Leona Moore-Rodriguez explains that the Beacon Hill space she owns with husband Luis Rodriguez — a community hub called The Station — is proudly nicknamed ‘the hip hop coffee shop.’ But don't be surprised if George Michael is blaring through the speakers at times, too.
There are many things that help this venue stand out amid the sprawling Seattle coffee landscape. For starters: “We are a happily married couple that work together every day,” comments Moore-Rodriguez. “I am a black, queer woman and Luis is a Mexican immigrant. We're basically a social justice coffee shop, where we don't only serve coffee and sandwiches; we also serve wine and sangria! But what's more important is that we speak out against injustices toward marginalized humans.”
Moore-Rodriguez sets the scene, promising you’ll hear music before even walking through the door.
“It's loud, with all walks of life inside,” she adds. Throughout October, a scary movie plays on one TV, while sports are always airing on the smaller screen; year-round, the walls display works by local artists (which get rotated monthly). Natural light pours in through floor-to-ceiling windows, while rustic wood-finished tables and countertops bring warmth to the venue.
“The owners have potty mouths and won't censor ourselves for anyone,” Moore-Rodriguez reveals . The Station’s employees, many of them free thinkers and artists, are encouraged to speak their minds. “We've made it comfortable for people who you wouldn't necessarily see inside your typical coffee shop,” she says.
“People aren't afraid to speak to each other, and you might find a person without a home sleeping peacefully in a corner. It's important that we are a safe space and that we don't kick anyone out if they can't make a purchase, or if you just need a place to rest for a while."
Back in 1994, Luis and his brother Oscar opened a coffee shop on Beacon Hill called Java Love. Eventually the cafe expanded and became Baja Bistro, with the plan of moving Java Love to another location within the neighborhood. In the end, the brothers decided to sever their partnership and Luis bought the coffee business; Leona and Oscar opened The Station in 2010.
Impressively, they've managed to stay open these past months in spite of everything going on, although business has decreased by 60%. The owners have altered business hours and now work less themselves, in order to give employees more hours and income.
“All we can really do is keep our doors open and provide jobs for our employees,” says Moore-Rodriguez . “Everything else falls into place when we provide great service and great product."
What truly shines here—and gives the owners the most pride—is their connection to the community.
"We partnered up with Cleveland High School and started a food pantry for the community," Moore-Rodriguez explains. "They brought over a huge amount of donated food, where anyone who needed it could come and help themselves. This encouraged the community to donate food and groceries every day for months, since the pandemic hit."
When asked what lies ahead for The Station, Moore-Rodriguez sounds hopeful ,“Our vision for the future is to one day open a second Station, so we can provide even more jobs, especially for POC and marginalized people.”
Looking to support other diverse local businesses like The Station? Seattle Refined is proud to collaborate with Intentionalist, an online guide that makes it easier for you to find and connect with diverse local businesses owned by women, people of color, veterans, members of the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities.