A community-minded coffee shop has found a permanent place to land in Sherman Heights where it’s a foundational member of 1835 Studios, a creative hub that houses a mix of retail, art, and event venues. Though Cafe X: By Any Beans Necessary launched its first storefront on El Cajon Boulevard in late 2019, it was forced to shutter in 2020 after the COVID-19 shutdown and its landlord subsequently selling the building.
Co-owned by Khea Pollard and her mother, Cynthia M. Ajani, the Black-owned business is now open Tuesday through Friday on Imperial Avenue, with a grand opening event being held from 9:30 a.m to 3:30 p.m. on Monday, February 28. At 1835 Studios, it shares the 17,000-square-foot space with galleries and shops as well as an outdoor rock climbing gym and food trucks; Chef Buddha Blasian Soul Foods is currently parked on site, with more food trucks to come.
Created as a welcoming space for artist talks, community discussions, and other events and offering a menu of coffee and tea drinks, from a wild berry tea mixed with lemonade and fresh fruit to the Shabazz, a latte flavored with hot honey and black and white chocolate that’s named for Malcolm X, the cafe’s namesake, Cafe X has another purpose: to help propel systemic change for marginalized communities in San Diego.
Pollard and Ajani, who’ve devoted their careers to healthcare and public service, have positioned Cafe X is a stakeholder, along with San Diego for Every Child and Jewish Family Service of San Diego, in the development the Black Women’s Resilience Project, a program designed to support generational wealth building in underserved communities and tackle racial and gender inequalities by providing a guaranteed income to Black women. They’re also working with youth training organizations, creating internships that could translate into careers with the cooperative. Pollard tells Eater that Cafe X is just the first of several employee-owned businesses she’s planning to build in San Diego; she hopes to open another cafe in the South Bay and even expand her mission to include a full-service restaurant.