A lot of us start our morning off with coffee. It’s the fuel that you look forward to in the morning, in the airport, before you pick the kids up, that 3p.m. solace and excuse for a break to get you to the last few hours of the day. It’s also the ritual of it all; popping your K cup in or simply letting your coffee brew in the machine while you dwell in the aroma. The routine, brings a similar satisfaction to making the bed; and the sip of silk that leaves you ready to tackle the day has to be met with quality, too.
It’s been five years since BLK & Bold has been dedicated to making those sips more accessible, sustainably sourced, and last but certainly not least, impactful to the community.
Depending on your perspective, five years is smack in the middle between a long time and just getting started. For BLK & Bold, it’s the latter. In that time there have been numerous partnerships, growth from a two car garage to a 33,000 square foot warehouse, and moments of awe, or maybe just a pause, in between.
In the warehouse, based in Iowa, that yes, could probably hold a small amusement park, now holds over 25 employees and Mills City Roasters with an assigned Roaster (or mad scientist) making sure every bean is roasted to perfection. Aside from the sounds of millions of beans roasting, and boxes of specialty coffee, are two Co Founders who find a breath in three minute check ins to each other's offices and time they can take with their family; Pernell Cezar and Rod Johnson.
If it’s good weather in Des Moines, IA, which honestly, is a 50/50 shot, you’ll find Cezar outside, taking his meetings. Walking from the warehouse, to sometimes, an accidental mile or two away. If he’s not outside on a meeting he’s inside problem solving, giving all the bandwidth that he can to partners interested in opportunities, anyone in the warehouse that needs logistical assistance, and chances are, he’s running on about two nitro caramel cold brews (his own supply of course). His efforts are appreciated and contagious. It’s the 15 min increments of dedication, to pretty much anything he can solve in and outside of the warehouse that warrant success and appreciation from the workspace he’s created over the last five years and especially from the support at home.
His wife, of ten years, has seen Cezar, who she affectionately calls “PJ” work hard to learn about the importance of quality and coffee in the retail while formatting BLK & Bold to bring more conscious consumerism to the forefront. Jessica Cezar said, “I wish people had the opportunity to get even the slightest glimpse of how hard PJ works to make this company a success. The time, the dedication, the sacrifices, the sleepless nights and the literal blood, the sweat and tears it takes to run your own company is remarkable to witness… I’m so proud of him and everything he’s done thus far and everything he will do in the future as well, the sky is truly the limit for him.”
If the sky is limit then the clouds have certainly been filled with opportunities; NBA partnerships, a Marvel Studios; Wakanda Forever collaboration, B Corp certification and partnerships, accolades that include the Top 50 Fastest Growing MBE’s, Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence from Sprudge, an Albertsons banner expansion that include over 8,000 stores, and recognized as the first Black owned coffee company to partner with Keurig, with more on the horizon. What will remain a priority is how BLK & Bold not only delivers a great product, but one that connects consumers back to the community.
“It’s been five years of shifting mindsets and making sure we’re prioritizing conscious consumerism… we want people to think of community impact when they drink our coffee we want consumers to know our care goes beyond quality," said Cezar.
Whether people think of community with each cup or not, the impact from BLK & Bold continues to pour across the US, with five percent of all proceeds from BLK & Bold going towards Pledge Partnerships; 14 organizations dedicated to providing resources to youth in need.
Community impact is an important part of Co Founder and Chief Values Officer, Rod Johnson’s role and what he wants to ensure as the BLK & Bold legacy. From making sure to establish continued relationships with Pledge Partners to creating initiatives, support systems and values to carry to the next generation, this is where his passion lies. It's an evolution and goal for him that's been cemented in the last two years as he's transitioned from CMO to CVO.
“I think coffee is great, but the core of our values come from what we were exposed to growing up, the impact we want to leave in this world has to impact generations… I want to change communities by providing what I didn’t have access to, and that means providing resources to communities that face disparity...While I can’t be in all these places across the US I’m glad to be able to build a network that can be an extension to giving, this is why we built BLK & Bold in the first place and I can’t wait to see all we do in the next few years,” said Johnson.
Johnson’s wife, Shell, proclaimed her pride for the company, her husband and the partnership between Cezar and Johnson that she’s watched over the past five years. “Time is flying! So much has happened in the last five years, many highs, lows and sacrifices, Jarrhod and PJ have accomplished so much in this short amount of time... and all the people they’ve inspired along the way… My face lights up when anyone tells me how much they love BLK and Bold and how they spread the word to others, it makes my heart happy!," said Johnson.
Cheers to five years for BLK & Bold and a hopeful 100 years more.