In a collaboration aimed at uplifting local communities, actress, producer, and entrepreneur Issa Rae has joined forces with specialty tea brand Tazo.
The new effort, dubbed the Tazo Cafe Collective, aims to celebrate and support local, independent cafes and the communities these cafes nourish.
Issa Rae, widely recognized for her groundbreaking HBO series “Insecure,” is also a co-owner of Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen. Her partnership with Tazo elevates her contributions to entertainment and entrepreneurship. With a career that spans acting, producing, and even publishing — her New York Times bestselling memoir, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” garnered widespread acclaim — Rae continues to expand her reach, now dipping into the world of culinary arts and hospitality.
To celebrate the launch of the Tazo Cafe Collective, Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen, co-owned by Rae, has started offering a specialty beverage, Issa Rae’s Tazo Iced Passion Twist. The drink recipe is also available for fans to replicate in their own kitchens via the Tazo website. “When I was just getting my start, community cafes were spaces where I found inspiration for some of my favorite stories. Now as a cafe owner, I’m excited to join Tazo to support more of these spaces and the communities they inspire,” Rae said in a statement.
The initiative is not just about inventive beverages; it aims to go deeper. Tazo plans to offer both financial and marketing aid to cafes that join the Tazo Cafe Collective, all part of a broader, quarter-million-dollar-plus commitment to invest in local and independent cafes. “Local cafes are vital to communities — they’re where great ideas happen,” said Galila Gray, Tazo Brand Purpose and Content Lead. “They take care in serving their neighborhoods, just like Tazo takes care in crafting distinct, delicious tea blends. We’re excited to see what we make together.”
Ajay Relan, Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen co-owner, underscores the importance of cafes as more than just physical spaces. “For as long as we can remember, cafes are core to the communities they serve. They are a conduit for creativity and connection,” said Relan. “At Hilltop, our goal is to leave our patrons better than we found them. Shout out to Tazo for highlighting businesses like ours across the country and reminding us that we’re all in this, together.”
While Tazo’s product line is already available in retail stores nationwide, the Cafe Collective initiative looks to deepen the brand’s relationship with local cafes. This is in line with Tazo’s longstanding commitment to challenge societal norms and bring about change from within communities.
Rae isn’t the first celebrity to leverage the coffee shop for community support. In May, singer The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) partnered with Blue Bottle to pay homage to his Ethiopian heritage. That partnership saw the launch of Samra Origins coffee blends, named after Tesfaye’s mother. The coffee also supports hunger relief efforts as part of The Weeknd XO Humanitarian Fund.
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