According to the data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Black-owned businesses account for only 9.75% of all businesses in the United States. This staggering statistic shows the need for more Black entrepreneurs, which is true across all industries, especially in the food and beverage spaces. Today we're shining a light on Black-owned food and beverage brands that embody creativity, innovation and excellence in their respective fields.
Join us as we delve into their stories and the delectable creations that have set them apart. From their innovative approaches to flavor combinations to their deep-rooted connections to traditional ingredients, we explore the richness of their culinary journeys. By supporting these brands, we contribute to a more diverse and inclusive industry while enjoying high-quality products that enhance everyday life.
Continue reading to learn more about the inaugural class—in no particular order—of the Best Black-Owned Food and Beverage Brands for the 2023 EBONY Food & Wine Honors.
Kareem Queeman, Mr. Bake Sweets
Kareem Queeman, aka Mr. Bake, is an award-winning celebrity baker and LGBTQ+ advocate. His journey began at eight years old when he discovered his passion for baking while assisting his grandmother in her Harlem kitchen. Inspired by her and fueled by his love for all things sweet, Queeman embarked on a path that would lead him to become the owner of Mr. Bake Sweets.
The expert baker's talent and creativity have earned him recognition on local and national platforms. He has been named a 2023 James Beard Awards Outstanding Pastry Chef/Baker Semifinalist, likely the first Black and Queer honoree in the category's history. His dedication and commitment to his craft have allowed him to excel in wholesale baking, cake decorating, client management, and dessert catering. Through his company, he brings joy to his local customers and reaches a broader audience with his famous Cake Jars available on his website.
Ehime Eigbe, Sweetkiwi
Finding a treat that satisfies your cravings while being nutritious can often feel impossible when it comes to desserts. Meet Ehime Eigbe, founder of Sweetkiwi, a mother of two who battled health struggles with fibroids and embarked on a journey to improve her well-being and make healthier food choices. While seeking a holistic diet, Ehime discovered the benefits of Greek yogurt—a nutrient-dense, high-protein food that satisfied her sweet tooth. Inspired by her newfound passion for Greek yogurt, she began handcrafting her own frozen desserts using it as the base.
Sweetkiwi is not just a hidden gem anymore. The brand's products are available online at their official website and can be found in over 2,000 stores nationwide, including well-known retailers like Whole Foods and Walmart. This widespread availability has allowed this company to gain a loyal customer base and contribute to the increasing demand for nutritious desserts. Thanks to its ever-growing popularity and dedication to providing a unique and wholesome dessert experience, Sweetkiwi is projected to exceed seven figures in revenue by the end of 2023.
Ibraheem Basir, A Dozen Cousins
Ibraheem Basir, founder of A Dozen Cousins, grew up in a large family where food was central to celebrations and gatherings. With a multicultural background and a passion for culinary traditions, Basir recognized the need for convenient and nutritious options that captured the essence of familiar cultural dishes. Beans, vegetables, and nutrient-dense avocado oil take center stage in their products, while GMOs and artificial flavors are strictly avoided.
The brand's mission goes beyond providing quality products; it extends to advocating for healthier choices and representation in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. A Dozen Cousins also believes in giving back and positively impacting underserved communities. The brand provides an annual grant and volunteer support to non-profit organizations that are working towards eliminating socioeconomic health disparities in the U.S.
Quentin Vennie, Equitea
Equitea, the botanical blended, all-natural, and organic canned iced tea brand, is on a transformative journey of healing, advocacy, and accessible wellness. Founded by Quentin Vennie in Baltimore, Maryland, Equitea is the only Black-owned ready-to-drink tea available in 398 Sprouts Farmers Markets nationwide. The brand's mission is to prioritize mental health and provide a natural remedy for anxiety management.
Vennie's personal struggle with severe anxiety and depression led him to seek alternatives to prescription pills. His tea ritual became a meditative practice, offering calmness and aiding in his recovery. When his son, Jayden, was diagnosed with ADHD, the brand's founder took a holistic approach, creating a unique blend of lemongrass and lavender tea that improved Jayden's focus and eased anxiety.
Dianna King, Eat UNrestricted
The inception of Eat UNrestricted is rooted in a personal journey driven by a desire to make a difference. Dianna King, the founder, experienced the devastating loss of her father to stage 4 cancer. Witnessing her father's health decline despite incorporating more plant-based foods into his diet left her questioning the accessibility and taste of such options. King's parents' history with cancer inspired her to embrace a vegan lifestyle in June 2016. She believed that if plant-based foods were more accessible and delicious, they could have potentially prolonged her father's life and positively impacted countless others in similar situations.
One of Eat UNrestricted's standout creations, the Better Cheddar Cheese Dip, encapsulates their dedication to crafting flavorful options that meet various dietary needs. This vegan dip appeals to those following a plant-based lifestyle and is also free from soy, gluten, and nuts. The company takes pride in using clean and simple ingredients, ensuring that the dip is delicious and adheres to its commitment to transparency and health consciousness.
Jen Martin, Pipcorn
In a world saturated with mass-produced snacks, Pipcorn is a brand that has reimagined the snacking experience. Pipcorn is not just a snack brand; it's a platform for promoting diversity and representation. Founded in 2012 by Co-Founder Jen Martin, her brother Jeff, and Jeff's wife Teresa Tsou, this Black-owned food brand has carved a unique path in the natural foods space. Martin, a queer Black woman, has been hailed as one of the founders to watch. By actively pioneering for more diversity in the natural foods space, the company challenges the prevailing norms and brings underrepresented voices to the forefront. This commitment to inclusivity extends beyond the founders, as Pipcorn fosters an inclusive work environment that welcomes individuals from all backgrounds, ensuring diverse perspectives and ideas shape the brand's direction.
With sustainability a significant cornerstone of the brand's philosophy, the snack company strives to create snacks that are not only delicious but also sustainable. The brand's focus on heirloom corn is a testament to this commitment. Heirloom corn varieties are traditional and non-GMO, preserving biodiversity and reducing reliance on genetically modified crops. From its humble beginnings in Brooklyn, it has achieved remarkable success, earning recognition from notable figures like Oprah Winfrey and investor Barbara Corcoran on Shark Tank.
Ezra Rufino, Pow Adaptogens
Ezra Rufino, a New York City native with a deep-rooted passion for wellness, founded Pow to help individuals wake up feeling their best every day. Rufino's journey towards launching Pow stems from personal struggles with chronic health issues. This appreciation for natural healing led Rufino to transition from coffee to matcha, drawn to the antioxidant-rich properties and balanced energy it provides. Combining natural ingredients and ancient remedies, Pow's Wonder Matcha offers a powerful solution to increase focus, reduce stress, and promote overall well-being.
By embracing ancient remedies and calming rituals, the beverage brand strives to help people navigate the stressors of modern life and unlock their full potential. With a strong commitment to promoting holistic wellness, Pow is a brand that encourages individuals to prioritize their health and awaken their true potential, one sip at a time.