London-based independent café chain, Black Sheep Coffee has set its sights on North America after receiving funding from one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, seven-foot-three Latvian basketball player, Kristaps Porzingis, who plays in the NBA for the Dallas Mavericks.
Porzingis’ involvement with the company will support a planned entry into the US market, and comes at a time of rapid domestic growth.
Having taken four years to open its first four sites, on Wednesday last week, Black Sheep Coffee opened four new locations in one day – two on Bishopsgate, one at Baker Street station, and one in Windsor, as well as opening sites in Birmingham’s Mailbox last Monday, and Highbury and Islington station, on Friday.
With more than 30 sites in London and close to 50 in total, the company is now focused on doubling the size of its estate by the end of summer 2022, targeting a combination of major cities and regional towns, in a mix of high office density areas as well as highly residential areas.
The company operates three different types of location; kiosk, cafés, and all-day venues, which transition from coffee by day to cocktail bar at night, serving signature Espresso Martinis, as well as craft beers, wine, champagne and prosecco.
Black Sheep Coffee uses only 100% specialty grade Robusta coffee, the only specialty coffee business in the UK to have it as a specialty house bean.
Kristaps Porzingis (pictured) said, “When I tried Black Sheep for the first time I thought, wow, this is the best coffee I’ve ever had so I knew these guys were onto something when it came to the product, but what ultimately got me to invest is when I saw what they do for the homeless community with the Free Coffee Board Initiative and what they do for the environment by getting rid of plastic.
“I thought to myself, this business is making the world a better place and I want to be a part of it. Now I can't wait until we open here in Dallas so I can get my morning brew right here at home.'
Eirik Holth and Gabriel Shohet, Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of Black Sheep Coffee, said, “We’ve only ever raised money from individuals who share our company values. When we met Kristaps in Dallas, we hit it off right away and we couldn’t be happier to count him on board the Black Sheep Team that every day is growing bigger and stronger.”
Black Sheep Coffee, run by founders, Gabriel Shohet and Eirik Holth, has raised more than £30m in funding since its inception in 2013, and has always eschewed institutional funding in a desire to remain independent.
Porzingis’ investment is part of Black Sheep Coffee’s latest £5m round of funding from private angel investors, due to close on 8 November. Porzingis joins Tellef Thorleifsson, one of the original investors in Spotify, Tore Myholt, former chairman of McKinsey Consulting Director’s Committee, and Bill Shultz, president of Coca-Cola Beverages Canada, as well as two World Series of Poker players, Martin Jacobson and Mustapha Kanit, as investors in the business.
Black Sheep Coffee was founded in 2013 by Gabriel and Eirik who were flatmates at university and quit their jobs on the same day to “leave the herd behind”. The duo is on a mission to “rid the world of boring, average-tasting coffee”.
Black Sheep Coffee’s 6 company rules are: 1. Only source the best beans in the world, 2. Never fear competition, open right next door instead 3. Get rid of plastic, 4. Support our homeless communities 5. Leave the herd behind. 6. Repeat.