Red Bay Coffee is a specialty roasting company based in the Fruitvale district of Oakland, California. Keba Konte launched the company in 2013 after success launching two unique cafes in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Keba co-founded Guerilla Café in Berkeley, CA in 2006 and transformed the café into a community gathering place known for its exciting pop-up events and artist/activist vibe. After his success with Guerilla Café, Keba opened his second venture, Chasing Lions Café, at City College in San Francisco in 2011. Keba has since successfully sold Guerilla Café. Because of his experience owning and operating cafes, he has a deep understanding of the coffee industry as well as existing relationships with cafes and roasters across the country.
With Red Bay Coffee as his newest project, Keba’s aim is to create a brand that connects consumers with both the African culture and the authenticity of the countries where his coffee beans are sourced. This unique take on a coffee shop experience has already attracted co-branding opportunities from partners such as the Museum of the African Diaspora and African American institutions across the West and East Coast. Red Bay currently sells wholesale to high-end cafes, restaurants, and specialty grocery stores such as Whole Foods.
Since its launch in early 2014, Red Bay Coffee has expanded beyond Keba’s garage, also known as ‘The Coffee Dojo.’ He raised over $87,000 for the venture on Kickstarter, which helped to eliminate the initial financial burden that comes with most brick and mortar businesses, allowing him to create a scalable, profit-sharing business model. Now Keba and his team are ready to build out their own location, and we at PCV are excited to be a part of it!
Flipping the Script
Red Bay Coffee is not your traditional, tattooed-barista late 2000’s Mission café. “We hire folks who have high barriers to employment. Whether that’s formerly incarcerated, people of color, or folks with disabilities. And that just comes to us naturally, but what comes to us naturally is different from most other coffee companies,” Keba says, in the SF Weekly.
What’s more radical, according to the East Bay Express, is “the profit-sharing model that Keba will use to pay those workers: In addition to receiving tips and an hourly wage, each Red Bay Coffee Bar employee will get a cut of the business’s profits. In fact, 100 percent of retail sale profits will go back to the workers.
Red Bay Coffee’s business model comes at a crucial time in Oakland’s history when working-class people — and people of color, in particular — are getting priced out of their neighborhoods. Keba hopes his employees will make enough of a livable wage to allow them to stay.”
Collaborative Lending For A Collaborative Café
Keba Konte demonstrated his commitment to job creation by adding over fifty jobs through his three enterprises. Keba has worked with Pacific Community Ventures’ partner Inner City Advisors (ICA) since 2011 and attended several courses and worked with several advisors. PCV will be lending Red Bay Coffee $200,000, in collaboration with Fund Good Jobs, the investment arm of Inner City Advisors.
Keba plans purchase roasting equipment, set up his coffee kiosk at The Hive in Oakland using a repurposed shipping container, purchase new inventory, and expand his marketing.
Visit Red Bay’s new brick-and-mortar location at The Hive.
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