Residents of the Liberty Bank Building will soon be able to wake up and smell the coffee. Cafe Avole, a local coffee shop owned by Solomon Dubie, his brother Getachew Enbiale, and Gavin Amos, will be opening a new location next to Communion and Earl’s Cuts & Styles. Details have been in the works for a while, and the owners made it official by signing a lease agreement this month.
Cafe Avole started off as an espresso cart in a grocery store before evolving into the Brighton neighborhood meeting place locals know and love today. Owner Solomon Dubie came up with the concept of the Ethiopian coffee shop when he looked at the Seattle coffee market and realized there was no representation of the Ethiopian coffee culture he had grown up in.
“I know for a fact that my mom was drinking coffee when I was in the womb,” laughs Solomon. “I was 10 years old, maybe younger when I first roasted coffee for my mom. And it was big, it was a huge deal for me. But as I got older, I realized there isn’t that experience in the heart of Seattle where there is this huge coffee presence, this huge history in coffee. So at that point, I realized there was a gap that could turn into a business opportunity. It was really a sense of calling like ‘oh, this is what I’m supposed to be doing.’”
Solomon grew up watching his family use coffee as a tool for connection and then as his business began, he took a pilgrimage trip to Ethiopia to refine his coffee research.
“I think a lot of what I’ve been developing is identifying what does coffee mean to me?” Solomon said. “And how does coffee play a role in my life, as I identify these hats that I wear – as a young person of color, Ethiopian, representing coffee. It’s a lot of burden, right? So for me, I’ve been trying to find our identity and Avole’s identity. A lot of it has to do with the community and the people that are involved with this, and it’s great to get into the Liberty Bank Building where we have an opportunity to represent that and be able to share that with this community.”
However, the significance of Cafe Avole transcends coffee in Solomon’s eyes.
“We’re also into different things,” Solomon said. “We partner with and support local farmers, we volunteer at Nurturing Roots, we do community advocacy work. We’re just community building, right? I want to give other minorities in our community an opportunity to develop their personal business skills… So as much as we’re in coffee, we believe that the conversations that happen at Avole as a community space, as a living laboratory, allow us to develop these ideas that young entrepreneurs like myself and the younger generation that’s coming up can actually hone in on and say ‘oh, shoot, I can do anything.’
Seattle is like that, for everything and for anything, right? … Avole is about more than just coffee. It’s all about people.”