My name is Neichelle Guidry, and I am the creator of Black Girl Black Coffee. I'm a lifelong coffee drinker, with my earliest coffee memories stemming from the kitchen tables in the homes of my grandmothers. I've travelled far and wide in search of great coffee. In fact, my love for coffee was sealed in 2016 when I took my first spiritual pilgrimage to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the festival of Timket. Since that time, coffee has been a part of my daily life.
Black Girl Black Coffee (BCBG) was born out of the uncertainty of the year 2020, specifically the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus was sweeping across the globe, bringing our lives to a screeching halt and ushering in a period of unparalleled anxiety and isolation. Like millions of Americans, I found my life rapidly changing, even as I spent my workdays and weekends in quarantine in my home in Atlanta, Georgia. As a full-time administrator at the renowned Spelman College and a busy public theologian, speaker, and educator, I found myself navigating the loss of my community life, travel, and public work that, for years, had filled my life and time with great joy. All of a sudden, I’d been invited to slow down, be still, and to rethinking my relationship to my work. For what seemed like the first time, I had the time to hone some of the interests and curiosities that had been forced into the “I’ll get to it someday” file of my life. Coffee was chief among these.
This journey started late one night when I was making coffee (Toni by Portrait Coffee) in order to stay up and press through some work. I’d made a cup of this particular coffee earlier in the day on a Bodum wire-filter pourover, so I utilized my French Press to make my evening cup. I took notice of the vast differences between my two cups of coffee. I commenced a long night of watching YouTube tutorials about coffee brewing methods, the history of coffee, and more. Over the following week, I ordered a new Kalita Wave 185 to play with while in quarantine, and my interest was fully captivated. Over the next few weeks, I committed myself to learning this brewing method, before moving on to experiment with another one.
Eventually, I launched an anonymous Instagram page called ‘Black Girl Black Coffee,’ as a way to document and narrate my coffee journey. It provided a space for me to track my coffee experiments, tell my personal coffee stories, creativity, and most importantly, connect to a dynamic coffee community. It gave me a space to have fun, be creative, and not take myself so seriously. Many relationships and opportunities emerged from opening this page, including an invitation to apply for a virtual coffee competition created by GlitterCat Barista.
Upon my admission to the Brewer’s category of competition, I was granted three weeks of a virtual coffee education and introduced to an incredible, dynamic, and diverse community of coffee lovers and professionals. I took an intense, deep dive into this opportunity, attending every workshop, taking ferocious notes, and practicing every tip and trick that I’d received. In the end, I wrote a coffee recipe that consisted of 12 grams of Boon Boona Washed Burundi and 4 grams of Panther Washed Mexico, brewed on an Origami Dripper with 256 grams of water that was heated to 204*F. I created a brewing method that I called the ‘Alice,’ which I named after my paternal grandmother, MoMo. It consisted of a Mason Jar and a knee-high stocking, which she wore most times when she left her house. I recorded a video presentation of the story of my brewing method, and how my paternal grandmother’s coffee and hospitality were among my earliest coffee memories. In my video, I utilized my original brewing method to create a delicious, chocolatey cup of coffee, which I served in a vintage cup and saucer that reminded me of the sets that my grandmother used to serve coffee in.
In the end, I won the competition! I was elated. Around this time, traffic to the Instagram page began to accelerate, and I began to hear from more Black girls and women who wanted to learn more about coffee and make more meaningful coffee connections. I also connected with non-Black people who just loved the page, and wanted to support. This is when I began to imagine was BGBC could be, beyond a personal page that traces my personal journey.
Which brings us to the present.