WASHINGTON PARK — Two South Side best friends will serve up coffee through a residency Thursday at Retreat at the Currency Exchange Cafe.
Monday Coffee, a joint venture between Amanda Harth and Felton Kizer, will be in residence at the cafe, 305 E. Garfield Blvd., through Dec. 31. The duo sees this as an opportunity to connect people “on a positive note.”
“This was about a year and a half in the making in terms of concept, then the pandemic hit, and we pressed pause for a bit,” Harth said. “Then, when the protests and riots broke out, we said, ‘We have to do something,’ and coffee was an easy way to keep people connected.”
When Harth isn’t making coffee, she runs Clothing Humans, a media company and resource for independent and emerging designers. Kizer runs Off-Kilter, an inclusive media company.
The residency is the first time the duo will occupy a physical space since launching in October. Monday Coffee is brewed and bottled in small batches in Chicago and roasted in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Monday Coffee joins an ever-growing list of Black-owned shops on the South Side: From Sip & Savor and Eméché Cafe in Bronzeville to Brewer Coffee and Custard and Afro Joe’s in Auburn Gresham, coffee entrepreneurs are providing a service while building community.
Harth and Kizer sought out other locally based Black roasters for counsel and dove into research to figure out what would work best for their venture. Not wanting to take the “traditional approach” a lot of other companies choose, they strategized how to introduce their work in a way that made patrons feel welcome.
“The direction we want to take is existing in other spaces, so operating in coffee bars or doing pop-up events for clothing or furniture stores. We’re a coffee company, but we sell more than drinks,” Harth said. “We see it as a lifestyle brand.”
“We want to give people options and meet them where they are, which is why we offer three different roasts,” Kizer said.
The duo have delivered their ready-to-drink cold brew to people’s homes since their October launch.
Specialty drinks like The Good Day — a combination of cold brew, oat milk and lavender syrup made in-house — will run about $3 a cup. The partners are working on a food menu. The prices are a reflection of their ethos to keep items affordable, Kizer said.
And the businesses’ name — Monday Coffee — is an attempt to change the tone around Mondays to be more positive.
“Mondays are our most productive days as individuals and collectively, so we wanted to build a different tone around the culture of Monday in general,” Harth said.
Monday Coffee is hosting a residency launch party 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday and a Happy Hour celebration later that day 7-9 p.m.
Regular business hours are 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, with a 5-8 p.m. Happy Hour on Thursdays. The residency is at Retreat at the Currency Exchange Cafe, 305 E. Garfield Blvd.
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