Black Coffee, Anarchist Co-op That Left Capitol Hill, Calls It Quits
Eighteen months after announcing it was leaving “Capital Hell” and looking for a new Seattle home, anarchist cooperative Black Coffee says it has given up the search:
in the past year since we closed doors, we’ve met almost every week, looked at dozens of spaces and almost signed several leases. on multiple occasions we were within days of signing a lease, only to have things fall through. sometimes, it seemed like our reputation had preceded us. finally at the end of the summer our most promising space looked like it was going become a reality, only to fall apart at the last moment. doing what we wanted with the space would have gotten us kicked out and sued, not doing what we wanted would have meant abandoning the reasons we started black coffee to begin with. after six months of negotiation, even though we had secured financing and created a strong plan for the project, we had to walk away.
“We are burnt out, out of ideas, and our lives are moving on,” the Black Coffee announcement posted to Facebook reads. “It’s time to be done.”
Black Coffee began its search for a Capitol Hill home in 2012 describing itself as a worker’s cooperative “formed with the intention to create a cafe space and infoshop in Seattle.” It eventually settled into the space at 501 E Pine that had previously been home to Travelers but wrestled with the challenges of combining its social ideals with day to day operations. By the end of the summer of 2014, Black Coffee’s issues with neighboring businesses — and what its members said were neighborhood changes that made it financially (and emotionally) untenable to stay here” — inspired the collective to leave Capitol Hill. Despite the issues, the feisty collective had its fans. Black Coffee raised nearly $9,000 in pledges in a crowd-funding campaign to help with its move.
In its goodbye announcement, Black Coffee called on its supporters to create more spaces like the cafe with “a free market, a free library, a free food bin, free holiday meals, and a free parking space” — “a space where you didn’t have to spend money to hang out.”
“Please make more spaces like Black Coffee happen,” the message reads. “Anything that we did, you can do. The shape of the community changes, but the community stays.”
The E Pine space is now home to Public Bikes.