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BY Abu Mubarik, 7:00pm September 14, 2023,

Black-owned coffee and tea brand BLK and Bold is Iowa’s fastest-growing company

The entrepreneurs behind coffee and tea brand BLK & Bold. Photo Credit: BLK and Bold Speciality Beverages

BLK & Bold is a Black-owned coffee and tea brand emerging as one of the black success stories in the United States and the rest of the world since its founding by childhood friends Rod Johnson and Pernell Cezar in 2018.

The brand was Iowa’s fastest-growing private business between 2019-2022, growing 7,404%, as per Inc. 5000’s 2023 list. The Inc. 5000 list evaluates companies based on their revenue growth over a three-year period. The growth of the company matters because people do not usually associate successful Black-owned businesses with Iowa, a state where nearly 90 percent of the population is white, BLK & Bold co-founder Johnson told Axios.

Johnson attributed the growth of the company to the efforts he and his team made in expanding the company’s retail presence, including manufacturing and distribution. The brand, which started as an online business, now has products in 8,000+ retail stores, including Target, Walgreens, Albertsons, Safeway and Hy-Vee.

Due to the remarkable growth of the brand, the founders have dedicated 5% of its gross profits to nonprofits helping at-risk youth around the U.S.

The founders quit their jobs in higher education, fundraising and retail merchandising to establish the coffee and tea brand from their headquarters in Des Moines. Cezar started his career at Target Corp. in Minneapolis in August of 2010. He has a background in retail merchandising. He later became fascinated with the art of influencing and building brands for startups or multinational brands.  

Johnson on the other hand has been a professional fundraiser for academic and health care institutions nationwide. He has helped raise millions of dollars for academic scholarships and healthcare research.

According to Cezar, he was inspired to venture into the coffee business because of the impact it has had on his adult career.

“After learning of what better coffee could be as a consumer, I became continuously curious about the product I was spending so much money consuming and didn’t really know much about,” he told Fortune. “That curiosity created more love for the product but also personal disconnect with the lack of representation and non-community-focused values reflected within the industry.”

Blk & Bold recently partnered with the NBA to roll out “The Warm-Up,” a medium roast coffee with caramel flavors featuring two packaging experiences, the Eastern and Western Conferences, according to Because of them we can.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: September 14, 2023


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