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by Alexa Peters
In Shoreline, only 5.9% of the population identifies as Black. Yet with the opening of the new coffee shop and community hub Black Coffee Northwest, Shoreline happens to be the only place in the Seattle area that you can find a coffee drink called “the Karen” — their best-selling white chocolate mocha named after a widespread meme for a particular brand of entitled, cop-calling white lady — from Black baristas trained in anti-racism.
The bold new cafe is the careful design of owners Darnesha and Erwin Weary, who opened Black Coffee NW on October 17 — in spite of the pandemic and an arson attempt — to disrupt Seattle’s white-dominated coffee industry and create an urgently-needed community space that highlights and supports Black lives the North End.
“We want Black Coffee to be a place where people come to have a cup of coffee and … leave having a new thought or idea, or meeting a neighbor that they would have never spoken to, or meeting that Black person they may have grabbed their purse at [on] the street,” said Weary. “In the very fabric of this place, we live and breathe that [mission.]”
Sure enough, racial justice underpins not only the business name, but the way the Wearys vet their vendor relationships, their practice of hiring and training Black baristas, even the handling of the coffee itself. The coffee at Black Coffee is sourced from their wholesaler, Efrem Fesaha, founder and CEO of the Renton-based and Black-owned café Boon Boona, which roasts coffee beans it sources straight from Africa.
“What we found is that there’s not a lot of Black people in [the specialty coffee] space at all. We want to change that,” said Weary. “Every bean of coffee that comes in there, every fork, knife, spoon — everything — we’ve made sure that the people that were creating [them] were socially responsible. So it just lives and breathes.”
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