Coffee executive Clifton Taulbert's professional foray into the coffee world wasn't exactly the plan from the start. This author of 14 books and Harvard University guest lecturer had minimal experience with coffee growing up -- the only experience he had with it involved going to the store in the Mississippi Delta as a kid to retrieve his great aunt's monthly supply of Maxwell drip coffee.

So, what was the key ingredient that turned Taulbert into a coffee entrepreneur? According to this Pulitzer-nominated author, it all came down to one thing.


Known for his international conversations around the power of community, ?Taulbert believes imagination is a necessary sidekick for anyone who wants to travel the path of innovation. Imagination is what led Taulbert to discover what was possible for himself, has helped him envision a better future for others, and it has bolstered his place as president and CEO of an entrepreneurial venture with heart.

After the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Taulbert and his founding partner were completely taken with the stories of the tragedy's survivors. Thus, African Bean Company LLC was born, becoming the home of the Roots Java coffee brand. The company is changing the world with its specialty Rwandan coffee beans.

Seven years later, Taulbert, writer, lecturer, and former field worker is performing somewhat like a coffee guru -- with a small "g." African Bean Company LLC is now one of very few minority-owned national coffee supply companies in the United States, and it is making a difference in lives across the Atlantic while generating a solid customer base at home.

African Bean Company's success is in part due to Taulbert's imagination. After imagining what his involvement could mean for the lives and livelihood of others, Taulbert made the decision to enter the coffee industry in a big way, despite previously having little coffee experience or expertise. Taulbert says with a smile, "I actually now know the difference between an espresso and a hot cup of decaf."

But Clifton Taulbert will quickly tell anyone who asks that he first imagined what could be, and then he embraced the learning and effort needed in order to bring his vision to life.

As the company grows soundly and solidly, Taulbert will continue telling all the customers he serves, "Because of your cup of Roots Java Coffee, Rwandans are smiling again."