Deshaun Foster says that drinking coffee has always been a family tradition, and that mornings at his paternal grandparents’ house always smelled like coffee.
“My grandmother on my dad’s side actually was the person who introduced me to coffee in third or fourth grade, not knowing that I really shouldn’t be drinking coffee. She used to sneak me coffee,” Foster told Kenosha news.
Foster is turning his family tradition into a business many years later. During the pandemic, he became a heavy coffee drinker, which inspired him to start the business. Every day, the elementary school teacher found himself drinking an extra cup of coffee.
He recalled walking into a coffee shop with his daughter Jonessa, who suggested he open a coffee shop, according to TMJ4. He later bought into the idea and pitched it to Regimen Barber Collective owner and local community leader, Owens.
Owens is credited with supporting black businesses like Foster’s through a community support network. “Coming from the ‘urban community,’ you don’t know if there’s a network to support you,” Owens said. “What we’ve done these past years is build a network.”
Foster started Blak Coffee as a pop-up in Owen’s barbershop and spent 2022 attending events and building connections. His hard work eventually paid off, and what started as a pop-up is now a brick-and-mortar location.
“I’m very proud of him. He started here in my barbershop,” Owens said. “I first met him for my college tours. Now he’s a grown man opening up a business. I’m just overwhelmingly proud of him.”
The coffee shop is located in downtown Kenosha, serving up brews Tuesday through Saturday. His shop is also the first Black-owned coffee shop in Kenosha. Most importantly, Foster launched his shop during Black History Month.
“To be honest, it was very intentional. I did that because this is the first Black coffee shop in Kenosha’s history,” he said.
It was not easy for him to open a physical location. He discussed his challenges as a black business owner with Rep. Tod Ohnstad of Kenosha, who advised him to consider opening a physical store.
He then introduced Foster to Creative Space Executive Director Francisco Loyola and persuaded her [Loyola] to offer Foster a space. In addition, he assisted him in obtaining a state grant through the Main Street Program.
“One nice thing about this job is sometimes, you get to do something good for somebody,” Ohnstad told Kenosha news. “I think it’ll be a great success, and I’m looking forward to that cup of coffee.”
His coffee shop offers more than the name suggests, he has created what he calls the “Legends Lounge,” which showcases his inspiration – including Owens and his grandparents.
According to TMJ4, the menu at Blak Coffee has drinks named after Foster’s family members, including his grandmothers, uncles, and daughter. He adds that he hopes the menu inspires his daughter to work hard towards her goals.
“I just want to show her what hard work means and what hard work can get you as well. A lot of these things weren’t given to me, I and my team had to work really hard for this,” Foster said.
For other entrepreneurs who want to be like him, Foster says they should explore any idea they have and never give up on their dreams.