It’s a big week for coffee lovers on Capitol Hill. Renton’s hugely popular cafe Boon Boona has now opened its first Seattle location at 1223 Cherry Street near Seattle University, with a menu that highlights single-origin African roasts. In addition to drip coffee and beans for retail, there are also some seasonal lattes and other drinks available, flavored with ingredients such as hand-whisked matcha and syrups made onsite.
The shop’s founder Efrem Fesaha is an Eritrean-born, Seattle-raised roaster, who left a career in finance behind after a trip to his family’s homeland inspired him to pursue his coffee dreams. He soon began sourcing and selling green coffee beans from Ethiopia and, in 2018, opened up an expansive Renton cafe, which quickly became a gathering space for the community. Boon Boona has developed a robust retail operation in partnership with farms throughout Africa (including Rwanda, Burundi, and Kenya), and expanded its reach in the Seattle area over the past three years. Locals might even recognize the shop from a recent Washington state department of health commercial that encourages COVID safety measures, starring former Seahawks Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse.
Boon Boona will initially focus mainly on takeout, but there’s also an outdoor patio with limited seating available, too. Fesaha tells Eater Seattle that he’ll start doing some pop-ups this summer “if things improve with COVID,” and he’s hoping to add some booze to the menu eventually, featuring wine and Metier Brewery beer. Once things ramp up, expect some live musical performances and events that might utilize the nearby outdoor area and park this summer. As different offerings rotate into the mix, Fesaha — who grew up not too far from the cafe’s location — will look to develop more collaborations with local businesses.
While the new space isn’t quite as large as the Renton spot, the atmosphere retains a similar vibrancy and look, with a colorful mural by local mixed media artist Perri Rhoden and depictions of Jebenas (traditional clay coffee pots) emblazoned on the dark wood walls. Fesaha also says the cafe will occasionally showcase the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, a slow, intricate process of preparing and brewing beans that invites socialization. Hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.