Local catering business sells one of the best coffee cakes this side of the West Coast.
By Brian W. Carter, Sentinel Staff Writer
The word around the jungle gym is, if you haven’t had a Schoolyard Coffee Cake, then you’re missing out. Cinnamon Brown Sugga Co. (CBSC) is selling a whole lot of goodies in the area. Francelia & Stephen James, and her sister, Velda Hunter, are the people behind the treats at CBSC.
James, a Los Angeles native, has been a cosmetologist and a teacher. She has taught elementary through college classes at various schools in the Los Angeles district. She considers herself an entrepreneur by trade.
“I did the hair thing, had my own business,” said James. “I went from there into education.
“I saw the need for our kids and stayed within the community.”
James is still involved in education by helping to train other teachers. She said that this was her way of giving back to the community. Her husband, Stephen, a former instructor at L.A. Trade Tech, lost his job due to downsizing and found himself at a crossroads. He would return to one of his passions—cooking.
“That’s one of the reasons I fell in love with him,” said James. “The man can make a mean waffle!”
Stephen would return to the world of teaching and it wasn’t until his birthday that he stumbled onto an idea. He didn’t want an ordinary cake—he wanted a coffee cake. They would get a recipe for a coffee cake being made in the classes at the school.
“He made it and it was good,” said James. “He kept tweaking it, kept working at it—adding this, taking away…”
James would buy a special ingredient by accident that would be the missing key to their coffee cake recipe. She couldn’t say what it was as it’s a trade secret. Nevertheless, the coffee cake was now a hit.
“The ‘Aha” moment was after church,” said James. “Somebody’s hand [raised] during the benediction and they said, ‘I want to know if there are any coffee cakes?’”
It was at that moment when James and her husband knew they had a hit. They would begin making the coffee cakes in a commercial kitchen and selling them everywhere.
“People started feening, they started literally coming,” said James. “It went kind of—nuts.
“We’ve got people from Fontana… Ontario—to get a coffee cake.”
They decided to try their hand at the Taste of Soul festival one year. They sold out of the coffee cakes quicker than they could supply them.
“We would take a basket out and before they could get out—they were gone,” said James.
CBSC would begin distributing their coffee cakes at 7-Eleven stores in Carson and in other locations. They are currently selling their coffee cakes in and throughout the Los Angeles area.
They sell more than coffee cakes at CBSC—old fashioned Rice Custard, Peach and Apple Cobbler, Sweet Potato Pie and Banana pudding.
They also have a variety of coffee cakes on their menu, which they introduced at Taste of Soul. They offer Monkey Bars, which is a banana-nut coffee cake, Peanut Butter Surpise, which has nuts, peanut butter and chocolate, Peanut Butter coffee cake, Preschool, which is a reduced sugar coffee cake and their classic Schoolyard coffee cake. James says she’s entertaining a new kind of coffee cake.
The sad news is that CBSC will be leaving the Los Angeles area soon for more opportunities.
“We will be traveling to Texas initially,” said James
CBSC will be leaving Los Angeles; CA July 22 but there is light at the end of the tunnel. They are currently working on a way to ship their products from their new location. So if you need that coffee cake—they’ll get it to you.
You can contact Cinnamon Brown Sugga Co. by phone: (323) 493-0939