DarNesha Weary is a little tired, but determined. The racial equity consultant and co-owner of Shoreline’s new cafe, Black Coffee Northwest (NW), has been through a lot over the past several weeks, after an arsonist threw molotov cocktails at the shop in the early morning hours of September 30. Weary suspects the incident was a racially-motivated attack (the investigation has been turned over to the FBI, she says), but luckily the damage to the building was minimal. The cafe managed to open for drive-thru service last Saturday, and is planning to hold its grand opening tomorrow, October 17.
“We’re still getting some threats, people questioning why we’re calling ourselves Black Coffee, accusing us of racism,” Weary tells Eater Seattle. “I’m just like, ‘Then just don’t come.’ We still have a large community that supports us.”
To that point, Black Coffee NW will open with ambitions to be not just a spot to grab a great cup of coffee, but also an uplifting community center as well, with social justice work at the forefront. When it opens Saturday, there will be a voter registration drive for adults, as well as a “mock” registration drive for kids, with fun stickers, a DJ, and free masks. The effort will continue up until Washington’s online voter registration deadline October 26.
The nonprofit will also roll out several youth-driven initiatives, including a barista training program, an after-school study hour, and a series of conversations (held via Zoom) revolving around pressing issues. Weary says the “coffee chats” will be sort of like a focus group, and the first talk will revolve around the topic of what to do in the winter for young people who don’t have homes. It’s also hosting a coat drive for the Shoreline area.
Those perusing the menu this weekend will find Ethiopian, Burundi, and Kenyan roasts from the Black-owned Renton company Boona Boona, and beverages with playful names, such as the Supa’ Fly Chai and the Karen (a white chocolate mocha). On the food side, there will be treats from Zuri’s Donutz in Lynnwood, pastries from farm-to-table bakery Salmonberry, and a sweet potato pie made by Weary’s mom. All available for takeout only to start.
Customers have already shown up in droves (Black Coffee NW served 800 people during its drive-thru preview last weekend). But it’s the youth-driven aspect of Black Coffee NW that has Weary so excited. She’s worked with leaders in the community for the past five months as the space came into focus, and many young people showed up after the arson incident to show support, writing messages of love outside the shop in chalk.
“The kids know what to do, they know how to respond,” says Weary.
- Black Coffee NW [Official]
- Black Coffee NW [Instagram]
- Disturbing Arson Attack Delays Opening for New Black-Owned Cafe and Community Center [ESEA]