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BY Abu Mubarik, 10:08am February 15, 2023,

He started his coffee business from a barbering shop; he is now the first black to own a coffee shop in Kenosha

DeShaun Foster and BLAK Coffee. Photo credit: Kenosha

Drinking coffee has always been a tradition in Deshaun Foster’s family, according to him, mornings at his paternal grandparents’ house always smelled like coffee.

“My grandmother on my dad’s side actually was the person who introduced me to coffee in third or fourth grade, not knowing that I really shouldn’t be drinking coffee. She used to sneak me coffee,” Foster told Kenosha news.

Many years down the lane, Foster is turning his family tradition into a business venture. The idea for the business came to him during the pandemic when he became a heavy coffee drinker. The elementary school teacher found himself drinking extra cups of coffee every day.

He recalled running into a coffee shop with his daughter Jonessa, who suggested he should consider opening a coffee shop, TMJ4 reported. He later bought into the idea and pitched it to Regimen Barber Collective owner and local community leader, Owens.

Owens is credited with supporting black businesses like Foster’s through a community support network. “Coming from the ‘urban community,’ you don’t know if there’s a network to support you,” Owens said. “What we’ve done these past years is build a network.”

Foster started Blak Coffee as a pop-up in Owen’s barbershop and spent 2022 attending events and building connections. His hard work eventually paid off, and what started as a pop-up is now a brick-and-mortar location.

“I’m very proud of him. He started here in my barbershop,” Owens said. “I first met him for my college tours. Now he’s a grown man opening up a business. I’m just overwhelmingly proud of him.”

The coffee shop is located in downtown Kenosha, serving up brews Tuesday through Saturday. His shop is also the first Black-owned coffee shop in Kenosha. Most importantly, Foster launched his shop during Black History Month.

“To be honest, it was very intentional. I did that because this is the first Black coffee shop in Kenosha’s history,” he said.

Opening a brick-and-mortar location did not come easy for him. He discussed his challenges as a black business owner with Kenosha representative, Rep. Tod Ohnstad, who advised him to consider a brick-and-mortar shop.

He subsequently connected Foster with Creative Space Executive Director, Francisco Loyola, and convinced her [Loyola] to offer Foster a location. He also assisted him to get a state grant through the Main Street Program.

“One nice thing about this job is sometimes, you get to do something good for somebody,” Ohnstad told Kenosha news. “I think it’ll be a great success, and I’m looking forward to that cup of coffee.”

His coffee shop offers more than the name suggests, he has created what he calls the “Legends Lounge,” which showcases his inspiration – including Owens and his grandparents.

According to TMJ4, the menu at Blak Coffee has drinks named after Foster’s family members, including his grandmothers, uncles, and daughter. He adds that he hopes the menu inspires his daughter to work hard towards her goals.

“I just want to show her what hard work means and what hard work can get you as well. A lot of these things weren’t given to me, I and my team had to work really hard for this,” Foster said.

For other entrepreneurs who want to be like him, Foster says they should explore any idea they have and never give up on their dreams.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 16, 2023


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