Black-Owned Cafes In South Los Angeles To Check Out In 2020
By Leah Freeman-Haskin
South Los Angeles has seen a surge in black-owned coffee shops over the last 15 months. Some attribute this to the closing of Magic Johnson’s iconic Starbucks in 2018, leaving a void in the community. “Starblacks”, as the locals called it, was located on the corner of La Cienega and Centinela for 20 years and catered to mostly black patrons who spent their time playing rounds of dominoes or high-level chess, working remotely, or discussing the news of the day.
“Starblacks”, which was owned by Magic Johnson, left some big shoes to fill. And these are the coffee shops and cafes that are up for the challenge.
Hot and Cool Café opened its door in 2018. Owner Anthony Jolly has seen great success over the past year, with the café being featured on an episode of Insecure. The community meeting space serves more than just fresh-brewed coffee. You can find art is on display, trap yoga classes are on the schedule, and food pop-ups.
Los Angeles-born owners Ajay Relan and Yonnie Hagos opened Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen to provide a fun environment for people to connect with each other and themselves. The modern and airy space is home to a full-kitchen offering a lunch and breakfast menu and, of course, coffee. Two new locations recently opened, making Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen available in View Park, Inglewood, and Eagle Rock.
Established in 2017, Sip & Sonder is owned by Shanita Nicholas and Amanda-Jane Thomas. Sip & Sonder is the premier destination for creatives, entrepreneurs, freelancers, curators, and everyone in between to simply exist, grab a cup of coffee, connect, create, and put sonder into action located in Downtown Inglewood.
More recently, husband and wife team Joe and Celia Ward-Wallace opened South LA Cafe in November 2019. Their mission is to build community through coffee, culture, and connection. With a menu of healthy options, South LA Café is committed to bringing the same quality food and drinks found in other neighborhoods, but with pricing that is affordable in the South LA community
Oakland’s Red Bay Coffee will open in Jefferson Park next spring. The 11,000-square-foot space is said to channel the former Magic Johnson spot. Red Bay LA will be a cafe and roastery with a stage, performance area, workspace, and communal area all right in the middle of Jefferson Park.