Cafés Owned and Run by Women of Color: Part Two

We continue our spotlight on several cafés operated by female minorities in the United States.


Cover photo courtesy of Boogie Down Grind Café

Last week we began a feature spotlighting a few different cafés throughout the United States that are operated by women of color. We love to see more businesses by female minorities open these days, and today we continue this feature to look at more such spots, and what innovative things they’re offering consumers and their neighborhoods.

Majora Carter grew up in the Bronx and watched hip-hop come alive, which inspired her café The Boogie Down Grind. Photo by Daniel Kwak.

The Boogie Down Grind – The Bronx, New York City

In the South Bronx, real estate developer, urban revitalization strategy consultant, MacArthur Fellow, and Peabody Award-winning broadcaster Majora Carter is revitalizing her community with the borough’s first-ever hip-hop coffee shop in Hunts Point, opened in 2016.  Long-time neighbors Sulma and Maurice Brown have also invested in the Boogie Down Grind Café because it “provides the type of experience we used to have to leave the Bronx to experience.”

Because hip-hop originated in this borough, the café has a lot to live up to, but thankfully Majora watched the movement here firsthand. The Boogie Down Grind has incorporated plenty of the genre’s elements, from posters of original jams to menu items like the “Grand Master” frappe and the Big Punini. They also host plenty of events, much of which are music-related. Majora recently collaborated with Bronx Native to spotlight other Bronx-born and -identified women in business through a campaign called “La Bronx.” A portion of the sales go to the Angelita Fund supporting female entrepreneurs. The Boogie Down Grind is 100% dedicated when it comes to reinvesting in the community where their team grew up.

Mo Maravilla’s Kindness & Mischief serves sweet beverages and plenty of good vibes to Highland Park, Los Angeles. Photo by Kindness & Mischief.

Kindness & Mischief Coffee – Los Angeles

Filipino-American and L.A. native Mo Maravilla opened Kindness & Mischief Coffee in Los Angeles’ bustling Highland Park neighborhood in 2016. Despite its name, the café may include everything but mischief—a whole lot of kindness and hard work goes into supporting other women-owned businesses in the area. Every weekend, Kindness & Mischief is hosting a pop-up shop or event featuring WOC, POC, and LGBT+ groups. “I try to bring attention to the inequalities and injustices being faced by fellow WOC and POC in my community and industry by increasing visibility and hosting events that empower them,” says Mo.

The staff also reflects the diversity of Los Angeles; “My entire team are POC and/or LGBTQ+,” she says. “I try my hardest to make sure that anyone who works for me in one capacity or another feels seen, appreciated, and valued, since I’ve been brushed off too many a time by people who undervalued me, my work, and my opinions just because of my gender and skin color.” Mo pays tribute to her Filipina roots by serving pastries from Crème Caramel LA, a bakery that uses ingredients like pandan and ube in their freshly baked scones and coffee cakes. Kindness & Mischief also offers a pay-it-forward option on the menu, which honors a friend in need of a complimentary pick-me-up on a rough day.

Either/Or’s second location operates as a stylish cocktail bar in the evening. Photo by @peevedeve.

Either/Or – Portland

Either/Or in Portland has two locations, both operated by first-generation Taiwanese-American Ro Tam. The name comes from an Elliot Smith album, and the queer-friendly café creates a truly artisanal coffee experience for the residents of Portland. “We wanted to create a space for our community, and felt like we had more of a platform to do so with the different type of events and fundraisers we have catering towards queer and POC folks,” explains Ro.

Although the calendar shuffles through an eclectic mix of music and comedy, a couple of the consistent events include weekly Sunday queer karaoke nights, along with queer country music every month. The menu incorporates espresso flights and seasonal sodas with fresh ingredients, plus there’s a food menu that reflects Tam’s upbringing in the home of a family with a Chinese restaurant—you’ll find wonton soup and Yang Chun Mian (Chinese breakfast noodle soup) alongside a killer California breakfast burrito and tacos. For those who dig spicy beverages, Ro’s own bottled Tanglewood Chai is available at the café and to-go, and it’s quickly becoming a Portland staple in other cafés and grocery stores.

About Katrina Yentch 221 Articles
Katrina Yentch (she/her) is a freelance writer and Barista Magazine's Online Editor. When she's not writing, you can find her napping, cooking, and drinking whatever's on drip.