A Conversation With Coffee del Mundo’s Jonathan Kinnard

The café owner shares his thoughts on supporting Black businesses, the power of the consumer, and sustaining the revolution by getting to coffee’s roots.

BY EMILY JOY MENESES
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

All photos courtesy of Jonathan Kinnard

Although Coffee del Mundo has only been open to the public for about a year, a wealth of power and passion can instantly be felt within its walls. Located in the heart of South Los Angeles, this Black-Latinx-owned café has sparked interest for being one of few completely dairy-free coffee shops in the city. On a warm July morning, I spoke with the owner, Jonathan Kinnard, to find out how his visionary business came to be.

Jonathan Kinnard, the mind behind Coffee del Mundo.

Born to a Belizean mother and a Black father from Inglewood, Calif., Jonathan grew up in Tennessee and finished grad school in North Carolina. He eventually moved to Southern California, where he would work in the insurance industry for five years. Jonathan then left his day job to pursue what he was most passionate about: coffee. Soon after, he traveled to Turkey to study roasting and was certified by the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe. From there, he traveled to coffee farms around the world, and in El Salvador, he encountered a family that would forever alter his role in the industry.

“In El Salvador, I met a family who told me how difficult it was to get their coffee beans to the U.S.,” he says. “Their beans had been exposed to a disease, and recovering from that loss would take years. These farmers had lost their livelihoods, and many of them were shifting to faster-growing crops, like cocaine. I wanted to help them stay in coffee, so I took it upon myself to export their beans to the U.S.”

Coffee del Mundo prides itself on being completely dairy-free. At this café, oat milk is the way to go.

Jonathan began reaching out to importers to help, but he faced a lot of rejection. During this time, he noticed that very few of the people he’d been trying to work with were people of color. This raised a serious question for him that would shape his vision for Coffee del Mundo: “It was then that I asked myself … this crop that can only be grown in regions of the world where people of color exist, how is it that when we experience it here in the U.S., it’s a white-dominated market?”

From then on, Jonathan would dedicate himself to maintaining close relationships with farmers and curating a menu that stayed away from European-style coffee (made with espresso and milk), in favor of a method truer to coffee’s non-European origins. Jonathan also highlights the fact that Coffee del Mundo is completely dairy-free, pointing out that dairy is not a natural part of most non-European diets, which is why lactose intolerance is most common amongst people of color.

Jonathan also emphasizes the significance of running his business in South L.A. “This community really spoke to me, because it’s reflective of me,” he states. “My mother is from Belize, and my father, who is Black, has roots in Memphis and Inglewood. South L.A. is predominantly Black and Latinx, so I wanted to be here, in a community that I represented.” 

Coffee pods, cold-brew kits, and bags of single-origin coffee beans are among the offerings at Coffee del Mundo.

Jonathan also emphasizes the importance of supporting small businesses, particularly Black-owned businesses, when creating long-term social change—especially in the wake of the most recent Black Lives Matter protests. “I believe that [the recent surge in] this movement is great, but now, we really need to turn this thought process into a lifestyle. Every dollar has energy, and that’s the power you have as an individual. I believe that a great shift is happening … because we’re understanding that power. By manufacturing everything locally, we can replenish our own economies and begin empowering the people around us, instead of that one rich family at the top. And that shift in purchasing power makes this a really crucial time in history … and this is only the beginning.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emily Joy Meneses is a writer, musician, and cat mom based in Los Angeles. You can regularly find her at Echo Park Lake, drinking a cortado and journaling about astrology, art, Animal Crossing, and her dreams. Explore her poetry, short stories, and music on her website.

About baristamagazine 2118 Articles
Barista Magazine is the leading trade magazine in the world for the professional coffee community.