Efrem Fesaha, owner of Boon Boona Coffee Roasters, grew up in West Seattle with a strong love for coffee. Coming from an Eritrean family, he spent his life surrounded by the sights and smells of the coffee ceremonies performed by his mother and uncle, a traditional ceremony performed daily by Eritreans and Ethiopians. In 2011, Efrem traveled to Asmara, Eritrea, and he fell in love with the local coffee culture while learning more about his roots and the roots of coffee. Efrem was moved by the how the cafes were filled with the scent of freshly-roasted coffee while providing a welcoming community environment at the same time. Upon his return to Renton, Efrem set out to put his own mark on the coffee industry and share his love, culture, and coffee through Boon Boona Roastery and Café.
My name is Efrem Fesaha, CEO and founder of Boon Boona Coffee in Renton, Washington.
To start off with my heritage, where my parents and grandparents, forefathers and foremothers, are all from is Eritrea, which is in East Africa, and specifically a village called Gura, G-U-R-A, Gura, Eritrea, about maybe 30 kilometers or so out from Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea.
My family left there in the mid-'70s, towards the end of the '70s, as a result of the intensifying war that was going on at the time between Eritrea and Ethiopia. They moved to Sudan, and from Sudan, they didn't have a long stay in Sudan, but they made it to Saudi Arabia. My father was able to land a job with Saudi Airlines, where he worked for about 10 years. I was born in the fifth year there.
Then after 10 years total of my family living in Saudi Arabia, my dad found an opportunity to join Boeing here locally in Seattle, actually specifically, Renton. That's what brought us here.
Growing up here, I came here when I was five and my family, in our household, it was a must that you spoke the language, which was the dominant language. The prominent language in Eritrea is Tigrinya, and so that is the language that we were practicing at home in addition to English. My dad and my mom were like, "Hey, you'll find that at school. You'll find that with your friends out there, as soon as you leave this house, but in this house you're going to speak to Tigrinya." Language was a big part.
The food was daily. The coffee ceremony was a big part of it. Really, being exposed to the culture from just how we socialize to events that reflected our culture was a part of our childhood as we were growing up in West Seattle. So as a young kid, you're getting a taste of both worlds, this new American experience, and then that of the Eritrean experience, which is coming in my household. There's a lot in there. There's a lot to definitely speak to, but overall, it was a beautiful, beautiful experience, a beautiful childhood there.
Tell us about your love of coffee. You mentioned a coffee ceremony, and I'm sure those spices and those herbs and those foods that were being cooked as you were growing up. Tell us about just your introduction and when did your love for coffee begin?
Yeah. As a kid, there's an area dedicated to the coffee ceremony inside your household. That's common in Ethiopia and Eritrea, but that's also common in the diaspora. My mother, in the living room, would have a section dedicated to the coffee ceremony. It would be a place to receive guests. A guest comes in and a form of hospitality is to offer them your coffee. If it's coffee, she's going to go through this entire process, and I'll definitely speak and elaborate on that.
But as a kid, you're told to keep away, don't touch the things there. There are ceramic cups, there's a clay pot, there are things that are fragile, and a kid being a kid would definitely end up knocking off a few of those things and getting in trouble. As a kid, you're told to keep away from that, but you smell it. You see it. There are times where there are different things put into the festivities or the tradition of the coffee ceremony that are enticing to a kid like candy and cookies and such.
But I grew up seeing that, but never partaking in it, because really you're not allowed to, being so young, but about the time when you're about 16, 17 or so, you're asked if you want some.Typically, at that point in time, you're like, "No, I don't want to hang out with you older folks. My parents? Why would I want to hang out with them?" It wasn't until I came back from college, after my first semester, that I really had a desire for more coffee to stay up during my college years.
I came back and my mom would ask, "Do you want coffee," and I was like, "All right. Yeah, I'll hang out with you. I miss you, mom." She would take this green coffee, the raw coffee, that is, put it on a small little pan and roast it over the stove top or this little grill that we would have in that area I was referring to in our living room. She would roast it. She would then grind it and then she would put it in the clay pot called Jebena, and add water to it and brew it. We would sit there drinking and catching up. You're smelling the freshly roasted coffee, but then as the coffee's being served and when it's time to start drinking it, incense is burned.
There is food that's presented with it, typically fresh popcorn, stuff that we call Kolo, which basically it's ... What kind of seed is it? Sorry, it's not a seed, it's sorghum. It's toasted sorghum, and then it's salt, pepper and spices are added to it, and a healthy snack basically is added to it.Maybe a cake is brought in, cookies are brought in, but there's some dessert, there's something with it. Then of course, Dabo or Himbasha, which is bread traditionally made at home, which sometimes sugar is added to it or raisins to sweeten it up or orange peels or lime peels. Everyone has different traditions with that, but that food is brought with that coffee ceremony.
You get this full experience of this hospitality and just a time to really socialize and catch up.And at this time, it was very brand new to me, but that was the first real exposure to the traditional side of coffee.
Then it wasn't until a number of years later, after I graduated from college and was working in the field of finance, I decided, "Hey, I need to reconnect with my roots," and I decided to take a trip to Eritrea. I spent three months there between Asmara and Gura and other parts of the country as well.
Eritrea was colonized by Italy, and because of that experience, there's about a 50-year history of Italian rule inside of Eritrea. During that time, coffee was starting to become popularized inItaly. From the late 1800s to early-mid-1900s, until about 1950, when Mussolini fell, Italy was in Eritrea. There were a lot of cafes, bakeries, art that reflected that history, it was all there.
I got to experience that. There were a few cafes that are still operating and to be able to see how they approached coffee culture was of interest to me and that spurred some ideas and adesire to enter into coffee. That's what began. That was in 2011.
You spoke a little bit about the different spices and the different incense. I'm curious to know part of the community that is here in Renton; where do you find some of those spices? What is found here? What are you bringing in, in different ways? What are you creating yourself?
Renton is very diverse in that it's actually one of the, I think, at least top 20 most diverse cities in the nation, so very multicultural. Even here where we're located in downtown Renton, I look outside my window and there's a Vietnamese restaurant, there's a Mexican restaurant. There's an Indian/Pakistani restaurant, so a very diverse community here. The community of East Africans, they do reside here in Renton, Kent, the south Seattle area, but then they also reside in the north as well in the Shoreline and Lynnwood areas as well.
They all initially started in the Central District. You'll find a good amount of stores, mini marts and grocery stores, as well as restaurants in the city, in the CD area, 23rd and Cherry, for example. But in Renton and these outskirts only became more neighborhoods where we were residing in, but didn't necessarily produce as many of those stores. Maybe we're starting to see a little bit more in the north end and in the south, that Tukwila area and such. But in Renton, there aren't necessarily any East African stores where I can go buy those spices, so I still go to the central area for them.
How I incorporated it into our cafe is trying to find ways of holding onto those flavors and things that would help from an experience perspective, but then also educational perspective, incorporating it into our drinks. There are things that we love to have.
Chai is one. Chai is spiced tea. It's got cloves, it's got cinnamon, lots of sugar.There are spices like Berbere, which is a chili pepper that's roasted and laid out in the sun and ground really fine, and salt and other spices are added into it, but that Berbere is prominent in a lot of our dishes.
Last winter, we got the idea to do a Berbere mocha, which is basically this house made chocolate that we have, but then we added the Berbere spice into it as the espressos is being laid into it, stirring it up. It's basically allowing the coffee, the chocolate and the Berbere to all blend into it. Basically, it melds well, it melds much better, and then you add the milk on top of it.It was delicious and it was a hit.It was a way for us to express and introduce; express our culture, but then introduce this tradition to our Renton community and show them, "Hey, here goes a way to have coffee with also a little bit of this unique, spicy kick called Berbere." Folks were even asking about where they can source that Berbere, which then they can incorporate into their foods as well at home. Things like that have become things that we do look to that tradition to bring in.
Do you think that you would maybe take us through what a coffee ceremony would look like? I would love to hear that just from the start to finish in your words and description.
I'm curious, you mentioned that you had that first experience with your mom.
Is there a passing down of what you're cooking with that moves from family to family?
There is, and it varies more so with food, and very much with coffee. The Jebena is something that is passed on, the Jebena itself, the clay pot. When you move out or move into a new home, it's a gift, "Do you have a coffee ceremony? Do you have a space for it? Do you have the equipment? Because what if guests come over? Are you going to be able to serve them coffee?" That is something that your family will look to give to you.
Because it is a clay pot and it's only really produced in Ethiopia/Eritrea, they're hand held carried here, and along the journey, they can easily break because they are clay pots. The value of them is really held high and taking good care of them is very important.
The approach of roasting and brewing is also something that is learned through experience and where you are sitting down and being tutored on how best to do it. There’s definitely someone worthy who will critique you heavily, even after you've somewhat mastered it.
You'll still get critiqued. It's almost the fun banter that you do with friends and family. That happens heavily. Between the traditional approach and especially the traditions of that culture, for example, there are tribes that approach the coffee ceremony differently than another tribe. Because there are so many different tribes in East Africa, everyone has different traditions that they'll apply. For example, one may use ginger, one may use sugar and salt, another may use a spiced butter. That tradition will reflect that of the culture or the tribe that they're coming from.
Also the style of Jebena that's used, there are two different styles; one is one spout and one is two spouts. That is sometimes based off of that village or that area of where you're at. Additionally, there are identifiers on that Jebena. Because it's a clay pot, you can put different art on it, or it'll say the name of the city or the town or village that it was produced in. That is also a common tradition that is done as well. Having one from that place also pulls at your heart a little bit too. It's something that I would prefer, if it was me, I'd be like, "Oh, I want this particular Jebena from this place," because it would hold a little bit more meaning for me. There are those types of things that do get passed down.
Would you mind taking us through just a coffee ceremony from start to finish?
Yeah, definitely, without a doubt, without a doubt. Now definitely, it's best to experience it. We used to provide it here at the cafe pre-COVID and hopefully after COVID, we'll get back to doing it as well.
The way it works is that you come into a house, and I'm going to give you that experience, if you were to come into my mother's house.
She'd be like, "Welcome in," and she'd be like, "What would you like? Would you like tea? Would you like coffee?" You say, "I want coffee." "All right. Well, we're hanging out for a few hours."
What mom would start off doing is grabbing some green beans (coffee beans). Also just to provide a little bit more context, green beans are when a coffee tree has little cherries, and you peel open the cherry and inside of them are these two little green beans. That is what starts it all off. You take these two green beans, put it on a pan and then start to roast it over the fire. As it's cooking, you're keeping an eye on it to see how dark you prefer to have that coffee. Now, everyone has different light roasts, medium roasts, dark roasts, and it's the same within the coffee ceremony.
As you're roasting, you're just trying to get an even roast across the board. You're swaying, it's a pan, it's an aluminum pan, light in weight, obviously, so that you don't get carpal tunnel, to really reduce the weight of that. You're using that primarily if it's only a group of about no more than 15 people, because too much coffee beans, one, it'll be too heavy and it'll be too dense and you won't get an even roast. It's also very heavy on the hand as well.
If you have a larger gathering, there are different techniques that are used. Once again, this is based off of the tribe as well, but a flat surface, almost like a slate, and then underneath, a heating element is underneath there or a little fire is going and it heats up that rock basically. Then almost like a long hook back scratcher that you would use, but a long hook is used to sway the coffee over that flat surface that has the heat underneath it, but that's larger gatherings. A smaller one would just be a small aluminum pan, swayed over the fire. You're just moving it and it makes this beautiful “ch,ch,ch” sound.
Once it's done roasting, which for the Jebena, typically it's a medium dark roast coffee, you'll take that. For espresso, you'll let degassing happen, which takes up to anywhere from 24 hours to seven days to degas the coffee before you use it for espresso. In this case, you're going to take that coffee, let it cool down just a little bit, put it into your grinder or mortar and pestle, and work it as fine as you want it. Usually the coarseness is about a fine to medium coarse of a grind. You now have your ground coffee. The smell of it and the look of it is something that's more familiar than what you started off with, which was a green coffee.
You'll take that ground coffee and place it into the Jebena. The Jebena is an empty clay pot. The bottom of it is round and it has a tube spout for it at the top. You put the coffee grounds in the top of it and then water is added. There is no measuring. In coffee, and especially specialty coffee, you measure out everything, you time everything to really get a precise cup. That's more art than it is science when it comes to the Jebena and the coffee experience, but it is something that over time, you really begin to perfect and know your ratios. It's more of a learned thing.
The water's added, and then the Jebena is placed on top of that heating element, that grill, and it starts to boil. As it boils and as it brews over the course of about 15 minutes or so, you've got a brewed coffee ready to start serving. You'll place it to the side. You have these little small ceramic cups that are about three ounces and you'll serve your coffee into those cups, sugar, salt, ginger, that spiced butter. Different traditions, once again, based off of the different cultures will be added to that cup.
Then you'll ask your guests, "Do you want it? Do you want these things," or you may just simply want it black and that's cool too, or you may want it with milk? You can have that too in it. There's no wrong way of serving it. You start to sip. Over the course of a few sips, you're supposed to give feedback, "Was it good?” “You burnt it, it's too watery." Once again, you can critique and it's not wrong. You're doing it with friends and you're doing it with family and so you can say those things. Sometimes it's harsh, but it's always fun.
That's just the first round. There are three rounds and each round has a name. The first round is called awel, the second one is called kale'i, and then the third one is called bereka. Bereka really means to be blessed or the blessing, the third. The number three or third has a religious context as well for it, but that third round is called bereka.
What happens after that first round, we just sip that coffee, and what'll happen is that more water is added to the coffee that's inside there, not that new ground coffee is added or you're roasting again, nothing like that. You're just adding more water. Really what you're doing, is the second round, you're getting a much more diluted coffee. Then the third one is even more diluted coffee, and if it's really good, you may even have a fourth round.
After the second and the third round, which at this point, you're probably about an hour and a half in, and you can expedite this process, but it's tough to expedite all those things to get it within an hour. At the end of it, the person that provided that hospitality, that roasted and brewed it, what you would do as the guest is thank them. You'd offer blessings upon the house, blessings to them and just offer some good words.
In this time, there are other things being offered, and I think I spoke to them a little bit earlier where there's food appetizers. Usually no major meal is happening at the time. It's really just appetizers. But after that third round, either you're ready to eat a meal or it's time to say, "Thank you, I appreciate it, it was great visiting with you and it's time to go."
That is the coffee ceremony. Once again, it does have variations to it, many, many different approaches to it. It's really beautiful exploring that.
How lovely to have all the stages of the welcome, the creation, and you see it from the start to finish, ending with a blessing. Are there, for holidays or celebrations, moments where there would be alterations to this ceremony that you mentioned? It's X, Y, and Z, it's a special birthday or it's a more religious gathering where that ceremony wouldn't reflect that?
No, it's the same almost every time. It can be expedited in speed and maybe what you have available, maybe on the holidays, you may have a little bit of extra. Somebody brought a gift over, brought a cake over and so maybe those types of things are added to it, but the ceremony and the tradition stays the same across the board.
There's no wrong time to have it. That's the thing. It could be mornings, it could be 7:00 AM, it could be 3:00 AM. It could be 7:00 PM. There's no wrong time to have it.
Additionally, what is added though, especially on holidays, is that because it is a form of hospitality, each guest that comes in is offered that same level of hospitality. There are days where mom, if she has a string of guests coming, will produce up to five, six, seven times going from the beginning of roasting coffee to brewing it, to serving it, because that same level of hospitality is to be provided.
It could be a celebration. It could be morning, it could be a wedding. There's no wrong time to have the coffee ceremony. It's available at all times, all times of the year and any hour, as long as somebody is like, "I want it," you're going to get it. Yeah. And as well, as long as the person providing it is willing to do it too. Right?
Your knees do hurt after a few hours of sitting low to the ground, which is how it's traditionally served. Your knees definitely get fatigued and you want to stand up. It's almost like driving your car for about five or six hours. You're like, "Oh, I need to get up and walk around." It gets like that.
You mentioned that you've learned from your mom. Do both male and female take on the role of roasting? Is there usually someone in the household that is the roaster?
Yeah, and once again, it does vary from tribe to tribe, but typically, women are the ones that perform the coffee ceremony. It's somewhat taboo in certain tribes for the man to do it. Some of the time, what you'll see is that it's in places where only men can be at where the man will do it; a monastery, the religious type of gatherings where only men are there. But if it's someone's house, typically women are doing it.
If it's a holiday, a woman is doing it. The age varies. It's sometimes left to the main host, really, the one that's going to carry the conversation to do it. Or if the main host is going to be busy preparing food or doing anything else, then a friend of the family, aunt, a sister, a daughter will perform the coffee ceremony.
Now growing up in my household, typically my mother did it, my sisters would do it. My sisters rarely dabbled in it. My uncle would do it. Seeing him gave me confidence to be able to do it as well. He would actually produce better cups than sometimes some of the other relatives. It was like, "All right, okay." It's great to see his confidence building, yeah. I'm like, "Alright, I'm going to do that as well and try his technique."
Did he have a special technique that you saw?
He did, he did. Yeah, he did.
It was a little different?
What he would do is actually he would heat up the water first. He would boil the water, add coffee grounds into it after the fact, which typically it's the reverse, you do coffee grounds into the Jebena first, then add the water. It's cold water or lukewarm water, and then it's boiled. He would boil the water and then introduce the coffee grounds into it. It's really about, do you want to shock the bean or do you want the bean to gradually release itself as it's brewing?
That's the difference you would see there. His technique was different and unorthodox, and mom would definitely critique him about him, but then she taste it and be like, "Ah, this is pretty good. You get a pass."
I love doing it too, here at the cafe. I love doing it because it is still somewhat taboo. I do notice that sometimes elder Habesha men, Eritrean or Ethiopian men will be like, "Are you doing the coffee ceremony?" I'll be like, "Yeah, man, I'm doing it. Yeah, you've got to know how to do it. I want coffee. Do you think I'm going to just wait? I'm going to produce it myself." It also breaks down that taboo factor as to why is it taboo? If you know how to do it, do it.
Is it taboo as it's normally within a private home?
It's taboo in a private home, yeah, but just in general, just depending on the tribe, the culture produces that too. It creates the roles based off of gender, sex and such. That happens.
Tell us a little bit about where we're sitting and how this came to be. You mentioned that you're continuing forth these traditions and these ceremonies here. I'd love to just document where we're at, what we're doing and what takes place within these walls.
Right now you're in Boon Boona coffee and it's in Renton, downtown Renton, on Third Avenue. The space is about 3,000 square feet, a pretty big cafe for a cafe, it is. We definitely have the traditional and the contemporary approach of coffee and espresso bar. We do pour overs. We have drip, cold brew, nitro cold brew, all that funky and fun stuff.
We've got all those things, but then we also have a roaster here. We roast all of our coffee here. We also have a lot of seating area. This space occupies enough space for about 100 people to sit in. We love those types of days because it's just so lively in here.
Then we have a space dedicated to the coffee ceremony here where on Saturdays, we would go through the process every hour on the hour, 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM, of roasting, grinding and brewing and speaking to this history of coffee that started in Kaffa, Ethiopia.
We tell the story of Kaldi and we talk about the journey of coffee, how it made its way to Brazil and Columbia and Indonesia and such. We talk about the time in which we have the coffee ceremony. We talk about the process. We introduce the different tools that we use for the coffee ceremony. We do that here in the space.
We also open it up for popups. We have a lot of events here because similar to that experience of a gathering space, a very welcoming space and experience, that's also what we want to strive for here in our cafe as well. We have King County library come in here and read books to kids, we'll have poetry night, live music.
We invite other vendors, food and beverage vendors, whether it's fresh juice or Congolese food or Kenyan food or Hungarian food, to be produced and served here and sold. It provides an opportunity for another small business to also get some attention and sell some product, and once again, educate our community about different things outside of what we're accustomed to, so providing that kind of space. That's what we try to do within these walls.
How do you find individuals that are walking into this space, just coming in fresh? What has been the reaction from folks of, "Wait, what? What is this ceremony happening in here?"
It's definitely fun. Whenever I'm roasting coffee over here, it's definitely like, "Whoa, what? What's going on over there?" They can smell it, and they know that smell, it's freshly roasted coffee, so they become intrigued. They come a little bit closer and are just peeking over. It's like, "No, come over here, come check this out, come learn what this is," so sharing with people.
The objective isn't to leave them with more questions, or leave them with good questions, more questions to go search out, for sure, but giving them answers to what it is that we're doing in this space, providing a little bit more of what is going on, than you just order the drink that you would typically get at another cafe and just walk out. No, go ahead and experiment with a Berbere mocha or ask questions of our espresso and where it came from and how we sourced it. Engage in the popup and the food vendors that are here or the book readings that are happening. We love that kind of engagement.
We want people to feel like, yeah, they're shocked and, "Whoa, there's something going on here," but then also welcoming them in, no different than you coming into someone's house or my mom's house and her saying, "Come on, relax, have a seat on the couch. Do you want coffee? Do you want tea? What would you like?" That level of hospitality is really what we're trying to have guests leave with.
Seattle's known for coffee. Share a little bit about being in the coffee industry in such a popular city, that is known for its coffee, but also bringing this deeply rooted cultural side to it and this very intimate family connection to it.
That's what sparked the idea of Boon Boona for me was that. It was because I was so familiar with how we consume coffee here, fast paced. It can be that everyone's working in their own silos and there's not much community being built inside these cafes. Whereas when I went to Eritrea, folks would hang out at the cafe, the place smelled like coffee. You knew what it was.
It had an interesting blend between the traditional and that contemporary side of coffee consumption. I said that this is that opportunity.
How can you try building off of these two worlds within a space and provide an opportunity to educate without forcing it into anybody, but out of a desire to understand more, and understand this beverage that we consume, that we enjoy so much in a different, deeper way so that you do have more of an attachment, not necessarily to drink more coffee, but an attachment to why and how?
This coffee was sourced from Africa. It's a long journey from there to here so what was that like? What am I tasting? That was the desire. It was a blend of both of these cultures into one place. That was what we strive to try doing in here.
It's a difficult web, it was difficult to navigate that, especially trying to get the buy-in from a bank to get the funding for it, because I'm not a wealthy guy at all. Trying to help them understand that was a very difficult process. Initially the conversation was, "No, it doesn't look like everything else here. It needs to look like everything else because we know what the results of those metrics are. We know what that is. What you're talking about sounds beyond. Why would anybody want that?"
And as a result, it took a longer time to reach this spot. My trip was in 2011 and at the end of 2011, I worked for two months on that business plan, on that financial plan, and telling that story and trying to formulate how I would make it happen. What I did then is what we're sitting in now, but trying to explain it at that time was difficult because it was so against the norm. The journey was worth it, but it could have been made much easier. If you're truly passionate about it, the day will come.
We're fortunate that the community has received it so well. We're still standing and we're still here, especially during such a challenging, trying time as both the pandemic that's going on, a new business, all those things.
You've spoken about this throughout our conversation, but the last section was that transmission of the legacy. Why is it so important? I've heard you say that it's understanding the what and the why, and it's pulling that meaning into every day. It's pride of who are you and what you've made. It's learning about who our neighbors are. Why, to you, is that transmission of this legacy is so important?
I sometimes think, one, yeah, I have a lot of pride and a lot of love for where I come from and I love sharing that. In sharing that, I know that, one, yeah, selfishly, it feels good. Getting to share your story, definitely it feels good to do and hear somebody else's story. It's not that it's a one-way street, it's a two-way; you want to learn about someone else's story. Then it also helps to leave that history as to, "Well, where did it come from? How did it start?" That narrative is very important and sometimes intentionally, the desire is to forget that ever happened.
My desire is to push back against it because it's a form of my history and it's a form of our history. It is our history. It is important. It provides a deeper understanding of the things of the journey that we've made to this point and also how that legacy has been in use for so long. I may have to just use an example for it.
I can start off with coffee and I'll go to vanilla even, but with coffee.
The word coffee itself is derived from a village in Ethiopia called Kaffa. Most people don't know that. Kaffa, Ethiopia is also the birthplace of Arabica coffee beans, the ones that, for the most part, are the majority of what we drink. The word in itself that we use to describe this product is not even known as to where it originated from. Even that is a huge opportunity to share that narrative.
Now, what does that do? Now that puts a little bit more emphasis. When you think of Ethiopia, the common day interpretation or what we're shown on television is that there's famine and there's strife and there's war, but there's much deeper history in Ethiopia, but Ethiopia is one country.
There are similar stories across the continent of Africa, especially a place like Africa, where that history is not shared. Usually that of the last 100, 200, 400 years of colonial rule is what we only think about. But that of the importance of the pyramids is known, but it's sometimes almost made to seem like the pyramids aren't in Africa, but it's that narrative. That's one.
Another one is even, and I was going to mention vanilla. We'll go to the grocery store, we'll buy ice cream. It says, "French vanilla," however, vanilla never grew or does not grow naturally in France. It's a product of Madagascar. It only grew in Madagascar, but because Madagascar was colonized by France, it's only known as French vanilla.
Now that's an opportunity for narrative to be changed, a level of understanding of our world is enhanced and appreciation of our world is much more understood. It brings me a lot of joy when you can tell that true story, that true narrative. It's no longer just being covered up. It's now being exposed and one can then go deeper and try to learn more about these places than what we've been told.
That's legacy. Honestly, it's just to do your part to tell the truth, I guess, if there's anything, and once again, selfishly to share your culture. Now, I am of Eritrean descent and Eritrea has been fortunate enough to be close to Ethiopia in that the coffee ceremony and the coffee traditions have come across. I've also gotten to experience it in Ethiopia and such. I feel that the history of coffee or the history of Ethiopia and that of even Madagascar or that of Guinea or Egypt is also my history. It's my right, as much as I know, to share it. That's what I try seeking to do. I humbly take any corrections as well along that journey, too.
Is there anything that you would like to add? Anything that maybe we didn't touch on that you feel is important that we capture here?
I guess to go a little bit more into what we're doing now as well, outside of just the traditional coffee ceremony and the space and such is that we source only African coffees. We want to highlight these different producers and try to create an economy between here in Renton and that of a place like Zambia or a place like Kenya and producers there.
We're finding these great opportunities to highlight women owned, produced coffees in Rwanda or Burundi and relationships that we hope to continue to grow, and that more people seek each places in these great countries and in cities and towns all throughout Africa, but to do it in a better way, hopefully.