Renton’s Boon Boona has grown as a roaster and community center bringing African coffee culture and beans to the Pacific Northwest cafe scene.
Soon, you’ll be able to find those beans and community on 12th Ave.
“Boon Boona is how we say coffee,” owner Efrem Fesaha tells CHS. “But I focused on the East African community first, then coffee and an experience that is more culturally aware.”
Boon Boona will open its first Seattle cafe later this year in the 12th Ave space formerly home to Cherry Street Coffee House across from Seattle University and neighboring the 12th Ave Square Park — an open space that could perfect for small events and gatherings that is crying out for a neighbor like Boon Boona.
Boon Boona opened on 3rd Street in Renton’s downtown in 2018 and became a popular venue for musicians and artists.
Fesaha says the path to establishing Boon Boona and growing its business has been a long one.
Moving from a career in finance to becoming an expert in the coffees of Africa and their roasting and preparation took years. Getting those beans into cafes in places like Capitol Hill took just as long as banks were slow to warm to the opportunity. Fesaha says the path began to change when a small Somali-owned grocery near the Tukwila light rail station gave Boon Boona a chance.
It was those East African communities that helped Boon Boona grow into what it is today. “That’s who I served,” Fesaha said.
Now the growing coffee company is ready to expand.
Updating the nine-year-old Cherry Street space will take some time, Fesaha said, but the signs are up and he is hoping for a quick turnaround despite being a small fish in the big pond of Seattle food and drink.
When it opens, the area around the park will be a popular food and drink destination and swirl of flavors. Capitol Hill counter legend Carmelo’s Tacos is also opening its first expansion next door and veteran Ba Bar is now marking its tenth year on the block.
Fesaha is also proud of making a home on 12th Ave not far from where many of his favorite stores and restaurants used to be — and where some continue to thrive.
“A lot of our community lived in that area,” Fesaha said. “It was by chance that a space in that area came available. But it definitely holds much more meaning. It feels good to be back there.”
Boon Boona will open later this year at 1223 E Cherry. You can learn more at boonboonacoffee.com.
HELP KEEP CHS 'PAY WHAT YOU CAN' FOR EVERYONE -- SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Join to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.