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BLK & Bold Startup Owners Combine Coffee with Community Impact

BLK n Bold Headshot

November 19, 2020


Pernell Cezar Jr. is co-founder and CEO of BLK & Bold Specialty Beverages, known for coffee and tea manufacturing that pledges 5% of its profits to programs for youth to develop professionally and fight youth homelessness. The company works with 14 youth pledge partners across the country in its effort to prioritize purpose.

BLK & Bold Specialty Beverages is the first black-owned, nationally distributed coffee brand, and it’s headquartered in Greater Des Moines (DSM). The BLK & Bold story has been featured in Fortune, GQ, People, ChowHound, Afrotechand more, while the company became a best-selling coffee brand for Amazon and continues to highlight social issues for at-risk youth as it grows. 

Finding a Passion for Emerging Brands

Cezar Jr.’s background in retail merchandising and packaged goods led him to work for Target, where he was responsible for soap inventory before moving into partnerships and negotiations. He realized his passion was helping emerging brands get their foot in the door and worked with Sundial brands’ SheaMoisture to help bring their products to the masses. 

BLK & Bold History

Cezar Jr. started BLK & Bold Specialty Beverages with his childhood best friend, Rod Johnson. The two lived on the same street growing up and joke that they have an executive team that’s been working together for over 20 years. After growing professionally, they kept up conversations about making an impact while being successful in their careers. Those conversations led to questions like: 

·      How are we spending our money? 

·      How can we support youth in need?

·      What industry are we passionate about?

·      How can we create accessibility high-end top-tier coffee and allow customers to have an impact on their community without changing everyday habits?


Roasting + Packaging in DSM

Today, Cezar Jr. and Johnson have a 10,000-square-foot facility in south Des Moines that serves as corporate headquarters for BLK & Bold Specialty Beverages. There is no retail space. They passed on the coffee shop model to instead put dollars into the retailer/e-commerce market. The facility does a significant volume of roasting and packaging at the facility. The intention is to impact the job market, but also help build an industry pipeline for those interested in the coffee industry. 

Making Purpose Popular

The coffee duo strives to change a daily ritual into a means of giving back. By giving 5% of their profits to initiatives that support youth causes, they can help others be influenced by the work they are doing. Cezar Jr. shares with Colwell how BLK & Bold Specialty Beverages came to be sold in Target, Hy-Vee and Whole Foods, as well as what’s next for the company later in the podcast.

Listen to the entire podcast here

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Startup Stories DSM

Startup Stories DSM is a podcast featuring conversations with entrepreneurs who share both their victories and failures on their paths to success. It is produced by the Greater Des Moines Partnership.