Coffee is an integral part of contemporary culture in the Pacific Northwest. However, it has been woven into the fabric of life in East Africa for centuries.
“The word ‘coffee’ derives from the name of a town in Ethiopia called Kaffa. Additionally, Kaffa, Ethiopia is the home of Arabica coffee beans “Efrem Fesaha, founder and CEO of Boon Boona Coffee, stated.
With its flagship roastery and cafe in downtown Renton and another in Seattle, Boon Boona celebrates Eritrea’s and Ethiopia’s vibrant coffee cultures.
“The terms ‘boon’ and ‘boona’ are actually how East Africans refer to coffee,” Fesaha explained. “Saying Boon Boona Coffee sounds nice on the tongue, but it’s actually a way of saying coffee in a few different languages and paying homage to its origins.”
Fesaha was raised in Seattle. He was employed in corporate finance at the time of his 2011 trip to Eritrea, which inspired him to pursue his passion for coffee.
“Coffee is consumed socially in the Eritrean Ethiopian culture. It’s with your family, friends, and loved ones. Thus, it is this same type of experience that we have in our homes that I wished to bring to a cafe setting “Fesaha stated.
All of the coffee served at Boon Boona is roasted and sourced directly from Africa. Fesaha and his team collaborate closely with producers from across Africa. This, he explained, enables Boon Boona to share a greater portion of its profits directly with growers while also contributing to the overall growth of the coffee industry.
“We have excellent relationships, particularly in Burundi, Ethiopia, and Rwanda, where we work with all female producers and owners,” Fesaha explained. “We want to continue highlighting and directing the story in that direction so they gain recognition and more people consume and purchase coffee from these incredible producers and countries.”
Fesaha is channelling the spirit of Eritrea and Ethiopian coffee shops at the Renton roastery and cafe by transforming it into a community gathering place. There is space for events and pop-ups by local small businesses, as well as a dedicated area for the traditional East African coffee ceremony, which is how the majority of people in the region consume their daily coffee.
“We continue to roast, grind, and brew our own coffee at home in the diaspora. If I brought a bag of our Boon Boona roasted coffee to my mother, she would look at me and ask, ‘What is this?’ She desires the shade of green. She desires the raw material. She desires roasting it. She desires to pulverise it. She wishes to brew it in our jebena brewing pot. It takes between an hour and three hours. It enables a slightly longer process and a more profound, richer type of experience “Fesaha stated.
Of course, the majority of visitors to Boon Boona stop in for a moment or two to grab a quick coffee. While sipping that delectable cup, Fesaha hopes his customers will delve a little deeper into the coffee itself.
“We want people to walk away with a better understanding of the coffee’s journey. And then, you know, have some fun with it. That is, there is nothing more enjoyable to do with coffee than to drink it.”