Before Becoming Revolutionary Coffee Roaster, Alum Keba Konte Photographed Revolutionaries

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

ENTREPRENEUR -- It might be a stretch to call Red Bay Coffee “revolutionary” for simply being a Black-owned specialty coffee roastery that sells to communities of color — but not by much. It’s a real departure from the norm in a niche industry run mostly by, and for a certain flavor of, white folks. And while Red Bay’s founder, Keba Konte, never envisioned that coffee shops would be the stage for his societal disruption, he was certainly prepared for the venture.

Konte grew up in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco in the 1960s. He was the child of an interracial couple — his mom was a photographer, and his dad was a carpenter with a background in philosophy. He wrestled at San Francisco State while studying photojournalism, and in 1994, Konte went to South Africa to cover the country’s first all-race election. He photographed the newly elected president, Nelson Mandela. Then he went to Cuba and photographed Fidel Castro.