Coffee Conversations: Black Coffee Atlanta CEO, Atlanta Housing CEO and community leaders on the future of Lakewood Heights

Jamin Butler, the CEO and co-founder of Black Coffee Atlanta, sits in the lounge area of his coffee Lakewood Heights coffee shop. (LaShawn Hudson/WABE)

Jamin Butler, the CEO and co-founder of Black Coffee Atlanta, says coffee is the medium that brings people together for conversation and community.

Bulter said he and four close friends decided to launch the coffee shop in South Atlanta as an avenue to give back and to be a part of the revitalization of the Lakewood Heights community. He says oftentimes, when a historic Black community undergoes revitalization, developers and big companies push out minority-owned businesses.  

“We come from South Central and other low-income communities across the nation, and we realized what happens when you don’t take economic opportunity to participate in change,” Butler said on Friday’s special edition of “Closer Look.”

Butler was one of several guests who participated in the July installment of “Closer Look’s” Coffee Conversations.

First, show host Rose Scott talked with Butler about the ongoing challenges facing the Lakewood Heights neighborhood and how Black Coffee Atlanta has served as a platform for financial literacy, community empowerment and entrepreneurship.

He explained that coffee originated in Ethiopia and that it has now become the number two commodity in the world.

“This is hundreds of billions of dollars in this industry, but Black and brown people are at the bottom, meaning they are farmers,” Butler said. “They don’t have ownership over the land, they don’t have ownership over the companies. So, for us, when we said we’re going to do the Black Coffee Company, it was about reclaiming an industry that started with us that we didn’t have representation,” Butler said.  

Scott then talked with Atlanta Housing President and CEO Eugene Jones Jr. about the affordable housing crisis in metro Atlanta and how his agency is working to establish more housing options for South Atlanta neighborhoods and the Bowen Homes neighborhood.

The program concluded with a roundtable discussion with NPU-Y Chair Nichole Weiswasser, Zachary Murray, the chair of Lakewood Heights Community Association and Omar Ali, the founder of Ali Development. The guests talked about the most pressing issues facing their community, including affordable housing, economic development, transit and community safety.