Ajani and Khea Pollard are a black duo of mother-daughter coffee entrepreneurs.
“Have been Coffee X by all the necessary beans. That’s the full name, ”said co-owner Cynthia Ajani.
Their brand was designed not just for beer but for the community, serving as a cafe, food service and event space with a mission to build community wealth for communities of color in San Diego.
“We were on such an upward trajectory, it was crazy. We’ve had so many wonderful things and the support of the community, ”Ajani said.
Shortly after their December 2019 debut, they had events booked through June. So when the pandemic hit, things slowed down considerably.
“98%,” Ajani explained. “I’m telling you, I got to see tumbleweeds rolling down the street while I was there during the day. I’m not even kidding about it.
And to top it off, the owner of the building where the cafe was located decided to sell, leaving them and the other businesses in the building with no luck.
“And even if we, as one of the companies, were able to produce and maintain our own business, that still wouldn’t cover the whole,” Ajani said.
It was then that the mother-daughter team decided to rethink their approach, moving from coffeehouse entrepreneurs to coffee bean entrepreneurs.
“We built our blend, the house factor blend – ‘Coffee X: X-Factor House Blend’ – through a lot of trial and error,” said Khea Pollard. “Many tastings have been made to this product. “
“I think it’s a flavor profile that’s popular. People will really like to drink [it]”Pollard said.
But without a fixed place to sell their new blend, it wasn’t easy to get things going. But that’s when 2020 really made a difference for them.
“The whole of Black Lives Matter, and it’s with the presidency and the election and all these different things – it just came at a time that I think gave us some extra support, or I should say we. highlighted it a bit more, ”Ajani said. . “And, in that vein, it was a good thing even though it was a tragedy.”
From venues to promotion, support has come from everywhere.
“Not just from the black community, just from all communities, I mean,” Ajani explains.
But with the right, not everything is really easy.
“I think people appreciate that we are black women business leaders and at the same time we have to assert ourselves, our identities, our ideas,” Pollard said.
And that’s why part of Khea and Cynthia’s mission, through coffee, is to propel this momentum of inclusion and equality into the future.
“The events leading up to the focus on ‘Buy Black’ are tragic – the people who die so that we can get attention aren’t exactly what we’re looking for forever, are they? Pollard said. “And we want to make sure he survives this trend. It’s a lasting change that we’re looking for, so as long as our eyes are on black businesses, that’s great.
“It’s not just about getting our name recognized, it’s about making sure we capitalize on it and use it to engage in the future, in all facets of life. . “
The mother-daughter duo say they are grateful for the community’s support and plan to relaunch their brick-and-mortar coffee shop as soon as possible.