Post navigation

Prev: (09/14/16) | Next: (09/14/16)

Union Coffee opens in the Central District

14115604_1039617212801708_1314860296832474052_oThe artists papering the neighborhood with anti-gentrification “karmic infraction” notices missed an obvious target. There is now a fancy latte shop just down the E Union hill from 23rd and neighboring a cannabis shop. No, the other cannabis shop.

Union Coffee opened Tuesday and is now serving lattes, Americanos, and more brewed from Victrola beans and backed by the business acumen of Zack Reinig who helped spouse Molly Moon Neitzel grow her Seattle ice cream empire.

Reinig said while the activists passed over the shop now open at 2407 E Union he has plans to try honor at least one important part of the Central District’s place in Black Seattle — its music. He hopes the upper loft can turn into a space to host what he calls “sessions” featuring local musicians — especially some of the old timers who still call the Seattle area home.

During morning and midday hours, the loft will give laptop jockeys in the neighborhood a place to work. The clean, bright space was designed by architect Jen Duhamel with help from Linda Derschang. Linda is apparently into clean walls and big squishy leather couches these days. The shop is currently open 7 AM to 6 PM and also serves baked goods and yogurt bowls.

Union Coffee sports the same employment structure and benefits that have been much-lauded at Molly Moon’s. For now, Reinig has a simple plan for Union Coffee success. “I just want to keep above water for a year or so until the next giant building comes,” Reinig said, well aware of the wave of development crashing down at 23rd and Union. Union Coffee makes its home in The Stencil, itself a brand new, four-story, mixed-use development. Its neighbor Feed Co. Burgers, from the Staples family behind Quinn’s Pub, remains under construction.

UPDATE: We’ve done it in past posts so might as well include a reminder here that the area is also home to a handful of coffee shops including nearby Cortona, Katy’s Corner, Tougo, and, down 23rd, 701 Coffee. Meanwhile, salon + coffee shop Squirrel Chops is coming soon to E Union at 22nd.

Union Coffee is located at 2407 E Union. You can learn more at

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

23 thoughts on “Union Coffee opens in the Central District

  1. The owner of this shop saying he wants to support black culture with his coffee shop is ludicrous.

    Contradiction abound as does the naval gazing of people like white Uncle Ike selling legal weed on the corner where so many black men were arrested for possession.

    There is already a coffee shop on that block, with a loft to work in, that if your goal is to support Black Businesses, then support it. CORTONA COFFEE. Since it is actually owned by a neighborhood local and a black woman and has been there for quite sometime before this white savior rode in on his high horse.

    This is gentrification at its most arrogant.

    • Gentrification or not, I’m a supporter of Cortona Coffee for the simple reason that I’ve been going there for years and I like them! It’s a tough sell when one independent business essentially has to take customers from another in order to survive and I’m curious to see if Union draws from the neighborhood as a whole, or primarily from the new development. I wish Union the best of luck, but I’ll stick to the corner.

    • “…Uncle Ike selling legal weed on the corner where so many black men were arrested for possession.”

      it’s not contradiction, it’s change. once it was illegal to possess weed and you could get arrested for it. now, it’s no longer illegal to possess and sell it. someone (sorry he’s white) saw an opportunity and opened a store to sell a legal product.

    • Yeah, this is the stupidest logic ever. What should we do, then?
      1. make weed illegal again, so we can go back to having young black men get arrested for dealing weed again? or
      2. have everyone stand back and wait till only minorities men and women (who may have no credit histories or experience running businesses) open their weed stores? Meanwhile, while we wait, refer to option #1 above.

      In all likelihood there are alraedy open weed shops run in whole or as joint ventures with minority + non-minority stakeholders. Nobody would be well-served by weed shops opening then closing. That could ruin the whole ball fo wax for everybody.

  2. As CDResident said, this guy’s whole “honoring the CD’s place in Black Seattle” is asinine. If you’re about honoring/supporting Black Seattle in the CD, maybe don’t open a new business within a few hundred feet of an existing Black-owned business and put yourself in direct competition with them.

    I also wish we could get a little more variety from these new 23rd/24th and Union buildings: apparently, you can get away with 10 parking spaces for 100 units, but you MUST ensure at least 1 coffee-related business opens on your ground floor.

    • To be fair, those are my words describing Reinig’s plans about music. He talked with me a few times about his desire to find neighborhood musicians from the past to be part of the sessions.

    • Regardless about the tangent of parking…it would be really nice if somebody would open something a bit more original than yet another ****ing coffeehouse. “I just can’t find a good cup of coffee around here! We need a new coffeehouse!” (said nobody….)

    • @Jim – I would love for there to be more hardware stores, or bookstores, or toy shops, instead of more cafes – but I don’t think those places can afford the exorbitant rents in new buildings, or the time it takes to build a customer base, unfortunately.

    • Genevieve, I agree those things would be great but definitely harder to pull off. I’d even settle for (yet another) thai, pho, taco, or teriyaki joint, for chrissakes. I’m just commenting on the over-abundance of coffee shops. We have enough, already.

  3. The community at Cortona is great! I often get coffee more than I should b/c of the awesome staff. I consider them friends, and am happy to support a female, minority owned business.

    That said, I am acquaintances with Union Coffee owner, Zack, and he is a nice guy. It’d be great if the author could update the first paragraph to be his words and not Zack’s, vs. doing it in the comments. Something to know is that Zack worked in the music industry and supports local sounds. Having musicians from the CD in the café supports both local music and the neighborhood where his business is located.

    Some food for thought. Those of us who frequent Cortona were saddened when the property was on the market and for sale, leaving Cortona’s future in limbo. However, this possible loss was public knowledge, and it indicated that the block could handle a new coffee shop. Given how active real estate sales have been, who’d a thought the place wouldn’t have sold? I believe that there are a lot of moving parts behind the scenes that we the general public are not aware of.

    These are two different places with different vibes. With all the new development and tons more foot traffic coming in, how is this any different than Victrola, Ada’s, and Ladro all being so close to each other on 15th? You go to whichever place resonates with you. A bit of respectful competition isn’t a bad thing as it will keep both businesses at their best. Both can and will thrive.

    Let us not forget that there were already three coffee shops-Cortona, Katy’s, Tougo- within walking distance on Union; also Queen Bee on Madison, Starbucks in Safeway, and Fuel over by Miller Park. Apparently Seattle folk like coffee.

    It’d be great if these two business owners could get together and call a truce, maybe even make a statement, b/c apparently patrons are creating a war. If there’s bad blood it’s going to kill the vibe and hurt both small businesses. This is the opposite of community. I want to happily frequent them both, likely drinking more coffee and spending more.

  4. Awesome! Can’t wait to try their coffee and yes I’ll still frequent Cortona as they have great waffles, coffee and service. There’s no reason both joints can’t coexist. I’m so sick of this ‘white people and their white businesses ruining our neighborhood’ rhetoric. The CD has been home to many different races over the years and is always changing and evolving just like every other neighborhood and suburb in this area. Embrace it.

  5. Whoa, hold your horses people… I was responding the article portraying the owner of Union Coffee spot as espousing to wanting to support black culture but then opening up a business in direct competition with a black owned business… just noting the hypocrisy in that…but in the comment it turns out wasn’t even the owners words but the authors “insert”. So there we go. Hooray for “journalism” stoking fires where there arent any.

  6. The point of my general musing was on people’s lack of consideration of their own contradiction in general. Like Ike’s is a contradiction in history in this place. That is all, an observation. Im not saying, hey don’t do business or knock all down. (although rallying to commute sentences of people in jail for possession would be a start)

  7. Personally I like to chose which businesses I spend my money at, hence why I pay attention to what a business owner says and does, politically in the press and in the public. It would be nice if people’s words were reported as theirs or not theirs.

  8. Ive seen business owners project one thing and do some really shitty political things that are counter to their brand. Id rather not spend money in place that doesn’t live up to the values they are asking me to believe in.Which I’m not saying Union is doing… just trying to share, in dialogue, my logic and why in particular the way this article was written made me sit up and share an observation.