5 Black-Owned Businesses that have Inspired Us in the Food & Drinks Sector
At Time Machine + Folks, culture is at the centre of our passion and work. We are on a mission to build multicultural brands that shine with an international heart and social value.
We believe that there is no future without culture. The diversity of cultures is what has made the world wonderful and each brand unique.
Today, we are going to introduce 5 black-owned food and drink businesses that have inspired us with their stories. They have brought innovation into their heritage, with the memory of their homeland, and an unwavering spirit to make a difference. They have explored their unique cultures to captivate the hearts of modern customers worldwide, extending beyond their own communities.
Matugga Rum: The mixology of Afro-Jamaican tradition and modern craftsmanship from Scotland
Matugga has mastered one of the essences that we all love about Black culture—extremely bold yet completely elegant. The tone of the brand fully embraces a modern spirit whilst bringing cultural symbols to the forefront, offering a sophisticated yet culturally rich tone that will appeal to a wide range of customers!
Matugga drawsinspiration from a rich 'Rum Triad' deeply rooted in the traditions of Jamaican rum-making. This unique blend, which pays homage to Jamaica but also vividly captures the essence of East African culture and flavours, seamlessly interweaves with Scotland's distilling heritage.
With strong connections to Uganda, the Matugga team shares a commitment to supporting the livelihoods of sugar cane growers in East Africa. Their dedication led them to embark on an ambitious venture – establishing a sugar cane plantation on their family-owned land in Matugga. The primary objective of this initiative is to create employment opportunities and provide comprehensive training to local agricultural workers.
Jacine and Paul Rutasikwa, the visionaries behind Matugga, embarked on their venture in 2015 when they introduced a range of rums under their brand.
At the time, they stood out as one of the first, if not the very first, black-owned spirit brand from the UK.
Their journey into the spirits industry was a profound learning experience as they began with little prior knowledge of the sector aside from being passionate spirits connoisseurs.
The results of their hard work became apparent in 2018 when the duo opened their distillery located in Livingston, West Lothian. Today, they take immense pride in their production process, characterised by a meticulous seven-day fermentation of sugar cane molasses and the maturation of the spirit within ex-bourbon oak casks.
Blue Turaco Coffee: When passion meets compassion, we see the power to uplift lives
Blue Taraco's design and brand development beautifully encapsulates the honesty, integrity, and passion that shines through from the statement of the founder. It is earthy, organic, and African, yet balanced with a commercial touch and contemporary style that will appeal to Western audiences. It gives us a sense of strength, joy, as well as determination and mission. It is perfect for a brand like Blue Taraco, with a big heart to support the community whilst delivering powerful products for its customers!
Wycliffe Sande, founder of Blue Turaco, is on a mission to make a difference with his ‘economically and socially-sustainable’ coffee brand. For every bag of Ugandan Robusta coffee he sells, the brand funds two meals for a hungry school child in Uganda where all the coffee is sourced exclusively from smallholder farms.
Wycliffe's journey into the coffee industry was not without its challenges, the first - breaking past the gatekeepers and into the industry.
According to him, many black founders, like himself, lack extensive networks within the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) field and often struggle to secure the necessary investments.
It was almost inevitable that Wycliffe would find himself working within the coffee industry. When he was only 8 years old he picked coffee beans to support his family. Coffee not only sustained him and his education but it eventually led him to London where he remains based.
He has witnessed firsthand the transformative power of coffee in improving the lives of farming communities, particularly in areas like education and hunger alleviation.
Today, Wycliffe remains actively involved in coffee cultivation in Uganda where the sounds of Blue Turaco birds continue to resonate in the trees. He uses his farms as platforms for educating smallholders on more effective methods for growing and harvesting high-quality Robusta coffee.
Wycliffe is proud to share: "I now cultivate coffee in Uganda and directly purchase from farmers, championing and empowering farming communities by paying 30% more than traditional coffee trade routes.
With each Blue Turaco purchase, we contribute to providing two lunches, combating hunger in Ugandan village schools, and assisting children, like me, in accessing nourishment to stay in school." His dedication provides opportunities for the next generation of individuals entering the coffee industry, ensuring that they too have a fair chance at success.
Chika's has a nostalgic feel that warms the heart. Its simple yet joyous packaging effectively delivers what it promised - the Nigerian flavour inspired by the founder's childhood memories. The narrative presents a unique proposition to the business that could make it stand out distinctively from others in the snacking market, striking a balance between commercial appeal and a feel-good effect.
Chika’s fundamental reason for building the business is “to give back to the communities where the inspiration for the snacks comes from”. The snacks draw inspiration from the founder's childhood holidays in Nigeria, and the ingredients are thoughtfully sourced from various regions across Africa to support local communities.
Chika’s journey began with a profound passion for exploring global flavours, inspired by the founder's cherished family recipes. The mission was to encapsulate the essence of Nigerian cuisine whilst simultaneously contributing to community development.
All of the tasty snacks are produced here in the UK but Chika’s is passionate about creating jobs in Nigeria, too. As such, Chika’s has established a purpose-built manufacturing facility in Lagos, Nigeria, where an equally tasty range of treats is being produced and made available to the local market. In doing so, Chika’s actively creates job opportunities in Nigeria whilst sharing the wonderful snacks to the world.
Padnas Cocktails: The wonderful tastes inspired by life-long bonds and friendship
What's better than a brand story for a cocktail company that is inspired by strong connections between friends and homeland? Padnas simply hits our hearts with its authenticity and no-fuss approach to their brand expression and packaging, on top of the nostalgia that shines through from the founder's personal story, giving the drinks profound and heartfelt meaning that will connect people.
Inspired by the founder’s St Lucian heritage, Padnas offers a range of rum punch blends - dark Caribbean rum infused with rich flavours of fresh fruits - creating a beverage so tasty that you may keep it all to yourself!
The roots of Padnas (pronounced ‘pad-nuhz’) trace back to two close friends who share a deep connection with St. Lucia. This strong bond with their heritage is reflected not only in their brand expression, but also in the prominent taste that runs throughout their range of drinks.
The brand's name, ‘Padnas’, originates from the Creole term for ‘friends’, and it serves as an invitation for individuals to savour their drinks in the company of their own friends and communities, creating memorable moments together.
A proud spirit bringing individuality to life on your tastebuds
"We set out to make a vodka that isn't for everyone” - we love this statement and its unique positioning in the market with a mysterious, deep, and beautifully made black bottle that will clearly intrigue its audience.
OTM Vodka are clear in their messaging - their vodka is distinct, full of character, not to be mixed, never to be served with a sparkler, and it won’t be for everyone. What is it then? It’s smooth, sweet on the palette, and - to be clear - it is an ultra-premium award-winning vodka.
OTM’s vodka is created in South London where it undergoes a meticulous distillation process - blending potato, rye and grape - with a triple distillation followed by final single pot still distillation. This intricate procedure yields a full-bodied vodka celebrated for its smoothness and sweet notes that dance gracefully on the palate.
In 2021, OTM Vodka's commitment to excellence was affirmed when it earned the highest possible accolade in the ultra-premium award category, unequivocally distinguishing itself as the undisputed champion in a blind-tasting by the industry's most esteemed mixologists, distillers, and critics. This is a vodka like no other!
It is our passion to celebrate the diversity of culture, entrepreneurship, and leadership in the world by sharing stories and introducing all these amazing brands to more people!
Get in touch now (firstname.lastname@example.org) to explore how we can help enhance your brand storytelling using cultural intelligence.
Note: All images used are from Google, websites and official channels of the brands and Unpsplash.com open source.