Editor’s note: Made in Tarrant is an occasional Q&A series on small businesses started in Tarrant County. Submit your business here.
Who? Patrice and Tweety Angwenyi are the founders and owners of HustleBlendz.
When? The couple started the business, roasting coffee in their one-bedroom apartment in 2019. They opened a brick-and-mortar storefront in January 2022.
Where? 1201 Evans Ave., No. 101, Fort Worth.
What? A company that specializes in all things cold brew.
Patrice and Tweety Angwenyi, the faces behind HustleBlendz, spoke with the Fort Worth Report about transitioning from an online business to a physical one, and coffee culture in Fort Worth.
This interview has been edited for clarity and grammar.
Sadek: Tell me about HustleBlendz. How did it come about?
Tweety: HustleBlendz started with my wife. She had an idea. She was an educator coming out of school one day and she called me. She said HustleBlendz… I was like, ‘That’s cool. What a cool name.’ And she’s like, ‘No, we’re going to create a coffee shop called HustleBlendz because we’re going to blend two different hustles.’
Everybody always has a side hustle. A nurse is not always a nurse. A nurse has some other side hustle. A teacher always has another side hustle. But we want to create a community, a place where they can come together and share coffee because that’s where a lot of people meet for conversations — meetings at the coffee shop. So she had that idea and she decided to make it more of an online business. We started roasting and selling our coffee online on Amazon. And then we shifted to cold brew. We started selling our cold brew online and that was successful enough for us to start our brick-and-mortar.
Patrice: So the name HustleBlendz came to me but we were both neck deep. Tweety taught himself how to roast coffee, so at home, we would roast coffee and just kind of experiment with different blends and different origins and just really just kind of nurture the culture of HustleBlendz or what would be HustleBlendz. Our whole thing was one day aspiring to own our own business and honestly, just the grit of running with an idea. That was our biggest thing.
Hustle stands for ‘Help Us See The Light Everywhere.’ Our whole thing is we’re not trying to push the narrative of hustling and spinning your wheels and going crazy and just running into walls all the time. We really just want to inspire people to go after that thing, whatever that thing is. Don’t let another year go by or another decade go by and you have all these ‘should of, could of.’
Sadek: Can you tell me a little bit more about what it’s been like to go from online to now having this cool space? I love the idea of a coffee shop in a shipping container like Connex.
Patrice: Online is a totally different experience. At that time we were both employed full-time. The orders come in during the day and we’re like, ‘Oh, that’s really cool,’ you know? It feels more passive. With in-person, it’s the full experience.
For us online, it was really important for us to push what HustleBlendz meant almost to the point where a customer could recite the script back to us. And that was so effective because now, some of those online customers have transferred into in-person customers. And now they’re like, ‘Hey, I’ve been with you from the beginning. I remember this and I remember this and I remember this packaging and I remember this.’ In-person is also extremely gratifying, seeing people come in.
Sadek: Tweety, you mentioned your grandfather had a coffee and tea farm back home in Kenya. Does that play a role in how you make your coffee blends?
Tweety: When I was a little boy, we would go into the coffee and tea farms and take the tea, understand what tea leaves look like, and plant the actual plant that brings out the coffee. That process was so difficult as a kid that when I grew up and became older, I was like, ‘I don’t want to do anything with coffee and tea.’
It was just a lot of work that these farmers do for us to get the coffee bean over here. So coming here to America and seeing it being in other stores, I wanted to have a culture that represented that in this neighborhood so that people can see that there are African roots in our coffee items. Our menu was tailored specifically to our culture.
Patrice: There is one particular blend and we get from there, it’s Bwana. What that translates to in Swahili is boss and so everything about HustleBlendz translates or is related to the boss culture.
Sadek: Tell me more about your coffee menu. You don’t offer any of the classic coffee or espresso drinks.
Patrice: It’s a fair mix of us together. We’re married, we have two kids, but (HustleBlendz) is our first baby. And so many of the menu items coincide with who we are. I’m here from this side of town and I’ve just always had an old soul, a lot of older hip-hop music always really resonates with me. Our Luchini Macchiato, that’s based on a Camp Lo song. The Hola Hovito, that’s a Jay-Z song. The Southside Double Shot is a node to this side of town. The Kenyan Dirty Chai, I remember when I first started dating Tweety, I’d always come to his parents’ house and they would always have tea time.
Sadek: What has been the reaction to your niche menu and approach to coffee?
Tweety: It’s been a really great reaction because we’re a niche business and are cold brew centered. Everything is infused with cold brew or has cold brew in it when it comes to our drinks. And I believe that people have reacted better to it because we’re experts in what we do. We’re not trying to sell you the best match in town. We’re not trying to sell you the best espresso, we’re trying to sell you the best cold brew.
Patrice: Coffee culture is a thing here, but it’s totally made up. And so when you realize that a lot of the thriving businesses out here are making up their own rules, you kind of realize I don’t have to bend to a format.
Tweety: We’ve been disruptors in the coffee industry, I would say because our lack of being traditional has caused our customers to be more in love with our drink selection because they can’t get it anywhere else.
I was really big on the verbiage because coffee comes from countries like Kenya and Tanzania. It comes from Black and brown countries but when it gets to America and these European countries, all of a sudden it’s Italian, all of a sudden it’s cappuccino… We didn’t see a lot of coffee shops that were African American owned in Texas. Why are we the only second black-owned coffee shop in Fort Worth?
Sadek: You run this coffee business alongside your two babies. How do you manage?
Tweety: For me. It’s the idea of legacy… Our main focus is one day we’re going to hand this business over to our kids. So the idea of legacy, the idea of building something generational is what keeps us going. God first for sure. But the idea of building that legacy, something to leave behind — I think that rings heavy in our hearts.
Patrice: We also have a great village, a great support system.
Sadek: Anything else you’d like to share?
Tweety: I feel like a small business of our stature didn’t have a chance when it came to the competition. We have 176 square feet of opportunity every day. I like to say that we may be in a container but we’re not contained by it. We use our customer experience and our love for coffee to serve every single person the best version of coffee that we can do. That’s been a game-changer for us.