Meet Darnesha Weary, the co-owner, and her daughter Mikayla Weary, the president of Black Coffee Northwest in Shoreline, Washington. Darnesha and her husband, Erwin Weary, opened their community-first cafe in October 2020 and use their platform to advocate for and advance social and racial justice. Darnesha handles the day-to-day operations at the coffee shop, while Mikayla helps manage youth outreach, serves as a mentor to the youth workers, manages their social media, designs their merch, and more — all while juggling her high school work.
Get to know more about Darnesha, Mikayla, and Black Coffee Northwest in this week’s Business Spotlight Q&A and in our latest blog.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s something your customers may not know about you or your business?
Darnesha: I’m actually an introvert [she laughs]. No one ever believes me, but I really am. And this work is like practice. I have to practice, I have to prepare and make sure that I have all the things I need so when I get nervous or anxious being out in front of people, I’ll have all the tools that I’ll need. So, I’ve taught myself how to be in spaces and be ready to be people-ing. But at heart, I love being at home with my dogs and with my family.
Mikayla: I’ve been studying Japanese for about six years, so I kind of brought that to the coffee shop — we just made a Matcha KitKat drink. I also do art, so I think I implement those in the business. I’m still 17 and graduating high school. It’s really hard to kind of balance the two, but it’s super fun as well because I can see how the system is actively changing.
What’s your favorite part about the community your business is in and why?
Darnesha: The people are activated. There’s a group of people who are ready to see things change and understand that daily actions take time. So, they’re being very intentional about their daily actions for the bigger change, and I love that part. I love that we have different people in the neighborhood that have different skill sets, and they understand that it takes everybody to make it work.
Mikayla: Just connecting is another good thing. We do pop-up shops every weekend and so we connect with local small businesses who are looking to sell their products. It’s just great connecting with them and meeting them and seeing the face behind their Black-owned business or POC-owned business.
Who is on your InTENtional List right now?
Darnesha: I’d say Zuri’s Donutz is my favorite because Davis [Vincent] is such a good man and he’s just a good person. I love to see Black men who are just against every stereotype that anyone ever put out about him. He’s shown up for us so much. We’ve never owned a brick-and-mortar space, and as soon as we got it, he came and he helped us. And our baristas love him.
Mikayla: I’ll go with Boon Boona because Efrem [Fesaha] is just a really great guy filled with wisdom. He basically walked us through how to go beyond coffee in this process because I don’t think this is a business model that’s followed normally. It was just great for him as another local Black-owned business to walk us through how that model would work. And also their coffee is just amazing.