URL Coffee introduces a design-savvy café on First Hill

Over a year in the making, URL Coffee features a specialty coffee menu, plans for a future in-house food program, and an eye for design. URL’s shelves and table are by Italian designer Enzo Mari (Image: URL Coffee)

The playful, design-forward URL Coffee at 524 Broadway just opened in mid-March, and despite being sandwiched between a couple other cafe options at Sharetea and QED Coffee, URL is already carving out a unique space on First Hill. Launched by wife and husband duo Zoey Jung and Ethan Choi, URL aims to provide a “healthy pleasure,” that begins with coffee, and expands beyond just caffeination alone.

Jung studied art in South Korea, running an art studio there, and Choi worked as a vintage designer furniture collector, but both had shared interests in coffee and food. After they moved to Seattle, they started searching for a café location in November 2019. After three months, they decided on the roughly 1400 square foot space on Broadway, signed the lease, and shortly after that, the pandemic hit. Jung said they endured “endless delays, in every single step” of the buildout.

Now open for business over a year later, either for takeout or limited seating at 25% capacity, the café boasts a stylish interior of eclectic tastes.

“We wanted to create a unique mood at URL by gathering the beauty that we have imagined, all in one place,” Jung said. “We mixed mid century modern designer furniture with contemporary furniture . . . URL presents new beauty by bringing together old, established things, Eastern and Western things, and things from different times and spaces.” Continue reading

Cafe Avole brings Ethiopian coffee tradition to the Liberty Bank Building

(Image: Cafe Avole)

Cafe Avole is hard at work building out their second location in the Liberty Bank Building, joining other Black-owned businesses like Earl’s Cuts and Communion in development around 23rd and Union.

Ethiopian-owned, Cafe Avole sources, roasts, and sells high-grade coffees from Yirga Ch’Efe and Guji. Cafe Avole launched their flagship store in 2016 at the corner of Rainier Ave S and S Holly in Seattle’s Brighton neighborhood. The cafe offers Ethiopian food, community pop-ups, and, in pre-pandemic times, jebena, a central part of the coffee ceremony for Ethiopian and Eritrean households. The second location in the Liberty Bank Building is slated to open in May or June, depending on the progress of the buildout.

“We started our initial conversation [with the Liberty Bank Building] in 2018, right before the building was complete,” said Solomon Dubie, co-owner of Cafe Avole along with Gavin Amos and Getachew Enbiale. “We were supposed to try to get in there shortly thereafter, but things got held up, and then COVID hit. It was postponed for a little while.” Continue reading

With ‘Mother Africa’s finest coffees,’ Boon Boona coming to 12th Ave

(Image: Boon Boona)

(Image: Boon Boona)

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 Parkan 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. Continue reading

Kitanda to bring Brazilian lattes — and Brazilian cheese bread — to Broadway to start 2021

(Image: Kitanda)

2021 will bring a massive burst of activity to the area around Capitol Hill Station. The newest location of Eastside-born Brazilian coffee chain Kitanda will put a corner space across from it into motion just in time to be part of the changes.

While your favorite Brazilian might be excited about a coffee shop dedicated to a South American focus on darker, stronger flavors and Kitanda’s acai selections, let’s be real. What they’re really going to be excited about, general manager Laura Alves Ferreira  admits, is the cheese bread, a staple of the culture’s breakfast and morning snacks.

Though the Brazilian lattes with sweet condensed milk will also hold their own, Alves Ferreira says. Continue reading

A frequent target during Capitol Hill protests, E Olive Way Starbucks reopening

Downtown and Capitol Hill locations of the Starbucks chain are reopening after weeks of closures amid bouts of regular property damage from protest groups targeting the Seattle-based coffee giant.

A call to the E Olive Way location confirmed that the store is open again on a limited schedule after what the manager said was a five-week closure. For now, it is open only on weekdays but weekend hours are planned to be restored after November 30th. For now, the shop is also takeout and delivery only.

Most questions about the closures needed to be answered by Starbucks media relations, the manager told CHS. The company has not replied to multiple inquiries from CHS in recent weeks.

The company has said it is also making changes to its locations to add better spaces for mobile ordering and pickup “due to a retail environment that has shifted because of COVID-19 and to meet the already evolving customer needs of convenience.” The E Olive shop was closed for weeks late this summer for an overhaul following that announcement.

Continue reading

Union Coffee, under new ownership and out to curb the narrative in the Central District

Sky Iraheta (left), Geetu Vailoor (center) and Felix Kim Trần (right) (Image: Union Coffee)

At the height of spring COVID-19 uncertainty, one thing was certain for coffee connoisseur Geetu Vailoor: she was about to become the owner of a specialty coffee shop.

“I know the narrative around the Central District is that it has been quite gentrified, and when I think about speciality coffee and coffee shops in general they tend to be a sign of gentrification,” Vailoor said. “I’d like to curb that narrative and rewrite that because I think that coffee is for everyone.”

Four-year-old Union Coffee, located just a block east of 23rd and Union, has a new owner — and also a new outdoor patio to add to its takeout offerings along with wine bottleservice added to the coffee and pastry menu. You can add the new mission to the list.

Vailoor took over the business just a few days after state coronavirus restrictions barred in-store seating at the end of March. She initially got in touch with Union Coffee’s founder Zack Reinig, spouse of Molly Moon Neitzel of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, during her days as a wholesale manager at Boon Boona Coffee in Renton. After learning he was looking to sell Union Coffee, Vailoor decided to take her years of coffee experience to the next level as the business’s new owner. Continue reading

AT&T pulls the plug on its Capitol Hill ‘Lounge’ retail experiment and Ada’s Discovery Cafe

The AT&T Lounge and Ada’s Discovery Cafe (Image: CHS)

Telecommunications giant AT&T has ended its Capitol Hill experiment. The Lounge by AT&T and Ada’s Discovery Cafe will not reopen as COVID-19 restrictions are slowly lifted.

“With more customers shopping online, we are closing a small percentage of our retail stores to reflect our customers’ shopping practices,” Jim Kimberly, director of corporate communications for AT&T, tells CHS. “While these plans are not new, they have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Ada’s owner Danielle Hulton confirmed the closure, telling CHS that AT&T’s decision to shutter the store meant the end of the cafe. Continue reading

Fuel to join Ada’s family, adding books to blend of coffee, community

(Image: Fuel Coffee)

(Image: Fuel Coffee)

It’s a blend that should work out, mixing the 15-year-old creation of a Seattle coffee veteran  with the energy of two Capitol Hill entrepreneurs who have a vision for growing cafe communities and independent book retail.

Fuel Coffee and its three locations in the 19th Ave E Stevens neighborhood, Montlake, and Wallingford is becoming part of the Ada’s family of bookshops and cafes. The merger is the outgrowth of conversations that started well before the outbreak and is ready to move forward now that reopening plans are taking shape, both sides say. It’s now a vision that seems even more clear after weeks of COVID-19 restrictions with neighbors sticking mostly to their nearby streets.

“Community is even more important,” Danielle Hulton says.

The new Fuel will be a flip of how the original Ada’s was shaped on 15th Ave E. Ada’s is a community built around books — Fuel shops will be built around coffee. Continue reading

Signs of Capitol Hill normalcy: Vivace returns — Plus, Capitol Hill’s COVID-19 ‘Phase 1’ takeout cocktails

(Image: Espresso Vivace)

This week started with another step toward normalcy on Capitol Hill — Espresso Vivace is back open:

Vivace will open it’s Brix location at 532 Broadway Ave. E. tomorrow morning at 7 AM for coffee to go. In addition Alley24 will be open at 10 AM both of which close at 5 PM. 321 Broadway,our sidewalk bar, will open on Saturday.

Hope you can make an announcement for our devoted customers

Ty

David

The heart and soul of Capitol Hill craft coffee for more than 30 years, Vivace joins the hardworking core of neighborhood coffee joints that have been pulling shots and foaming oat milk throughout the outbreak. Feel free to add a thankful shoutout to your favorite in comments.

As Capitol Hill food and drink gears up for the challenges and opportunities coming in the transition to “Phase 2” restrictions for restaurants and bars, an in-between period could carry on for a long while as your favorite neighborhood joints try to recover with creative — and tasty — “to go” creations. Continue reading

18th Ave’s Tougo Coffee one of the first confirmed Capitol Hill and Central District business casualties of the COVID-19 crisis

(Image: Tougo Coffee)

When it comes to the life of Capitol Hill and Central District businesses, we might not know with certainty about any sad passings until the COVID-19 crisis subsides.

Two neighborhood cafes are closing this week — one is clearly saying goodbye while the other’s fate is obscured by the fog of the crisis.

The Central District’s Tougo Coffee will become one of the area’s first confirmed business casualties of the COVID-19 crisis. Owner Brian Wells announced his decision Wednesday: Continue reading