News of a Black-owned coffee shop laying roots in Ybor City in 2021 is creating buzz on social media. Credit that to Tampa native, Cortney Alleyne, who is making moves to found Rise Koffee + Kulture where she'll serve espresso with a side of social change.
Alleyne has been busy scheduling photoshoots, fleshing out the business plan, and drumming up interest to bring her vision to life. The 25-year-old connected with Creative Loafing Tampa Bay to share the story of how Rise Koffee + Kulture came about. Alleyne takes us back two years to when she was a graduate student in Chicago, full of energy and optimism, and ready to tap into her potential.
“Little did I know, instead of chasing my dreams right away, I found myself questioning my purpose in life. I was lost, completely,” Alleyne shared in an email. “I knew I wanted to help people, my community, and do something I enjoyed. I wanted to wake up every day and do something I truly loved, not just endured for a paycheck.”
Keeping those thoughts tucked away in the back of her mind, Alleyne found herself making her way to coffee shops throughout the Windy City every Saturday to study. While the grad student felt her most productive holed up in a cafe with her headphones in and a latte in hand, she always innately felt that something was missing. It wasn’t long until she moved to Bronzeville—a neighborhood located on the south-side of Chicago—where she frequented Black-owned coffee shop, Sip & Savor. It was there that she would have an experience that changed her life forever.
“I walked in and was immediately surrounded by what felt like warmth,” Alleyne explained, adding that it was like walking into a third home. “There were mainly people that looked like me. I had never seen a coffee shop like this in my life.”
Alleyne says she ordered a strawberry hibiscus tea, found a seat, and began studying like she had done every Saturday before. But this time, something clicked.
“Next thing I know, “Double Up” by Nipsey Hussle starts to play in the background. So, after sitting for a few minutes God told me to take out my notepad and write,” Alleyne recalled.
Putting pen to paper, ideas started flowing, and the entrepreneur says that she realized what the next chapter of her life was destined to hold. Founding a coffee shop in Tampa, unlike any the city has seen before—one that embodies Black culture, community, and coffee. This session gave birth to Rise Koffee + Kulture, with the mission “to connect the Tampa community by brewing koffee with kulture.” A welcoming haven for people of all backgrounds to come together, to socialize, to work, and to bring cultural diversity to Florida’s coffee scene.
“Rise Koffee + Kulture is much more than a coffee shop. It is a Black-owned innovative and creative hub where coffee, community, art, and music connect,” Alleyne wrote.
Meaning you’ll be buzzing from the coffee as well as conversation with fellow creators. Another important fold in Rise’s business plan is being devoted to cultivating sustainable social change by contributing to initiatives that help further elevate the Black community.
For instance, access to opportunities for Black youth and young adults to acquire new skills like financial literacy and entrepreneurship. Taking its commitment to giving back to the community and likeminded professionals, Rise’s focus on supplier diversity ensures that at least 25% of suppliers and vendor companies are Black-owned, to further circulate the Black dollar.
“We turn a daily ritual of a cup of coffee into an enriching cultural experience that contributes to community growth and development,” Alleyne explained.
In the coming weeks, Alleyne plans on launching a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund and bring her vision to life. If you don’t have the bread to donate, you can spread the news through social media, allowing Rise to gain traction and cultivate a supportive community before doors open.
In the meantime, you can support other Black-owned coffee-centric businesses like New Tampa's Coffee Speaks N Tea Talks, plus Hogg Batch Coffee roasters and Brea's Coffee mobile coffee cart in St. Petersburg.
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