"Boon" and "Boona" are both words that mean "coffee" in different languages of East Africa. And at Boon Boona, we're committed to sharing the unique coffee and coffee traditions of this region — and to supporting coffee growers and our local community in the process.
Growing up in Seattle, Boon Boona founder and CEO Efrem Fesaha was familiar with the experience of large coffee chains. Coming from an Eritrean family, he also grew up with the traditional coffee ceremony performed by Eritreans and Ethiopians, which is the way that many people from this region prepare their daily cup of coffee.
In 2011, Efrem traveled to Asmara, Eritrea, and he fell in love with the local coffee culture. The café experience there was unlike anything he'd seen back in Seattle: The cafes were filled with the scent of freshly roasted coffee and provided a welcoming community environment at the same time.
Returning home with newfound joy and excitement, Efrem set out to put his own mark on the coffee industry. After his initial business plan to open an East African coffee shop was rejected by banks, Efrem didn't give up, and instead pivoted to sourcing quality green coffee from Ethiopia for East African communities in the U.S.
Soon his family and friends discovered that they could purchase quality green coffee from him. And since drinking coffee in East African culture is something you often do with others rather than by yourself, word spread fast, and before long, his coffee was being distributed in stores across the West Coast.
By 2016, following the requests of American friends who prefer roasted coffee, Efrem began experimenting with his own roasting techniques. This, too, took off, and he partnered with Seattle's Anchorhead Coffee Roasters to have his coffee roasted. Two years later, the Boon Boona Roastery and Café was born.
Today, Boon Boona has formed long-lasting, sustainable relationships with coffee producers, exporters and importers in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, and many more African nations, with a focus on supporting woman-owned growers. This means that we're not only able to source some of the best coffee from Africa, but we're also able to share a larger share of our profits directly with the growers, while helping develop the African coffee industry.
In keeping with the spirit of East African coffee shops, we also work to foster a community environment at our café, and we're proud to provide an inclusive space for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized individuals. We're constantly thinking up ways to support our local community, from providing pop-up space to artists, non-profits, and small businesses; to handing out free coffee at Black Lives Matter events; to bringing crucial resources like King County Libraries and the King County Health Care Plan Finder into the café so people can easily access them.
Whether you join us in person at our café or order our coffee online, thank you for becoming part of our community and for supporting African coffee growers.
What is the East African Coffee Ceremony?
The East African coffee ceremony is the way that many East African peoples consume their daily coffee, and it's a practice that we honor and continue at Boon Boona Coffee.
The ceremony involves pan roasting raw coffee beans, then brewing the beans in a clay pot known as a jebena. The ceremony is often performed in people's homes for personal consumption and as a sign of hospitality for guests.
You can experience the East African coffee ceremony at the Boon Boona Roastery & Café in Renton, Washington, or in your own home through our tutorial videos.