Back in October, Cxffeeblack announced a shoe collaboration with the proceeds going to help fund their most ambitious project yet: The Barista Exchange Program, a multi-phase initiative that would send Black American coffee professionals to Africa as well as bringing African baristas to America. With the Barista Exchange Program taking shape and coming closer to fruition, the Memphis-based coffee brand is kicking fundraising into overdrive with a GoFundMe pledge, new coffee collabs, limited edition merch, and even an event or two.
The program will work in three phases. First, Cxffeeblack will select four Black coffee professionals to take an origin trip to Africa scheduled for November to be timed with the harvest. The trip will includes stops in Ethiopia—to experience Black coffee culture outside of the effects of colonization, per Cxffeeblack’s Bartholomew Jones—as well as Rwanda, where the scholarship recipients can experience a coffee culture that has had to unlearn colonial traditions thrust upon them. Attendees will also get to visit coffee farms to learn more about the producer side of the equation in the birthplace of the plant.
The value to scholarship recipients over, say, a traditional SCA course, Jones tells Sprudge, is “the experience is heritage. What’s front facing [in SCA-type training] is the culinary aspect, not the cultural.”
In Phase Two, four individuals from the African continent will be brought to America to trains at Cxffeeblack’s Anti-Gentrification Cxffee Club, visit Black- and minority-owned cafes around the country, and even work bar shifts. Then finally, Phase Three will see the release of a new documentary chronicling the experiences from the first two phases.
In order to provide these eight trans-Atlantic scholarships, though, Cxffeeblack needs to raise the funds. Per the GoFundMe page, the goal is to raise an additional $40,000, which will be used for travel and lodging, logistics, help with securing visas, and paying the farmers for the education they will be providing.
But there are more ways to get involved than just donating. Along with the crowdfunding efforts, Cxffeeblack will be releasing a host of collab coffees, kicking off with a soon-to-be-released offering with Rabbit Hole Roasters, which will then be followed up with a coffee by Onyx Coffee Lab. There will be limited edition merch, including a very small run of hand-painted denim by Tayler Ayers as well as new drops created with longtime Cxffeeblack collaborators, Rjv Collectives. And there are a few coffee dinners in the works around the United States.
And for those looking to apply to the scholarships—for both Phase One and Two—Jones states that they will be made public at the end of the month, but interested parties can text 901-713-6555 to get notified once they are available as well as get information on how to view their first documentary Cxffeeblack to Africa.
[Editor’s note: the applications are now available and can be submitted here.]
Cxffeeblack is also opening up four spots for individuals who don’t need scholarship assistance in order to make the trip to Africa. And to stay up to date on all the collabs, drops, and events assisting in the fundraising, visit Cxffeeblack’s official website and follow them on Instagram.
But first, the 40 large. If you are able, head over to the Barista Exchange GoFundMe page to donate.
Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.