Meet Jessica Taylor, who is the founder of Ezra Coffee. She founded the coffee business in an attempt to make a product that is so rich and flavorful that one can even avoid adding milk. Taylor was at the time working in diversity, equity, and inclusion at Toyota but turned to coffee when her younger sister became lactose intolerant and allergic to soy and nuts. Taylor started roasting beans on her home stove, working on different recipes in order to produce coffee her sister could enjoy without milk.
“Ezra started out as a passion project,” Taylor said to the United States Chamber of Commerce. “I had all these pieces, these nuggets, but nothing cohesively in one space. I pulled in my love for scholarship programming, history, coffee, and of educating people of color, and I wrapped it all into Ezra.”
Nearly two years after starting Ezra Coffee, the brand can now be found at Target, Amazon, and over 40 40 H-E-B stores, one of Texas’ largest grocery chains, as per the United States Chamber of Commerce.
“Less than 1% of Black-owned brands secure retail distribution and to have done this in 18 months is truly a testament to Gods favor,” Taylor said on Instagram.
An interesting aspect of Taylor’s business is her commitment to using one of the world’s most popular beverages to tell the history of black people and the LGBTQ community. The names of some of the brand’s most popular blends pay homage to people who paved the way for her to be in entrepreneurship. For instance, the Lorde Baldwin blend honors the work of Black gay writer James Baldwin. Ghanaian Adinkra symbols from the Asante people in West Africa can also be found on the bags.
“On the back of our bags, we tell amazing stories about Black people that aren’t rooted in adversity and slavery,” Taylor said. “There are so many people who have done great things and made inventions we don’t know about.”
To get her business off the ground, Taylor got support through Target’s accelerator program, Target Forward Founders. She also applied to H-E-B’s Quest for the Best competition and even though she did not win, her product attracted a local buyer.
Coffee is widely consumed, and according to data, the global coffee market is expected to reach $83 billion by 2027.