Daring Women

Community, Coffee, Culture

Darnesha Weary has big plans for Black Coffee Northwest. Many don’t even involve caffeine

By Edited and Condensed by Rob Smith November 20, 2023

Darnesha Weary, owner of Black Coffee Northwest

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2023 issue of Seattle magazine.

DarNesha Weary first bonded with her husband, Erwin, over coffee. Their first date was in a coffee shop. It makes sense, then, that the couple — married for 25 years — now own Black Coffee Northwest.

Caffeine, though, isn’t the most important part of the growing company. The Wearys launched Black Coffee Northwest in June 2020 to provide a community gathering space and to give neighborhood kids job-training opportunities. They also wanted to build generational wealth for their families.

So far, so good. Black Coffee Northwest now has three locations, at Shoreline and North Seattle community colleges and in Seattle’s Central District. The Wearys are also planning to reopen their community center/coffee shop next year after closing the original location in Shoreline after several acts of racist vandalism and a dispute with their landlord.

“Even our contractors and all our vendors are Black businesses as well,” says DarNesha, an equity consultant and trainer who previously worked as an executive with the YMCA of Greater Seattle. “We want to generate money in our community. That’s why we’re here. We’re building it for our kids as well.”

The couple’s 20-year-old daughter, Mikayla, serves as company president.


Humility. Knowing that you don’t know it all and you’re never going to. And you can’t do it all by yourself. Transparency. Positivity. Just remaining positive all the time, even when you don’t want to or when things around you aren’t always positive.


Tenacity. As a leader, my job is to push down every barrier and obstacle, so (colleagues) don’t always have to be tenacious. Another one would be just being a big-picture thinker all the time, and forgetting that daily things are what get us to those big things.


Be fearless, someone that is willing to embrace change and support and take on opportunities for growth. I love to say that I’m an adaptable leader. I can be in your boardroom, and I also will blow up balloons and make cupcakes. I can change and shift and be fluid.


Mentorship is something that’s really important to me. Every leader should have a mentor. Winona Hauge is a Black leader in the Shoreline area and really took me under her wing. We met when I was in a leadership position at my former job and one day she came in and I was near tears because I was so frustrated with what was happening at my work. She pulled me aside and spoke positivity into me. She’s been my mentor (during) the transition to entrepreneur. You need someone who’s just really proud of you. I learned to always stay focused on the goal and that I need to be intentional every single day with everything I do.


Have a clear vision of what you want for your life. Write it down and put deadlines and dates and action items behind it and just stick to it and know that the timeline will always change. That’s something I had to get over. I’m a type A personality. I have a spreadsheet and a timeline for everything. And there’s a space for everyone at the top. You don’t have to climb up and step on someone else. Climb up and bring them with you.


Networking is key to everything that I do. Just knowing who you are, how you show up, is your biggest brand. Networking is so important, but it goes far beyond a business card exchange. It’s really about your character.


I would not stay as silent as I did in my career. As I was trying to navigate through things, I let a lot of things happen to me. I didn’t fight for myself. I didn’t fight for others. I didn’t fight for other women that look like me. I would’ve spoken up and fought for people a lot harder.


I love coffee. You can find me at random coffee places all over this city. I have my own coffee shop, but I’m also at other places. You can find me at Boon Boona, having coffee and hanging out (near) UW. I love the scene, the youth, the energy. You can find me there reading a book and drinking coffee. I love coffee shops. I’m really working hard not to work on the weekends.


If I had one, it would be She Did It. I come from homelessness, from an abusive background. These are things that I never thought I could do. I’m doing things that I never thought I had in me.

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