To say that Black Coffee Northwest, a new Shoreline-based Black-owned coffee shop, has had a tumultuous first six months would be an understatement.
Last October, right before their grand opening in the middle of a pandemic, Black Coffee Northwest was the victim of a racially motivated Molotov cocktail attack. Only a month ago, their property was defaced with swastikas. At the same time, the line for their drive-thru consistently wraps around the block, and concerned community members are actively donating money, supplies, and even volunteering to keep watch in the shop’s parking lot to prevent future attacks.
“We have people that are supporting us, people that are showing up. It’s also showing that there are people that … want this community to be better,” said Black Coffee Northwest co-owner Darnesha Weary. “And that pisses [our opponents] off even more.”
Vietnam is the world’s second largest coffee-producing country, a fact largely unknown to most consumers, though that is changing for those who visit Hello Em Viet Coffee & Roastery. Hello Em is Seattle’s first Vietnamese coffee roastery. Co-owners Yenvy Pham and Nghia Bui carefully oversee every part of the process from sourcing and importing beans from Kon Tum and Buôn Ma Thuột to roasting in house on a Neuhaus Neotec air roaster. The roasted beans make up their signature coffees: the anh roast, a single origin robusta, and em roast, an arabica blend of coffees from Vietnam, Oaxaca, and Ethiopia.
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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.
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.”