An inside look at Black Coffee Northwest

‘We need change in this community…and you’ve got to start somewhere.’


by Angelo Harper

Black Coffee NW owners Erwin and DarNesha Weary inside their shop.

When you live in Shoreline or the      Seattle area in general, it feels      like there is a Starbucks on every block, whether it’s in a strip mall, inside a grocery store, or just its own building. It makes sense considering that cafes are great environments both productively and socially. They give people a space to study, chat with friends, and enjoy delicious drinks and pastries. 

While it may be more convenient to just simply go to a nearby Starbucks- after all, there are several locations in the Shoreline area alone- what a lot of people don’t realize is that by buying from local businesses, you are supporting local families, farmers, and ethical distributors. 

 A place that prides itself on providing not only quality beverages and pastries but also a cultural safe haven is right up the street from Shorewood, and that place is called Black Coffee Northwest. Black Coffee Northwest’s mission statement, which can be found on their website, states that they’re a “proactive and innovative community building through youth leadership development. We do this by integrating creativity, exemplifying excellence, and meeting the needs of the community.”

Black Coffee Northwest, owned by DarNesha Weary and her husband Erwin, is run by a Black family. “Coffee to me is something that brings people together, it’s a neutral place where you can have conversation and see people from all walks of life,” said Weary. Weary grew up in South Seattle in a predominantly African-American community until middle school and then moved to Lynwood which at the time was predominantly white. Weary stayed in the area throughout her high school years, founding a Black Student Union club at Meadowdale High School.

Black Coffee NW brings a sense of community to the coffee and food with everything being locally sourced. “Our coffee is our own whole beans, and it’s roasted in downtown Seattle,” Weary explained. “All of our food is locally sourced from local farmers and farming communities and they’re all sustainable and ethical. We do not do any business with people with unethical practices.” 

Weary believed that there needed to be a place in the Shoreline area for people of color to meet and share ideas and creativity. “I still had a need for this gathering place for Black people out here. A lot of people don’t think that we’re out here. There’s just not a place for us to go and be and hang out.” Weary wanted a place where young people of color could be themselves so she, along with her husband, ultimately decided to buy the building on Aurora Avenue that would become Black Coffee Northwest. “We decided to be here because we need change in this community and this world and you’ve got to start somewhere,” she said.  

A business is never easy to run, however, and this has been no exception for Black Coffee NW. The new business was met with a lot of racist threats and acts of vandalism, including multiple windows being busted out and an arson attempt the night before they were supposed to open back in September of 2020. “Those things take a financial toll, but they are also an emotional toll and it’s exhausting to have to deal with that,” said Weary. 

Despite these constant attacks, Black Coffee has managed to stay open and serve as a place where the youth in our community can gather and inspire individuality and creativity and this is done through their many youth programs that they offer. “I believe that Black youth are the most creative and 

smartest group ever, but we don’t have a place to let all that energy out,” said Weary. Black Coffee offers music programs and free mental health counseling with free male and female therapists of color and they also feature art made by young artists from the community.