clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Mother-Daughter Team Builds Cooperative Coffee Shop in Sherman Heights

Cafe X: By Any Beans Necessary is helping to anchor the multi-use 1835 Studios.

Two smiling women stand back to back.
L to R: Cynthia M. Ajani and Khea Pollard
Cafe X

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.

A coffee bar with artwork on the walls.
Cafe X at 1835 Studios.
Cafe X

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.

Cafe X: By Any Beans Necessaery

1835 Imperial Avenue, San Diego, CA 92102

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater San Diego newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world