Photo Credit: Monday Coffee Company
How Chicago's Black-Owned Monday Coffee Company Is Bringing The Community Together
Monday Coffee Company is a South Side, Chicago gem that was founded by Amanda Christine Harth and Felton Kizer, October 26, 2020. The café uses the community spirit of brewed coffee to bring the Midwest city’s Black community together through inspiring connections and networking opportunities.
The Monday Coffee establishment’s ‘Retreat and Rebuild’ residency program offers a shared co-working space for local Black artists and entrepreneurs at the Chicago-based coffee house and this is the first coffee-based residency that provides opportunities for community members founded by University of Chicago artist, Theaster Gates.
The café includes a commercial kitchen for local food vendors and chefs to serve South Side residents who may have been impacted by the pandemic in a way that depleted their culinary and food resources.
In 2014, the Currency Exchange, located off of Garfield Blvd, used their space to host Peach’s at Currency Exchange Café, a historical collaboration between two Chicago natives, Gates and Chef Cliff Rome. This installment celebrated Black cuisine, history, and culture through innovative dishes and premium meals that would highlight the most important aspect of Chicago, it’s tight-knit community.
“[Felton and I] both had jobs in retail, and coffee became a need to get through the day. Over time, we started to learn more about the importance of the quality of the coffee bean, the brewing process, and then the service,” Amanda Harth told Travel Noire.
Monday Coffee Company’s products are created in Michigan, where their coffee beans are sourced and roasted for the freshest taste of a hot or cold morning brewed beverage.
The company’s current residency from August 10th to December 31st at the Retreat Currency Exchange Café will provide more space for Black-owned businesses and will donate their space to support other Black vendors. Outside the decadent coffee beverages on their menu, the coffee shop sells cold brew concentrate, coffee scrubs, and a self-care package for their customers.
“We are working towards finding a permanent space to continue to scale our business upward, and we do plan on providing our products in more retailers around the city/suburbs of Chicago over the next year,” Harth stated. “Prior to launching MCC we both organized separate events around Chicago that were art focused, so using our product as a vehicle to connect people through coffee education classes, food, or live music continues to be a goal of ours.”
The coffee shop hosts pop-ups around Chicago and that is why their residency program will surely be a significant tool for emerging Black entrepreneurs and coffee lovers who will use the opportunity to network and curate their own signature coffee drinks. Monday Coffee Company’s entire cultural initiative is to erase the whitewashed aspects of the coffee industry and make it more inclusive for all to enjoy the daily morning ritual of served coffee.
“We’re young, gifted, Black and outspoken,” Co-founder, Felton Kizer reiterates. “Folks have been talking about how exclusive and whitewashed the coffee industry is, but by us not being from the coffee community, we’ve been able to reach a different audience– a more engaged audience.”
The beautiful aspect of the Monday Coffee Company is that the café is bridging the gap between the Black and Brown farmers who produce most of the coffee beans for these large corporations and is honoring these farmers through acknowledging that there should be a balanced partnership between these farmers and the corporations.
This collaboration between coffee bean curators and the coffee products that are sold nationally are vital to a successful coffee shop.
“We’re both artists/creatives outside of MCC, and we saw an opportunity to create a coffee company the way we want. We started in the midst of the pandemic with the intention of keeping people connected at a time of uncertainty. I think that says a lot about our intention around community,” Harth explained.
“As a queer Black Muslim person, I hope I’m able to inspire folks to stand firm in their ENTIRE identities. I hope folks see me and all that I’m doing and realize that they don’t have to reduce themselves to one ‘label’ or identity– I want them to understand that they are a full sentence,” Felton Kizer closes with.