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Renton’s Rising Coffee Star Boon Boona Is Coming to Capitol Hill

The new cafe will open later this year with a continued focus on African roasts

Topdown view of a berbere latte from Boona Boona with two cups nearby containing spices and other ingredients
A berbere latte from Boon Boona
Jeriel Calamayan

The Capitol Hill coffee scene is about to get an exciting new resident. Renton’s Boon Boona — a growing two-year old cafe and roastery — will soon debut its first Seattle location in the neighborhood. The shop will be located at 1223 Cherry Street, replacing the Cherry Street Coffee House, and aims to open at some point this spring.

Boon Boona founder Efrem Fesaha has honed his vision for the business over the past couple of years. The Eritrean-born, Seattle-raised roaster left a career in finance behind after a trip to his family’s homeland inspired him to honor the robust East African coffee culture here in the US. He soon began sourcing and selling green coffee from Ethiopia and, in 2018, opened up the large Renton spot, which not only became a popular place for made-to-order espresso and lattes, but also a gathering space for local musicians and artists before the pandemic.

As Fesaha developed the roastery, he established partnerships with farms in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, and other African countries, and focused on supporting woman-owned growers. The retail operation has since expanded, and Shoreline’s new cafe Black Coffee Northwest serves the shop’s products.

Boon Boona’s Seattle spot is a big step for the young business, and the plan is to make it as much of a community hub as the Renton outpost, with an eye on organizing live musical performances, when allowed, perhaps even utilizing the nearby city park. Fesaha says the menu will remain largely the same, serving up seasonal drinks (there’s been a popular berbere latte and chicory-flavored syrup made on site in Renton), and he hopes to boost the food menu through collaborations with local businesses from marginalized communities.

Having grown up not far from the Cherry Street spot where the new cafe will be located, Fesaha is also feeling a wave of nostalgia as he finalizes details for the shop. “Lots of Eritrean and Ethiopian businesses used to be in the area and started to move away,” he says. “But this neighborhood reminds me of my childhood.”

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