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As we enter the new year, there’s one thing that’s already clear: We’re going to need our energy to get through it. And what could be more energizing than a carefully crafted cup of coffee from a local South Seattle coffee shop?
Independent coffee shops are so much more than the coffee they serve. Pre-pandemic, they were our go-to meeting spots when we wanted to catch up with a loved one, community organizing spaces, and where we set up our office for the day. It may be awhile until we can fully embrace everything these special neighborhood spaces have to offer, but for now, we can still enjoy a delicious drink made by people who genuinely care.
Coffee and art are a naturally occurring combo, especially among South Seattle companies Café Avole and Paradice Avenue Souf. The Ethiopian-owned café partnered with the South End clothing store and creative agency to release a limited-edition, single-origin Yirgacheffe coffee on December 22. With beans sourced from Yirga Ch’Efe, located in the province of Sidamo, Ethiopia, and artwork by Paradice’s Ari Glass, the result speaks on many levels about the birthplace of coffee, the significance of it passing through the hands of South Seattle communities — many of which hail from coffee-producing countries — and being interpreted by South End artists.
The owners of four beloved South Seattle cafes — Beach Bakery, Cafe Avole, Cafe Red, and The Station — recount the stories of their opening, discuss the impact of the pandemic, and look cautiously towards the future.
Beach Bakery’s proprietor, Amy O’Connell, has been around the block and back in food service, whether it’s waiting tables, cooking diner food, bartending, washing dishes, or cooking gourmet cuisine. She’s sought further insight, travelling on a shoestring budget to experience the food cultures of various countries in Europe and provinces of Mexico. Amy’s also been to hell and back. Fortunately for the South End, she eventually figured out exactly how she wanted to express herself in the industry: “The more down to earth, the more comfortable food is, the more comforting food is, the better I am with it, and the better I am sharing it with other people.”
When Kevin Nguyen’s independent produce stand in South Seattle was set ablaze last week, his first reaction was to close up shop and leave the city. It was the fourth time in the past month that a fire was intentionally set on the property — part of a recent string of arsons around Rainier Avenue South — and Nguyen’s patience was wearing thin.