In Newark, Black Swan Expresso has become one of the most popular coffee shops in town. Mayor Ras Baraka has said how much he enjoys the fresh baked goods and coffee, as do the other locals who flock to the cafe. As a Black-woman owned coffee shop, it has become more than just a tasty breakfast spot; it has become an example of diversity and perseverance.

Owner Laura Mashtaler created her coffee shop for one reason: She couldn’t find her order at fast food restaurants.

“I like coffee, and my husband does, too,” Mashtaler said. “And, honestly, we got tired of going to Starbucks and all these other places and telling them how we wanted our coffee. We’d go into (New York City) and get coffee the way we really liked it, but didn’t have a place in New Jersey, so I decided to make it myself.”

Mashtaler had no clue that her business would open up endless doors for those in her community. She has found success in bringing in Newark residents who might never have considered a career in coffee and training them to be some of the best at creating some of the most delicious coffee around town.

“We’re in an urban area and we deal with a diverse population, with people from LGBT communities, African Americans, Latinos…we wanted to bring them in,” she said. “A major part of what we were trying to do is bring jobs to the area.”

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