Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Saraye Coffee
Saraye Coffee: The Black Woman-Owned Brand Giving Back To Africa
Meet Sara Gebremedhin, owner and founder of Saraye Coffee. A first generation Ethiopian American raised in Seattle, Sara grew up in the Tigray community. From a young age, she has been educated on Ethiopian history and immersed in the culture.
“My parents did a great job of teaching me about my roots and family history,” she told Travel Noire. “I have always felt like I belonged to something bigger than America, something unique and rare. Saraye Coffee embodies what I have been taught my whole life. It’s not of me or a copy, it’s in me.”
Saraye Coffee officially launched in January, however, the idea and planning began in 2018.
“My partner is an entrepreneur and at the time, was opening a restaurant in Uganda. I was in Los Angeles pursuing my passion of acting and modeling and I was tired of working jobs just to pass time and pay bills. I knew I had more to offer, so I challenged myself.”
“I put all my ideas to the test, and coffee felt like home. It felt like my mother and my grandmother back in Seattle catching up and laughing over coffee. I am a coffee lover at heart and I was making trips to Starbucks at least two to three times a day.”
“No shade to Starbucks, but I remember being there after I decided to start my own company, and as I was waiting in line I noticed they sell Ethiopian coffee and have plenty of wall art representing the farms and culture of Ethiopia.”
“Before I used to think ‘wow, isn’t that cool, my people are getting the recognition they deserve. Then it switched to, I can represent my people and support my land from the heart. I can tell our story.'”
Sara’s love of coffee developed at a young age. In Ethiopian culture, there are traditional coffee ceremonies where one person makes and serves the coffee for guests. According to Sara, it is a whole production and has many elements— the coffee table, the clay Jebena, the cup and plate sets. You even light incense and pop some popcorn.
As a child, Sara helped her mother set up for the coffee ceremony and serve the coffee. She recalls watching her mother host the ceremony daily, for friends, for family, or even just for herself.
“Watching her with her friends and my aunties are some of my favorite memories–their story sharing and laughter. I wanted those same experiences for myself when I got older.”
Saraye Coffe is single origin 100% arabica coffee beans imported directly from Ethiopia. The brand currently offers three flavors: Yirgacheffe, Sidamo, and Limu.
Saraye was founded on four principles: family (tradition/culture), communication (conversations), giving back, and coffee. The company takes its commitment to giving back and building community seriously.
“Growing up in the Tigray community, we always came together to support each other in any way. Although Saraye Coffee just launched, we have already been able to have an impact. We have donated money to the Tigrayian refugees in Sudan, helping around 400 families.”
“We have also partnered with Desalu Naturals and, so far this quarter, we have been able to provide reusable sanitary pads to young women and children in Uganda.”
This year, Saraye aims to send all aid to Africa. Next year, the company plans to build partnerships within the U.S. to help children in the foster care system and underprivileged communities.
Saraye is currently preparing for a virtual event with YelpLA where they will go over the Ethiopian coffee ceremony step by step. In the future, Sara plans on opening coffee shops and bistros that incorporate the principles of Saraye Coffee and provide a meeting place for customers.
“We plan to expand our wholesale partnerships and enter department stores. We want to host annual cultural events and provide scholarships for the youth. We also plan to grow in Africa and continue to share the culture of our country with more flavors of coffee and tea.”
“There is so much more in store for Saraye Coffee! It embodies my family and my culture, and did I mention the coffee is delicious?”