Alum Keba Konte's Red Bay Coffee Fuels a Commitment to Diversity

Thursday, May 10, 2018
Photo of Keba Konte holding a coffee cup

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS -- When two African American men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks last month while they waited for a meeting, the incident sparked widespread outrage, an apology from the chain, calls for a boycott and a national conversation about racial bias.

Among the alternatives? A growing Oakland-based roastery and cafe, Red Bay Coffee, whose African American founder and CEO, Keba Konte, says he prioritizes diversity in hiring. The company got more exposure after the Starbucks incident when actor Wendell Pierce promoted Red Bay and praised its commitment to the community, prompting tweets from people across the country asking Red Bay to come to their cities.

“I grew up in San Francisco, which is a town that prides itself on being inclusive and open-minded. I was a student at San Francisco State University, which has a rich history of radical thought and political activism,” Konte says. “This environment really shaped my thinking about how to be in the world. So, when I started purchasing for the business, I’ve been keenly aware of the political ramifications of how I spend my money. And we’ve tried to bring more diversity and inclusion into this industry.”