Minority-owned coffee business launches product in Meijer stores

NOW: Minority-owned coffee business launches product in Meijer stores

SOUTH BEND, Ind., --- A minority owned business is marking major milestones. Importin' Joe’s Ethiopian Coffee is now being sold by Meijer in Mishawaka and they’re working to expand to more than 60 locations across Indiana and Southwest Michigan by the spring.

“It’s currently at the Grape Road location and this will be our first time going into a large retail chain,” said Joseph Luten the Co-Founder & President of Importin’ Joe’s Ethiopian Coffee.

Joseph and his wife Afomia launched Importin Joe’s in the middle of the pandemic two years ago here in South Bend.

Afomia who's Ethiopian, wanted to help her husband bring coffee from Ethiopia, where it originated to right here in Michiana. 

Since then, the Ethiopian coffee is now in nearly a dozen locations in the area, including most recently on Meijer store shelves as of last week.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to give representation for minority on local businesses,” said Luten.

Luten isn’t just stopping there, he has goals of taking their coffee regionally and even making history by taking it national.

“Currently in the country there are only two nationally distributed black-owned coffee companies out of the tens of thousands of coffee roasters and companies,” said Luten. “Our goal and our focus is to get to national distribution. We believe firmly that there is importance and significance in representation.”

Importin’ Joe’s is also leaning on local support to help make it happen, like Project Impact in South Bend that provides resources to help minority owned businesses like theirs thrive.

“It’s also a matter of making sure that these are the businesses that I feel are really the lifeblood of entrepreneurship and a community they get the least amount of attention so we’re just shining a bright light on them and trying to make sure that there were bringing them to the forefront,” said James Summers a Volunteer Executive Director, of Project Impact.

Luten is hoping these kinds of resources will even help support his move to scale up to a new 4,200sq facility, that will not only help get their product into dozens of Meijer’s across the region, but also help them give back to the community.

"We want to be able to open and expand more opportunity to our communities and to engage minority entrepreneurs and expand the opportunity,” he said, "We want to target at risk youth to teach them the commercial processes and teach them how to scale a business and an introduction into new industries that they would've never been introduced to."

The business is not only hoping to give back to the local community but to their roots as well.

“Our entire goal behind Importin' Joe’s is to change the trajectory of children who are at risk and children who are homeless so our goal is to cultivate a community that can eventually accommodate 15,000 or more from children and women in Ethiopia, while simultaneously equipping our current ecosystem in our community here as well,” said Luten.

Project impact is holding a Minority Owned Business competition that includes Importin’ Joe’s.

The winner will be picked by the community and could receive free rent for a year up to $20,000.

To vote on for Importin’ Joe’s or another local minority owned business by Friday click here.

More information on Importin' Joe's can be found here.

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