MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Coffee has been a jump start for college buddies turned business partners Rick Askew and Dwayne Chaffen.
“We identified a problem within our city,” said Chaffen.”Seventy-five percent of all children in the third grade could not read and write at a third grade level.”
They came up with an idea that mixed business with pleasure, calling it Memphis Grindhouse Coffee.
“We were going to open a coffee shop and have a reading section in there where the kids can come in, use the WiFi, read books, do homework and encourage learning,” explained Chaffen.
They put together a business plan and then asked banks for a loan.
“We went to 10 different banks and they all turned us down,” he said.
The denials didn’t kill their plans. They decided to pivot and put their own money together and launched their brand online. They’ve even expanded to selling and producing imported coffee to customers in 20 different states and outside the country.
For every purchase, the company donates a portion of the proceeds to county elementary schools to help literacy.
“We’re just business men, we are not athletes, we are not celebrities. We are just businessmen. We’re two working class, hard-working gentleman who learned how to read and write, and look how far reading and writing has taken us in life,” said Chaffen.
They’re a walking example of what kids in Memphis can do too.
“We’re helping our people. I enjoy being Black owned. I love it. I love it. I love standing out in the crowd,” added Askew.
As for the location of where the first Memphis Grindhouse shop will be, it’s still in the works.They’re looking at an underserved neighborhood, one where Memphis Grindhouse Coffee can serve its greatest purpose one cup at a time.
“We list out the places we want to be and we best select what works best for our budget, for our customer base,” said Chaffen. “But we do have some things working in place. We are very excited. I don’t want to blow the lid or leak it out too fast.”