December 11, 2019
Mohammed and Rahim Diallo founded Ginjan Bros, Inc. in 2015. “The idea is that you can travel the world and hardly find anything from Africa,” explains Rahim of their original inspiration. “We wanted to share the food and drink we grew up on.”
Ginjan, their signature drink, was created from a thousand-year-old recipe that Mohammed and Rahim’s mother used to make when they were growing up in Guinea, West Africa. The original proportions had been transmitted orally over the generations, and once the brothers decided to start their business they spent nearly a year developing and testing it to perfection.
The resulting concoction—a mixture of ginger, pineapple, lemon, vanilla, and anise—is delicious, organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and can be enjoyed hot or cold. It also goes great with cocktails!
Rahim and Mohammed started by packaging and distributing the drink online and via retailers like Whole Foods and Walmart. They also received external support and recognition, including winning the 2016 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest and the 2016 American Entrepreneurship Award. Then they started an equity crowdfunding campaign that allowed friends, family, and supporters to help them realize their dream of expanding to a brick-and-mortar location.
The campaign was successful: A little over two months ago, the Diallos opened their flagship location, The Ginjan Café. Located on a cozy corner in Harlem, the spot boasts a full menu of drinks plus freshly made crepes and African coffee by La Colombe.
Rahim and Mohammed hope that customers will come in off the street looking for coffee and then be intrigued by their specialized offerings, including Bissap (a blend of hibiscus, mint, lemon, and cloves), Attaye (AKA Moroccan mint tea: gunpowder green tea leaves, fresh mint, and caramelized sugar), and Kenkeliba (a caffeine-free herbal tea higher in antioxidants than regular green tea).
“This is something of a test lab,” Rahim explains, adding that they aim to eventually offer more grab-and-go options including soups, sandwiches, salads, and lunch bowls. They also hope to eventually open more locations, as well as host live music and other events. In the meantime, you can stop by 85 East 125th St., shop their offerings online, or follow along on Instagram. Thank you, Rahim and Mohammed!