaa System in Oromia, and connecting those to other indigenous philosophies with other Afro diasporan communities, to propose a more human forward way of interacting the coffee plan for our species,” Cxffeeblack’s Bartholomew Jones states.

For Ted Fischer, the Director of Vanderbilt’s Institute of Coffee Studies, working with Cxffeeblack on the Barista Exchange Program is a practical extension of their research. “We in academia (at least the social sciences) are very much interested in what have been termed ‘decolonizing’ efforts. An important part of decolonizing is increasing diversity of representation—that proverbial seat at the table,” Fischer tells Sprudge. “But it also goes beyond this: what are the assumptions built into the Western worldview about humans v. nature, that numerical data is superior, and so on. Academics like me (and Gaby) write and theorize about this a lot. Thus, we were so excited to learn of the Cxffeeblack project and meet with Bartholomew and Renata. They are DOING what we are theorizing about… They are driven more by mission than by profits.”

The list of scholars recipients are as follows:

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 Full Scholarship Recipients

Beamlak Melesse Bekele (Ethiopia) – Ethiopian Barista Championship Runner-Up
Tadele Teshome Jiru (Ethiopia) – Ethiopian Barista Champion and Head Roaster at Buncho Coffee
Angelique Niwemukobwa (Rwanda) – Head Roaster at Ino Coffee Series
Joel Arusha (Rwanda) – Lead Coffee Farmer for Inshuti za Kawa Youth Coffee Cooperative
Elise Dushimimana (Rwanda) – Senior Barista and Quality Assurance at Kivu Noir Cafe

Collaborative Scholarship Recipients

Kelvin Addo (Ghana) – Head Roaster at Jamestown Roaster
Lukonge Charles (Uganda) – Uganda Barista Championship Runner-Up and Head Barista at La Pâtisserie Express

Research Fellows

Smayah Uwajeneza (Rwanda) – Lawyer, Blogger, SCA Certified Coffee Professional, LEAD scholar, Q-grader, consultant, and founder of Elevate Through Coffee
Mario Alberto (Afro-Colombian) – Lead Farmer and Co-Founder at Solo Cafe and first-generation PhD student and Professor in Afro Diasporan Literature at Université Paris-Est Créteil

Following Phase Two, the Barista Exchange Program will culminate with the final phase, creating and releasing a documentary detailing the first two. For this, Cxffeeblack is teaming up with MiiR to help premier the documentary. The sustainability-focused drinkware maker has also been tapped to manufacture Cxffeeblack’s Capsule Collection that will be made exclusively with MiiR’s new line of apparel, the proceeds from which will go to raise funds and awareness for the Barista Exchange Program.

“As a founder-led and owned organization, MiiR has always taken an interest in supporting entrepreneurs and creatives passionate about a cause. The moment we met Bart and Renata of Cxffeeblack, we knew we were interacting with special people whose business we could potentially help grow—through our products, but also investment and relationship,” MiiR co-founder Rebecca Papé tells Sprudge. “Investing in Cxffeeblack and their Barista Exchange Program in particular has both inspired and enlightened MiiR to consider what it means to honor our roots—whether that journey is tracing back one’s ancestry, industry, or history—to acknowledge and restore what came before and remains a part of us, so that we can tell better stories today.”

For those looking to support the Barista Exchange Program, the brand is still accepting donations via its GoFundMe page. For more information, visit Cxffeeblack’s official website.

Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.