Aroma Coffee Co. is a locally owned business in Fall City, Washington. Born in the midst of the pandemic, Aroma holds a bigger and better meaning to those in the community than just a coffee shop.
Aroma Coffee Co. seems small on the outside but is a picturesque place on the inside where people from all walks of life gather. At Aroma, there’s a place for everyone.
I visit Aroma at least once a week and always try new items off their menu. With unique and wild blends from burnt honey and cinnamon to lavender, Aroma is far ahead of any local contenders. They have allergy-friendly food options for both breakfast and lunch, and the baristas working there always brighten up my day.
Earlier this week I interviewed an Aroma founder and she gave me insight into the heart behind the amazing coffee shop.
Q: Who are the founders of Aroma? Tell me a bit about them.
A: It was a craving for a deeper community that brought each of us together, and a passion for amazing coffee that led us on the journey to founding Aroma Coffee Co. The owner team includes Sara Cox, Kelsey Wilson and Emily Ridout. Co-owning Aroma Coffee Co. allows us to honor our values in our families, friendships and community.
We share the load of owning a small business by breaking down owner responsibilities into areas of natural gifting. Emily is the communications director overseeing marketing and communications, public relations, community engagement and events, and charitable giving. Sara is the administrative director overseeing administrative operations, financial management and facilities. Kelsey is the operations director overseeing menu creation, vendor relationships, inventory management and staff management. Together we are honored to steward Aroma Coffee Co. and we say it all the time – we wouldn’t be Aroma without each one of us.
Q: Why did you decide to create a coffee shop?
A: We are all three deeply passionate about coffee and about people experiencing all the intricacy and nuance it has to offer. But more than that, we are deeply passionate about human connection and about finding ways for people to find what they have in common in a culture where it’s far easier to see what you don’t.
Coffee is a neutral convener – it calls people together and helps foster connection, one cup, one conversation at a time. Over the years, we have ultimately distilled that our great passion is to see people experience [the] fullness of life and we believe that coffee isn’t the culmination of that dream, but the starting place for it. When people feel deeply seen, known, connected and safe, then they can start stepping into their own great passions and purposes in a way that enriches their lives and the world around them. We’ve already seen this happen more times than we can count in the last 17 months, and we know it’s just the beginning.
Q: How has COVID-19 personally affected your business?
A: Interestingly for us, it’s all we know. We opened in September 2020 and haven’t yet tasted life outside of a pandemic. Like all businesses, we’ve had totally unexpected expenses to accommodate pandemic conditions, and we’ve had to change course dozens of times like everyone else. It’s been a trial-by-fire kind of way to launch a business. In that way, it’s been exhausting and stretching. And in other ways, it’s forged a resilience and nimble adaptability in us that we may not have gained otherwise.
Our community has forced grace for the often sudden shifts in hours due to shortage in staffing and has shown us how deeply committed they are to seeing our success. We have fought – us and our customers – to not let the pandemic close our doors. For that, we are so incredibly grateful. And truth be told, what season is more ripe for offering a taste of full-life-living in such a stressful, exhausting, polarizing, haunting, devastating season of prolonged pandemic?
After nine months of isolation and anxiety, our neighbors were as eager as we were to find a safe way to connect. And connect they have! We have watched people on the same block meet in our lobby, college colleagues reconnect after decades apart [and] childhood friends bump into each other on our porch. Old friendships have been rekindled, thousands of new ones have formed, and we truly get to see the power of authentic, joy-filled, generous human connection. Who knows if this scale of communion would have happened in a pre-pandemic world?
Q: What can we do to help your business?
A: We have learned through our perfectly chaotic beginning that it is more important than ever before to honor people and to put in the work to understand perspectives that are different than our own. We have constantly been challenged by the ever-changing tide of this pandemic and the way people have endured it. Some days it’s been very hard to serve the public and continue to make choices that align with our values and priorities for the sake of the whole. But every day we do, we see the rewarding results of choosing fullness of life. Responding in grace and honor has allowed us to serve all people well and our staff model this day in and day out. We can always find shared values and common ground, and that can transform a community. We would be thrilled to host Bellevue College students who want to come be a part of [the] community at Aroma Coffee Co.
I hope that by now you might be interested in trying Aroma for your daily coffee run. I highly recommend trying to visit. If not for the coffee, then to feel the pulse of the community and the heart that was poured into the making of Aroma Coffee Co.