In what may shape up to be the most radical coffee shop to appear on the Seattle Coffee Scene is Black Coffee Co-op, which is scheduled to open up this coming week on Capitol Hill.
I recently dropped and not only found great coffee being served, but an ample supply of community members painting, hammering, and organizing the space that will soon become the café.
Black Coffee Co-op and its visionaries will ambitiously work to provide space for people to share coffee, work, and hold community meetings in a way that hasn’t been tried for quite some time.
“There is militaristic hierarchy (in the corporate world) – and we’re breaking away from that for the well-being of ourselves,” Scott said, one of the owners, as he serves up an Americano roasted by Kuma Coffee. “We’re going to be the first coop in years where we run our own workplace.”
The baristas and worker-owners are an eclectic and talented bunch who are seeking to redefine what a café should be or how one can be managed – that is, without any bosses.
And who wouldn’t like to work for an organization without any bosses? A questions pops into mind: Can an organization – a café in one of the most competitive markets – be dissembled flatly and function smoothly?
The answer is yes, according to Scott.
“There is a natural tension for (other cafes), because even though they want to be community-oriented there is the tension of the bottom line. We can do it without that classic trap of having to fight for table space,” Scott reasons. Perhaps, he's right. Certainly in an industry where baristas (employees) have have a high turn-over rate maybe Scott is on to something here.
Taking the energy from the recent Seattle Occupy movement that were literally camped up the street a few months back, Scott and his fellow owners have worked hard to create a community-owned concept café that both addresses the needs of the community, its baristas, and its customers: providing space to do whatever you need to do, whether it’s creating great art, excellent coffee, or community events.
Certainly, the space that is the Black Coffee Co-op is quite beautiful, airy, and being painted with a natural palate of brown hues that work to accentuate the natural light that is sure to flush in.
It’s large wooden counter space that is partially covered by an upstairs loft, faces large windows that fold around the café and which are currently covered by paper during the set up – will create a handsome space for visitors and workers.
“We hope to create a space where people can share knowledge and resources,” Scott added.
Call it a social-entrepreneurial experiment of sorts, but whatever it is, I think it adds to the tremendous diversity and speaks to the innovative spirit Seattle has embedded in it. I most definitely like these guys and know that their passion and community inclusiveness will translate to the success they’re after. I intend to support them and will post follow up posts here at SeattleCoffeeScene.com. I recommend you check them out if you can.
Black Coffee Co-op
501 E. Pine St.
Seattle, WA 98122