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Dallas Entrepreneur Began Roasting Coffee in Her Kitchen and Brewed Up a National Business
This entrepreneur’s coffee business went from her kitchen table to filling mugs across the country. Here’s how JPMorgan Chase helped.
Jessica Taylor’s love for coffee started when she was nine years old, courtesy of her grandfather. Later in life, she started roasting and flavoring coffee in a cast-iron skillet at home for her sister, who has food allergies and is lactose-intolerant.
Over one of her freshly brewed cups, Taylor’s friend suggested she get into business; shortly thereafter, Ezra Coffee was born in Dallas, Texas. Founded in February 2021, the premium coffee brand is committed to delivering community, empowerment and blends designed to be consumed without any milk-based additives.
“I said to myself, if it pops, then so be it. If it doesn’t, no harm, no foul. At least I can say I tried,” Taylor recalls.
To launch her new business, the former educator set aside a fixed amount of money and took advantage of free or discounted services that were made available for small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. After a year, Taylor–who partners with a local small business in Texas to roast and distribute Ezra Coffee–needed additional capital to continue growing, so she applied to a program called BREAKTHROUGH, which is run by the nonprofit digitalundivided and is part of the JPMorgan Chase Advancing Black Pathways (ABP) initiative. The accelerated business program is designed to support women of color entrepreneurs with revenue-generating businesses and propel their ventures beyond the five-figure revenue mark.
During the spring of 2022, Taylor was selected to receive a $5,000 philanthropic investment and participate in BREAKTHROUGH with 14 other Black, Hispanic and Latino small business owners in the region.
According to proprietary research conducted by digitalundivided in 2020, Latina and Black women founders received just $1.7 billion of the total $276.7 billion spent by venture capital firms between 2018 and 2019. BREAKTHROUGH addresses this fundamental resource gap by making educational resources, advocacy, coaching and small capital infusions available.
“Breakthrough helps entrepreneurs break through the startup phase, moving from five figures to the six-figure range,” said Kanayo Oweazim, a vice president at JPMorgan Chase leading business growth and entrepreneurship for ABP. “Research shows that a lot of small businesses can really benefit from a $5,000 grant, which could help cover marketing costs, interns, inventory or cash flow gaps.”
The BREAKTHROUGH graduation ceremony was held at the JPMorgan Chase Oak Cliff Community Center Branch, which was established as part of the bank’s nationwide $30 billion commitment to close the racial wealth gap and provide resources to expand homeownership opportunities and help small businesses scale. Here, Terri Thomas, the branch community manager, connected Taylor with her business mentor.
“We believe in her business,” said Thomas. “She’s celebrating and uplifting Black culture. She’s doing really great things.”
The Ezra Coffee brand clearly underscores its commitment to community and empowerment. The name of each blend recognizes the stories of significant individuals or moments within our collective American history. These stories are printed on Ezra Coffee’s packaging, which is also adorned with Ghanaian Adinkra symbols from the Asante people of West Africa.
In just two years, Taylor has coordinated a national distribution deal online through a major retailer and a local distribution deal with more than 30 grocery stores in Texas. Her business mentor helped guide her through the negotiation process.
The company called to finalize the deal on her birthday.
“As fate would have it, my birthday typically falls on Mother’s Day, and my mother is deceased,” Taylor says. “So getting that call felt like a wink from God. It felt like my mother was saying, ‘I’ve still got you. Even though I’m not with you physically, I’m still sending stuff your way.’”
The business shares that good fortune. Ezra Coffee earmarks a portion of its proceeds to fund scholarships of up to $1,000 for students pursuing four-year college degrees, regardless of their area of study. The scholarships provide gap funding for students experiencing financial insecurity while attending four year accredited universities. In its inaugural year, Ezra Coffee was able to provide scholarships to students attending Howard University, Southern University and Alabama State University.
“When customers shop with us, they’re not just buying coffee,” explained Taylor. “They’re participating in a movement of continuous blessings and education.”