Noire Pack is a Seattle-based startup quickly expanding its selection of coffees roasted by Black-owned businesses.
BY KATRINA YENTCH
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
The last several-plus years in history have shown us that it is more important than ever to continue supporting businesses run by those in communities of color; that statement holds equal importance with coffee businesses. For folks looking to continue these efforts through the gifting season, Noire Pack may be the place to do that.
What Is Noire Pack?
Launched earlier this year during Black History Month, Noire Pack is an e-commerce business dedicated to selling coffee beans roasted exclusively by Black-owned businesses. Inspired by subscriptions like Trade and MistoBox, the website is a marketplace where users can buy four-ounce packs of Black-owned coffee or singular 12-ounce bags. However, there is no actual subscription model involved. Rather, it is a space where users can customize their “Noire Packs“ based on preferences like roast profile, region, and blend-vs.-single origin.
Where It All Began
Seattle-based founder Edward McFields admits that growing up, he was a lover of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, despite working as a Starbucks barista at the time. However, one thing he noticed across both businesses was a lack of Black representation from both the retail and operations side. “When I lived in L.A., there was a lot of great coffee out there. … (But) how come the coffee is coming in here (produced) by a Black face, a Brown face, but there’s no actual representation in the United States?“
Edward continued this interest in coffee past his time at Starbucks, spending his free time traveling across origin countries. “Over the years I traveled and visited different coffee farms and Nicaragua, getting to know the business and how things worked. That’s where everything starts,” he recalls.
Flash forward several years later to Edward’s time at the University of Washington, pursuing a master’s degree in digital media. Like many of us, Edward happily fell into a deep hole while learning more and more about coffee on the internet during this time. Again, he recognized the lack of Black representation on digital spaces for coffee, which eventually led to the formation of Noire Pack—an online space to showcase Black coffee.
A Personal Connection with Every Roaster
The name Noire Pack stems from “noir,“ the French word for the color black, and in Edward’s words, the “e“ in this stands for experience; hence, the Black Experience Pack. Edward currently works with six roasters for the marketplace. He has a personal connection with every roaster he onboards, occasionally traveling directly to the inquiring roaster to meet. “I really want to give everyone a chance, because when they get the exposure from us, they’re gonna reach higher heights,“ he explains. “As long as you’re in it for the long haul, that tells me everything.“
Edward speaks fondly about two of the first roasters who joined Noire Pack, Boon Boona and Campfire Coffee, whom he collaborates and spends time with thanks to their shared Seattle home base. However, more and more Black roasters are getting involved. “Little by little we are expanding, I’m seeing more companies say hey I like what you’re doing. Let me get on board,“ Edward shares.
Coffee Creates Jobs
A strong motivation for creating Noire Pack was for coffee’s ability to create jobs for Black people. Edward recently discovered that the coffee industry alone generates more money than all of the United States’ professional sports combined. “Coffee in the U.S generates nearly 81,16 billion dollars and is expected to grow annually by 6.02% (CAGR 2021-2025),“ he reports in a blog feature. “Even though the U.S. sports industry is anticipated to rise to 83.1 billion by 2023, it is unlikely it will reach coffee revenues“ … “there are 37,274 branded coffee shops and coffee-oriented restaurants in the U.S.“
Coffee as the Next Barbershop
Edward continues: “If you go to any Black neighborhood it’s being gentrified. I feel like coffee could be the next barber shop for Black people. It could create jobs and community.“
Edward loves what he is doing, and is excited to continue gathering all of the brands he can for Noire Pack. “Helping spread the stories about these very great roasters, each one has such a unique story to tell, and that’s what I wanna do. That’s what I like.“