Nationally known, Prince George’s-based comedian Joe Clair has set up a coffee business designed to both meet the taste buds of his customers and provide financial assistance to local charities.
“The idea of getting into the coffee business started a few years ago when I was working on my morning radio show at WPGC-AM,” Clair said. “We offer coffee mugs as prizes and I drank one cup of coffee while on the air. My wife, Niema, suggested that I look deeper into the coffee because I like it so much and I like coffee cake. We decided to start our own line of coffee and we wanted to be in a space where there weren’t many Blacks.”
A Sept. 30, 2021, article on CNBC’s website on African Americans and the coffee industry revealed that Blacks remain significantly underrepresented as customers and entrepreneurs. CNBC reported in the U.S., Blacks count as the least likely ethnic group to drink coffee regularly, according to 2019 research from the National Coffee Association, a market research and lobbying organization.
Clair said he came up with the name of his company, The Percolator Coffee Co., in an innovative manner.
“I considered a number of names for my product,” he said. “Some said it was obvious, ‘A Cup of Joe’ but I wanted something else. It was then I thought of the song that came out in the 1990s, ‘It’s Time for the Percolator.’ I thought about coffee percolating in the 1980s whether it was in school or church. I also wanted a name that would appeal to urban and rural America.”
Clair said people can get his coffee and other products on his Facebook and Instagram pages. In the future, he’d like to open a brick-and-mortar store. To promote his products and the brand, he plans to leverage social media and work trade shows. He said the public sector will become a target, seeking contracts with federal, state and local agencies as well as municipalities. Additionally, he will actively pursue putting his product in Walmart and Target. He noted that he will donate a portion of his proceeds to charities.
“I want to make capitalism work for those who aren’t wealthy,” Clair said. “I am thinking along the lines of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and Paul Newman’s products where all or most of their profits go to charities. I want to brand my philanthropy.”
Clair sits on the board of directors for Covenant House Greater Washington located in Ward 8. He said Covenant House will be a major benefactor of The Percolator Co.
Even though he has become a well-known comedian and media personality through his years working for WPGC-AM, BET’s Rap City, Def Comedy Jam and ComicView, he said the entertainment circuit itself often doesn’t make an entertainer financially prosperous.
“Jay-Z, Russell Simmons and Puffy used their entertainment platforms to transition into other businesses,” Clair said. “That’s what I am doing. I cannot rely on the comedian circuit. I must have other streams of revenue to make it.”
“I am also a realtor and have helped some people go from renting to owning their homes. And that is what it is about. I help people through my real estate business and I will do the same with The Percolator Company,” he said.