Leaving a legacy: Bold & Gritty tells the stories of Black men through coffee

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Neurosurgery resident David Paul found that his cousin, Daniel Prude, died in police custody through email.

“He was actually admitted to the hospital in the unit that I work on,” Paul said.

Even though he wasn’t close to Prude’s side of the family from Chicago — Paul admits that he didn’t even know he had shared relatives with Prude in the Rochester area — he says that it sparked a summer of transformation for him.

“It lit a fire under me,” Paul said. “Life is too short… I’m more than just the doctor that walks in to the hospital, I’m David Paul the husband, the father, the doctor, the community leader, the community activist, the coffee lover, all of these things.

“I need to live into who I am,” he said.

That fire turned into roasting coffee beans. Paul wanted to tell the stories of Black men, people who in Paul’s mind are don’t always have their stories told.

Coffee wasn’t always the vehicle for this conversation, however. Paul thought about how he’s had so many thoughtful conversations around coffee, and thought this was the perfect medium. They have also expanded into selling candles, journals, and other merch, all to promote a lifestyle they call “the bold and gritty life.”

When you buy their coffee, you get a story.

The coffee itself is all single-sourced, and Paul has a working relationship with a local roaster who forges trade connections, and lets them roast beans. Paul says the taste is supposed to be brighter and sweeter than other “typical dark roast coffees,” and is meant to be enjoyed black and unfiltered.

As for the stories, they try to focus on present day stories. Paul himself is a Black neurosurgeon, a field he admits doesn’t have too many others who look like him.

One of those stories is of Dr. Italo Brown, MD, who is an emergency physician and clinical instructor at Stanford University Hospital. He received 144 rejection letters before he was accepted into school.

This is from their website:

Now, as a fully licensed emergency medicine physician – Dr. Brown sees people when they are at their absolute worst, and there is often-times a mental health component to that. “We treat mental health in the black community like grandma’s couch. It’s got a plastic cover on it. You’re supposed to look at it but never actually engage or sit down on it,” he says. Dr. Brown is lifting the veil on these hard to discuss health care topics in the Black community – committing himself to being the doctor that helps marginalized individuals in crisis achieve optimal health. Dr. Brown’s persistence in pursuing his dream and the explosiveness with which he has tackled healthcare disparities sets him apart as a Bold and Gritty man.

Dr. Brown also started Trap medicine — “a Barbershop-based wellness initiative launched in Oakland” — which also mentors students around the country who want to go into medicine.

“This idea of preserving through all odds, he really exemplifies that,” Paul said. “People who overcame tremendous odds, and people who are out there grinding.”

For Paul, this is about leaving a legacy of empowerment.

“Nobody hears these stories,” he said. “We want people to know that despite all of the struggles, despite all the odds, we’re resilient. You have what it takes to really change the world.”

Bold & Gritty is also offering special bags of coffee for Black History Month only, each featuring a Black leader, including Frederick Douglass.

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