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Some Like It Black: Cxffeeblack Celebrates Coffee and Black Culture in Memphis
Some Like It Black: Cxffeeblack Celebrates Coffee and Black Culture in Memphis

Some Like It Black: Cxffeeblack Celebrates Coffee and Black Culture in Memphis

Years ago, Memphis was coffee-challenged, to say the least. After reading liner notes off my favorite Style Council album attributed to The Cappuccino Kid, I wanted to try a cappuccino, only to find that you could not get one in Memphis. I recall when Java Cabana first opened, and it was literally the only coffee house in Memphis at that time. Memphis has progressed from a city where coffee options were few and far between to a city with a bewildering array of coffee options. There are coffee bars with skateboard ramps, coffee bars attached to clothing stores, and coffee bars that also sell beer. But, as the name suggests, the Cxffeeblack Anti-Gentrification Coffee Club is something altogether different.

Cxffeeblack, who is also a performance artist, first garnered attention locally when he partnered with Ethnos Coffee Roasters to release an Ethiopian coffee roast with the clever name Guji Manne, a play on the name of the Ethiopian region where the beans came from and a popular rapper. From that partnership, he has gone on to create his own coffee bar in Memphis’ Highland Heights neighborhood. Coffee originated in Africa, but that fact is probably lost on many who enjoy it, especially in the white community. The first mention of what we know to be coffee was written by an Ethiopian shepherd named Kaldi, who complained in a poem that his sheep would not fall asleep because they had eaten a certain berry. Coffee was traded from East Africa to Yemen, where the port city of Mocha gave its name to bean varieties with a pronounced chocolatey flavor. The Cxffeblack Anti-Gentrifcation Club celebrates this African root of coffee, and is in fact a celebration of art and Blackness as well.

Brightly colored murals create a welcoming environment even before one enters the space, and the coffee bar has a friendly and welcoming vibe. It seems part coffee house, part neighborhood hub, and part community center. There are some obvious differences between this and other coffee houses, the most notable of which is that Cxfeeblack Club does not have dairy milk, due to the prevalence of lactose intolerance. I was skeptical of oat milk, but my latte was quite enjoyable anyway. There are bags of roasted beans to take home as well, and for those who do not live close to Memphis, the Cxfeeblack Club features subscriptions or orders by mail from its website, so its coffee can be purchased anywhere in the world. The club is also in the process of expanding into larger quarters, so it is definitely worth a visit for Memphians who may not have realized it is there. The ethos of the place is summed up in one of its painted slogans: “May Your Hood Lack No Coffee Nor Peace.”

Cxffeeblack Anti-Gentrification Coffee Club

761 National Street

Memphis, TN 38122

(901) 713-6555

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