Pernell Cezar and Jarrhod “Rod” Johnson have given coffee lovers something to enjoy beyond just a well-brewed cup, through BLK & Bold Specialty Beverages.
A nationally distributed coffee brand that takes “Black-owned” to the next level, the startup with a social conscience boasts a “farm-to-cup” model through its partnership with Keffa Coffee, an Ethiopian coffee import business. The relationship supports coffee producers in regions across Africa and consumers abroad.
BLK & Bold co-founder Rod Johnson conducting quality control at the brand’s Des Moines, Iowa, headquarters.
BLK & Bold invests in Black communities at home by donating 5% of its profits to youth-centered nonprofit organizations like Urbanstead, Sunset Youth Services and Code Fever Miami, the latter right here in our South Florida backyard. The initiative has recently earned the company Certified B Corp status – a recognition given to businesses that balance purpose and profit by considering their impact on the community, their workers and customers.
Back in February, Cezar explained the inspiration behind BLK & Bold on a “Beyond the Beans” segment on Cheddar, a post cable news entertainment company.
“BLK & Bold came to be just from conversations with one of my best friends [Johnson] ... On how do we not wait to make an impact [using] the values that we have and make sure it is aligned with the way we continue to build our professional careers. We felt that entrepreneurship was the best path to do so,” said Cezar.
Both Cezar and Johnson became interested in providing consumers with a way to invest in their communities while enjoying sustainable, quality coffee, once predominantly available only at high-end coffee shops. After launching BLK & Bold in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2018, the two can now see their product on the shelves of retailers like Target, Whole Foods and Amazon across the nation.
“[Picking up a bag of Blk & Bold] allows consumers to extend their social impact footprint just by way of checking something off their grocery list,” said Cezar.
In a press release announcing their partnership with Target in January 2020, Johnson shared similar sentiments: “Creating a pathway for everyday people to become contributors to our most vulnerable communities is as fulfilling as it is motivating.”
The coffee connoisseurs also recognize the importance of diversity in product offerings – they sell specialty teas and branded merchandise, too – and in their company’s visually appealing packaging. Most important though, is flavor. BLK & Bold is noted for its unique taste pairings that transform a regular cup of coffee into an experience. One of its signature blends, cleverly titled “Rise & Grind,” is a medium roast caramel, lemon and nutty-flavored batch.
The same level of flavor sophistication can be found in its limited edition collection, which features distinctive flavor combinations like the Wush Wush blend, named after an area in Ethiopia. It’s a light roast infused with black cherries, grape – and red wine.
“Since you don’t drink bottom-shelf wine,” said Cezar, “you shouldn’t drink bottom-shelf coffee.”