Humans of Cartel: Eboni Key


Brittany Viar


Meet Eboni Key, a vibrant, talented individual and barista at our Coronado location! Take a moment to learn more about this human we’re lucky to have on our team.

What are a few interesting things about you?

I am a creator, I have a passion for creative outlets like dance, singing, acting, photography, and videography. I love to laugh and bring light to anyone willing to receive it. I am an Aries, 32, and married and live very lively.

What brought you to Cartel? How long have you worked with us?

I came to Cartel because I was looking for a flexible part time job that would still allow me to prioritize my business. I’ve been with Cartel for almost a year now and I have learned so much about the coffee world. I really love that so many people that work at Cartel are OBSESSED with all things coffee and really aim to educate everyone who comes in about good tasting coffee.

What’s your perspective on Cartel, your community, and the industry as a whole?

Cartel brings in a lot of new faces that either know a lot about coffee or those customers looking for the Starbucks cold foam. At the Coronado location I feel as if all those that come inside get a little surprise. Black art everywhere, intentional music, and a smiling face ready to help in such  small, warm, homey feel, with tons of vitamin D showering the space! 

It’s been awesome to see the growth of Cartel in my short time as a barista and I know there is a community that is very loyal to cartels unique blends. 

What was your inspiration behind your photo series, “Black Joy”, hanging on the walls at Coronado? (See below)

Black Joy was shot at a birthday party for a little boy and his sister who had just lost their mom. I came to the park and was greeted with all these beautiful black smiles and curious stares. I was humbled by the kids real quick, when I had asked for a picture and this little girl told me to move out of her way. She set her boundaries and I was proud of her, so I had decided to just shoot highlights of the birthday party and capture the candid love flowing around the park.

It was a hot day and the kids were having a blast on the water pad, eating candy from the Piñata, stuffing their faces with hot dogs, and just enjoying each other’s company. While capturing this I couldn’t help but think about how I too wasn’t able to grow up with a parent and having a life altering change around the same age. Despite this, there were a lot of grown up conversations around that time, and it required a resilience to be strong but also still a child too. I thought about how a lot of kids who looked like me and had similar experiences and how we had to grow up so fast. I thought about our community and all the conversations that had to happen with little boys and girls about injustice, prejudices, biases, fairness, and equality. Having to understand very young that you may have to work harder, prove yourself more, educate others about your history and culture, all while still living within a community with the same hardships, and traumas today. As a black kid I felt as though childhood was cut so short, and I wanted to capture the essence of this joyous time in their lives knowing that black joy – a joy without a worry in the world, no fear, no stress, just unapologetic Black Joy – is so precious.

What does Black History Month meant to you?

Black History is a time that I revisit all the contributions that my ancestors have shared with the world. Our culture, artists, leaders, authors, writers, innovators; you name it. Black people have provided the world with so much that we still rely on today, with coffee being one of them. 

Coffee is a huge part of Black History! The first known crop was discovered in Ethiopia and gained popularity in America during the slave trade. The Black History of coffee is a major in itself. Aside from honoring those that have made an impact It’s also important for me to acknowledge the realities of how much history is still very present in 2023. There still needs to be a lot of conversation and action around injustices, healing, trauma, oppression and inequality.  

What is your favorite thing about your job?

My favorite things about Cartel is my Coronado location and the team I get to work with. I really love how safe most of us feel there and with each other. I love our regulars and the small community in and around the Coronado location. I got really lucky!

What are your aspirations for the future?

My future aspirations are to blow up! I want to tell my story in all the ways in which I create and impact young people who also love to create and use it as a form of release and therapy. I plan to have my own photography production studio, and a coffee shop in my life time.

What is your favorite beverage?

Agave Cappuccino.


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