Imbibe 75 People to Watch: Jessica Moncada-Konte and Kori Saika Chen - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Imbibe 75 People to Watch: Jessica Moncada-Konte and Kori Saika Chen

When Jessica Moncada-Konte and Kori Saika Chen opened Alkali Rye near Oakland’s historic Grand Lake Theatre this past summer—selling tea and coffee alongside wine and spirits—the nationwide protests against racial injustice taking place at the time seemed to underscore the shop’s mission, with its emphasis on BIPOC and LGBTQ+ makers and producers.

For Moncada-Konte (daughter of Keba Konte), such an approach made perfect sense. “My father taught me that things like coffee and chocolate are luxury goods that come from brown countries,” she says, noting that they felt a natural inclination to make sure support for these communities was reflected all the way to the retail level.

The two are longtime beverage professionals—Moncada-Konte a former bartender (“She’s poured half of Oakland a drink,” Chen jokes), and Chen a coffee and tea importer—who met while working together at Red Bay Coffee in East Oakland. That’s where they first came up with the idea of a wide-ranging drinks retail space. “We thought about a business that could incorporate all these different drinks we love, and highlight the rhythm of how we drink throughout the day,” Chen says. “And both of us come from good, activisty Bay Area parents who taught us how to incorporate activism as part of our daily lives. So we think about how to use the platform we have to do some good in the world in the way that we can.”

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