Tag Archives: coffee shop

Boon Boona Brings Coffee’s African Roots to Capitol Hill

by Alexa Peters


In 2016, Black coffee professional Michelle Johnson in an article titled, “The Black Cup of Excellence: Being Black in Specialty Coffee,” wrote the following: 

“Specialty coffee is a progressive industry, but being Black in a community majority of [w]hites still lends itself to the same oppression felt across multiple industries in our country and around the world.”

The article, which has since been taken down, shook the coffee industry to its core, and it began an industry-wide conversation that has intensified since the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 and has prompted more industry experts to speak out against what coffee writer Umeko Motoyoshi calls “anti-blackness in specialty coffee.” From her perspective, the industry’s persistent racism is born largely from its reluctance to acknowledge and learn about the African roots of coffee itself.

That’s where Efrem Fesaha, the owner of Seattle’s Boon Boona Coffee, comes in. Raised in West Seattle as the son of two Eritrean immigrants, Fesaha has spent the last three years establishing his Renton and Capitol Hill coffee shops dedicated to spreading the rich African coffee history to local java aficionados.

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The Pandemic Turned a Neighborhood Cafe Into Columbia City’s Only Record Store

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Like many other cafes, Columbia City’s Empire Roasters and Records had to make some changes in order to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. While some coffee shops expanded their offerings to include grocery items or wines during lockdown, Empire went a different direction. Owner Ian Peters repurposed the cafe’s upstairs seating area into a record shop, which opened last November. Adding a record store to a cafe might have been an unconventional choice, but based on the positive community response, Columbia City’s only record store is here to stay. 

“We would have never come up with this idea had it not been for the pandemic,” Peters said. 

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Community Ramps Up Support for Vietnamese-Owned Coffeeholic House Robbed Last Saturday

by Ronnie Estoque


Chen Dien, owner of Coffeeholic House in Columbia City, knew something was wrong when he received a phone call from his mom last Saturday morning notifying him that the store’s front door had been opened before the business day had begun.

“My heart just dropped,” Dien said. “The key box was destroyed and the key inside was gone. The cash drawer was broken, and all the money was gone.”

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Coffee in the Time of COVID: Geetu Vailoor Takes On Central District’s Union Coffee

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Coffee professional Geetu Vailoor had never thought about owning a café, but in February the idea was pitched to her by the owner of Union Coffee, who was looking to pass the business on to someone else. After some rigorous soul-searching, Vailoor said yes. Previous owner Zach Reinig closed the shop on March 15, and on March 19 Vailoor reopened the Central District café as her own. The turnkey operation happened right as Washintgon imposed a stay-at-home mandate. Seated service was put to a halt by March 22. For some cafés, COVID-19 has meant temporary or even permanent closures — but Geetu has remained open for takeout coffee and pastries throughout the pandemic.

“I never expected anything like what is happening right now,” Vailoor remembered. “I think I wanted to be super optimistic. I reached out to SBA to get a small business mentor, and all of them were like, ‘Don’t do this. This is crazy. You should not be taking over a small business right now, especially one that’s a commodity product.’ I just believed it would work out. I just had a feeling.” 

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Hillman City’s Onda Origins Cafe & Roastery Serves Food and Flowers from Local Farmers

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Onda Origins Cafe & Roastery has turned their flagship cafe into a general store for local farmers, whose revenues have been hit hard by the closure of Seattle’s farmers markets. Although COVID-19 has shut down all but essential businesses, Onda remains open for take-out beverages and wholesale coffee, initiating partnerships with other local producers to sell their products. The company’s mission of connecting consumers to coffee producers has broadened to include connecting local farmers with the Hillman City community.

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