San Jose’s first Black women-owned coffeeshop serves up a welcome message of community

Jeronica Macey and Be’Anka Ashaolu
of Nirvana Soul
Photo via Reddit
By Laila Weir - Published on November 09, 2020.

“Self-care in a cup.” That’s how sisters Jeronica Macey and Be’Anka Ashaolu describe their brand-new endeavor, Nirvana Soul, which ABC 7 News says is San Jose’s first Black women-owned coffee shop.

They’ve generated plenty of buzz since opening this fall in the city’s SoFA district, pandemic and lockdown notwithstanding. In fact, it may be that the sisters’ emphasis on self-care and community-building — their mission is to use “the power of coffee and tea to bring people together” — resonates now more than ever.

“We all desire community, but unfortunately, we’re seeing increases in loneliness and isolation instead,” writes Ashaolu on the Nirvana Soul website. “40% of Americans lack companionship and meaningful relationships. 54% of the same group feels like no one knows them well. … All over the world, people are struggling with drug abuse, depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.”

Their answer? A space to come together. “We don’t just desire community, we need it,” Ashaolu writes. “Communal experiences sustain our joy, inspire our creativity, bring us peace, nurture our wellbeing, and improve our health.”

The sisters envision Nirvana Soul as “a soulful, creative, and inspiring” place “where people go for connection, culture, and peace.” They say they want their space to evoke joy: “The decor will be eclectic, warm, vibrant, and inviting. It’ll be full of creative expression from art to music that will inspire the artist in us all.”

To that end, the coffee shop displays the work of local artists on the walls and will host musicians in the future, after pandemic restrictions end, the Mercury News reports. 

And it looks like San Jose residents are liking what Nirvana Soul has to offer, if photos of customers lining up outside the shop and enthusiastic posts on Twitter are anything to judge by. 

“Best. Waffle. Ever,” posted Twitter user Katherine D. Harris. “This art & vibrant colors feed my soul.” 

Other Twitter users are keen on the opportunity to support a Black women-owned venture. “Really want to go support local black business this weekend in honor of VP Harris!” wrote a user called Jose on Nov. 7.

As a matter of fact, Ashaolu and Macey hadn’t planned to market Nirvana Soul as "Black-owned" at all, but changed their minds after the death of George Floyd left them feeling "an incredible sense of responsibility to talk about it,” the Silicon Valley Business Journal reports. 

The downtown cafe offers a robust coffee and tea menu, plus Italian soda, smoothies and more. The menu also includes granola, oats and specialty waffles, including a churro waffle, chorizo con queso waffle and bacon cheddar waffle (each $8.50).

The shop is located at 315 S 1st Street. It is open Monday-Saturday 7 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m.–noon.

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