A new spot to grab a cup of joe is coming to Oak Park later this month – and it will be particularly convenient for residents of the Albion high-rise on Lake Street. Forest Park’s Kribi Coffee is opening a new location on the first floor of the building at Lake and Forest. This will be the coffee company’s second Oak Park location and its third shop total, but it is intended to become the flagship site.
“This third location presents an opportunity for us to build from the ground up, to design and present,” said Kribi founder Jacques Shalo, speaking to Wednesday Journal from his home country of Cameroon on the western coast of Africa.
Located on the side of the building at 149 Forest Ave., a grand opening is scheduled for July 29 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., where attendees can drink coffee made from beans roasted before their eyes. Games, music and food are also on the menu to celebrate the opening of the location that Shalo called the completion of Kribi’s story.
Kribi is an environmentally sustainable, Black-owned coffee company that works with coffee bean farmers across the world to redistribute wealth back to them, breaking the cycle of poverty they face.
That poverty Kribi works to end is not insubstantial either. Over 80% of the world’s roughly 12.5 million coffee farming families live below the poverty line, according to Paul Stewart, global coffee director of non-profit TechnoServe. The company works directly with farmers, providing a mutually beneficial relationship, so you can indulge in a cup of Kribi coffee without guilt over the wider, global impact of the corporate coffee industry.
Supporting the needs of what’s happening closer to home is also a principle of the Kribi company. For every bag of coffee purchased, $5 goes to the Midwest Access Coalition, which provides access to safe, free and legal abortions regardless of the person in need’s location. Kribi also takes an active stance against systemic racism while using its products and platform to support youth education with its Black Lives Matter coffee. For each purchase of the special BLM blend, $2 goes to Tutoring Chicago, an organization which provides tutoring services for economically challenged children in the Chicago area. These products and more can be tried at Kribi’s Forest Park location, 7324 Madison St., or in Oak Park in the historic Boulevard Arcade building, 1033 South Blvd.
Kribi and its mission makes a good fit for Oak Park, a community that prides itself in having compassion for others and is home to many social support agencies. The winning combination of having a company local to the Western suburbs which provides a high-quality product and service makes the opening of Kribi’s third location particularly exciting for Albion Residential, the development and commercial real estate group that built and owns the high-rise apartment building.
“We’re really excited for someone local to come in and deliver the level of quality and service that he provides to the neighborhood,” said Andrew Yule, development vice president of Albion Residential.
Kribi is not directly affiliated with the Albion company beyond its landlord-tenant relationship. It’s a separate retail storefront within the building, but the concept of having a coffee shop at the Albion was always part of the plan during its development.
The space formerly served as a Dollop Coffee Co. location, but the company faced “challenges,” according to Shalo, and the shop ultimately closed. Dollop’s exit freed up the storefront for Kribi, which he called an exciting opportunity for his coffee company.
“It’s a culmination of a vision of the future,” Shalo said.
He’ll be back from Cameroon before the grand opening, which the company is preparing for by redecorating the space with brightly painted walls and a new mosaic outside the entrance.
Shalo is not the only person excited for the shop’s opening. Yule, who works out of the company’s headquarters in Oak Brook, has not had a chance yet to try Kribi coffee, but he hopes to be the first to grab a cup once the Albion location is up and running.
“As soon as it opens, I’ll be his first customer if I can get over there in time,” Yule said.