It’s here! A complete video presentation of Black Coffee events in NYC and DC is now available via Sprudge Media Network on YouTube.
From creative director Michelle Johnson (The Chocolate Barista), Black Coffee centers the voices and perspectives of Black coffee professionals from around the world, each one with unique perspectives from up and down the value chain. These most recent live events took place in New York City (October 15th) and Washington DC (October 19th) at the Classic Stage Company in lower Manhattan and The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan, respectively. Each event was hosted by Michelle Johnson and produced by Sprudge, with video presentation directed by Lanny Huang.
And now, a word from creative director Michelle Johnson:
It’s been an amazing year for Black Coffee.
We broke ground on unfamiliar territory; for the first time, there’s a coffee event solely centered around Black people and our relationship to coffee culture as a whole. What started as a conversation on a couch in an historic theatre in Portland in the spring led to another off-Broadway in New York, and a third at Washington, D.C.’s prime boutique hotel in the fall. Looking back, so much has been achieved on and off stage.
Black Coffee NYC and D.C. were special each in their own ways. In New York, we focused on career longevity for Black coffee professionals. It wasn’t just about the barriers that kept people from upward mobility, but also what one deals with when they stick around for a while. Many of the panelists have worked in coffee for quite some time or moved up quickly in their careers and had a lot to say.
New York was deeply personal, cathartic, and soothing. Being in the presence of two legendary coffee professionals—Candice Madison and Lem Butler—was so moving, as they spoke candidly about their experiences working in coffee for over a decade.
D.C. was unique in that the conversation centered around its own community and the incredible amount of Blackness displayed on both sides of the bar. The audience was the majority Black and filled with new baristas, coffee consumers, and folks from the public who found this topic interesting enough to come listen.
Since D.C. is my hometown, it was important to celebrate the amount of pride the area has in its coffee scene. But the realities of starting a business in an expensive city rapidly gentrifying still holds many back, a topic my co-host Adam JacksonBey and panelists like Candy Schibli spoke about candidly.
One of my favorite parts from Black Coffee D.C. was Aisha Pew and her refreshing perspective on opening a cafe to take back our neighborhoods. Her spot in Baltimore, Dovecote Cafe, is an example of what a Black cafe can be and is for its community. “There are Dovecotes all over, you just gotta look for them,” she says.
There are countless moments and words of wisdom shared at all three shows that I go back to often. But the most valuable thing about Black Coffee is the network created as a result. Black coffee professionals, enthusiasts, and the coffee curious from all over are finding each other. They’re collaborating and helping out one another. They’re starting to see a place for themselves in coffee.
This was the goal of Black Coffee all along, and it feels like a success.
The NYC event was sponsored by La Marzocco USA, Revelator Coffee, Oatly, Everyman Espresso, and Oren’s Coffee Co. and featured co-hosts Tymika Lawrence (Atlas Coffee) and Ezra Baker (Oren’s Coffee Co.), alongside panel guests Lem Butler (Black & White Roasters), Kristina Hollie (Intelligentsia), Winston Thomas (Barista Champion of South Africa/Urnex Ambassador), and Candice Madison (Irving Farm). Ticket sales for this event benefitted Brownsville Community Culinary Center. Extra special thanks to the team at Everyman Espresso and Classic Stage Company for helping support this event onsite, and to Oren’s Coffee Co., Discovery Wines and Make My Cake for afterparty support. Live Instagram coverage and event photography was produced by Noemie Tshinaga.
The DC event was sponsored by La Marzocco USA, Oatly, Revelator Coffee, and The Line Hotel, and featured co-host Adam JacksonBey (The Potter’s House, Barista Guild of America Executive Council) alongside panelists including Aisha Pew (Dovecote Cafe), Candy Schibli (Southeastern Roastery), Reggie Elliott (Foreign National), Victoria Smith (The Cup We All Race 4), and Donte Gardner (Vigilante Coffee Company). Ticket sales at this event benefited Collective Action for Safe Spaces. Special thanks to everyone at The Line Hotel for their incredible support and accommodation for this event—particularly Farrah Skeiky for her exceptional coordination and consideration—and to Gran Cata and Danielle’s Desserts for afterparty support. Live Instagram coverage and event photography was produced by Kayla Butler.
All images from Black Coffee NYC by Noemie Tshinaga.
All images from Black Coffee DC by Kayla Butler.