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Exploring Life & Business with Tio & Kenzel Fallen of Three Keys Coffee

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tio and Kenzel Fallen.

Today we’d like to introduce you to the founders of Three Keys Coffee. Literally a mom-and-pop operation, Three Keys Coffee was created by Tio and Kenzel Fallen, a husband-and-wife duo who juggle parenthood, entrepreneurship, and full-time day jobs, all while keeping the music alive and the coffee always fresh. Their company offers a multi-sensory coffee experience through taste, sight, and sound. They explore this connection between art, music, and coffee through vibrant bag design, curated Spotify playlists to pair with each roast, and top-quality, craft-roasted coffee.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Three Keys Coffee was founded in late 2019 but our growth was propelled around the start of the Covid pandemic. This was also a time of major unrest and worldwide protest against civil and social injustices. We found that both of these forces actually helped to uplift our business. More people were confined within their homes and began brewing coffee at home and so our sales appreciated due to higher home consumption. Additionally, there were widespread #BuyBlack movements and being a Black-owned business, we received additional spotlight on platforms promoting Black-owned products and services such as ours.

Since we launched, we have shipped our coffee to customers in all US states (except one!), including Puerto Rico. We were one of a few local recipients of the “BeyGOOD/NAACP Impact Fund Grant” and one of 30 women-owned businesses selected for the “Jane Walker First Women Grant.” We have been featured in Roast Magazine, Barista Magazine, CoffeePeople Zine, Sprudge Magazine, Fortune, and Bloomberg. Two of our coffees received a 92-point rating in a blind review by an acclaimed global coffee review authority. We won a global Coffee excellence award by Sprudge Magazine for Best Packaging/Bag Design. Lastly, our Co-Founder & Head Roaster, Tio, won a roasting competition, competing against roasters from around the country.

So we have been fortunate to be able to take 2020’s lemons and turn them into lemonade, receiving a very positive reaction to our coffee and our brand over the past year. We have been grateful to see our business grow beyond Houston, reaching people all over the country and even internationally.

As you know, we’re big fans of Three Keys Coffee. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Three Keys Coffee draws its primary inspiration from Jazz, deriving its name from the valves of the trumpet—an instrument of simplicity that uses just three keys to produce notes across a creative and complex range of tonal outputs.

The trumpet is a personal connection to our origin story, with co-founder Tio Fallen having played the trumpet for over 25 years, including for the renowned FAMU Marching 100. Coffee became a passion for both Tio and his wife/co-founder, Kenzel, after traveling to coffee-producing regions and exploring the art of home-roasting. Tio has a professional background in mechanical engineering so he was intrigued by the science of roasting but also drawn to the art of creating coffee, reminiscent of the artistic freedom and creativity of creating music.

Three Keys speaks a language that’s multicultural, inclusive, and approachable to anyone who is willing to slow down and share a cup. You don’t need to be a connoisseur or an expert to partake.

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
Favorite Book • “The Coffee Roaster’s Companion” by Scott Rao: A great guide to learning the tips and tricks of roasting coffee.

Favorite App • Spotify: for listening to and curating our jazz playlists to match each of our coffees.

Favorite Podcast • Questlove Supreme: A weekly podcast hosted by The Roots’ drummer Questlove. His music knowledge is mindblowing and the guests he brings on all tell so many interesting and inspiring stories.

Pricing:

  • 12oz Bags of Whole Bean or Ground Coffee ranges from $16-20

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Primary Image: Duy Ta Secondary Image 1-2: Rob Sykes Secondary Image 3-5: John Bogna Secondary Image 6-8: Field of Study Design

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