We had the good fortune of connecting with Anthony Jolly and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anthony, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I’m from Washington D.C. and my upbringing formed the foundation of my goals in my personal and professional lives. I was raised by my mother and grandmother in the heart of Washington D.C. and they worked extremely hard and sacrificed a lot to bring me up. My friends became my family but as time went one so many of them were victims to the attack on black men with the drug epidemic and the penal code/laws. It’s crazy because looking around now there are so few black men in their 40s and it’s because so many were in jail, often for minor things, and many grew up without stable fathers for similar reasons. I knew I wanted to have stability and generous love in my family life. I met my wife and we had three kids, and I cherish everything about my family life. Professionally I wanted to start my own business in an area relatively untouched by black men: a certified coffee professional and roaster. Owning my own business in Leimert Park is a way to show the young black people in my own community that it is possible to branch into something unknown and to success. I wanted to be an example in both entrepreneurship and trade, and Hot & Cool employs opportunity youth. We also are working on a barista training program for the youth. The community spirit present at Hot and Cool Cafe and in Leimert Park is so important for our community to thrive and prosper, and to give our young people something positive to aspire to in a world that doesn’t generally paint the black community in a positive light.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am the founder of Hot and Cool Cafe and Crenshaw Coffee Company in Leimert Park. I began my career at Starbucks in the 90s where I fell in love with all things coffee. In 2012, I began my green coffee career with Ninety Plus Coffee, a global green specialty coffee distribution powerhouse. At Ninety Plus, I learned how to analyze coffee at the specialty level. After a year of on the job training, Ninety Plus Coffee sent me to Ethiopia to foster relationships with coffee producers and cooperatives. I lived in Ethiopia for a year searching for the best coffee Ethiopia had to offer, and creating personal relationships with several private coffee farm owners. I worked with local farmers and agronomists to enhance the quality of green coffee beans to specialty standards to attract premium wholesale process and increase coffee yields. I also learned about every aspect of the coffee bean business, from planting, to growing, to harvesting, to drying, to exporting, to selling green coffee, to roasting. In 2012, I imported his first 8 containers of specialty grade coffee, which were distributed globally to over 10 different countries. I taught myself to roast coffee in my backyard shed.
In 2013, I parted ways with Ninety Plus to work independently, becoming one of the first black men in the independent coffee importing business. I remained in Ethiopia for months, expanding his relationships with coffee growers throughout the country and perfecting the art of coffee harvesting and drying. My latest project was co-producing Karkarsa Coffee from the Anfillo region, which comes from a woman-owned farm with 100 year-old coffee trees on 50 hectares of land. I was the first to import and distribute Karkarsa into the United States.
We opened Hot + Cool Cafe, a Los Angeles County certified social enterprise, in 2018. It is a local Black-owned and family-operated coffee shop in the heart of Leimert Park Village. The Cafe is committed to making sure all their neighbors have access to healthy food, regardless of circumstance. We intentionally chose Leimert Park as the location for their vegan cafe in what has historically been a food desert for convenient, healthy food choices in South Central. Hot + Cool Cafe prides itself on prioritizing the South Central community of artists, families, and neighbors by offering delicious vegan eats and Ethiopian coffee with a vibrant gallery-like feel. We partner with LA Community Fridges to ensure that healthy food options are available 24/7 for the community.
Hot + Cool Cafe is an unapologetically Black-centered, cultural, and creative gathering place for building community across generations. It is known as a community gathering space that elevates local Black artists and musicians through live events in the alley. The Cafe has used its space to support social justice issues and workforce development. Recently, we served as an official voting site during the 2020 Presidential election. We continue to partner with local businesses and organizations to uplift the South Central community. A second Cafe location opened in Woodland Hills, in December 2020, serving the Warner Center community.
Everything in my career has been done with a huge learning curve. I have failed endlessly and, sometimes, relentlessly. And that is the only way I could get here because the lessons learned along the way were my education and formed most things about Hot & Cool, Crenshaw Coffee Co., and the brand.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Man, I wish I could help here but I am rarely doing anything other than working my businesses and spending time with my family.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My wife and business partner, Tina, who works tirelessly on our businesses, steadfastly supports me in all my personal and professional journeys, and holds it down in so many areas while I am out grinding.
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