coffee and coffee beans

What's New At Cortona Cafe?

Posted 10/06/2012 in Art, Announcements, and Community.

Hello Everyone! It has been awhile since we have gave our Cortona family an update on our website and thought you should have the 411. We have updates for our art this month, youth programming and new hours for the shop.

New Art for October: "Women & Workers: The Prints of Byron Randall

Here is some background information about our exhibit and artist:

The title is inspired by Randall’s loving treatment of the feminine form and his identification with the working class, both reflective of his unique brand of socialist humanism. Randall felt a sense of communion with women and workers that inspired and shaped the figures of his prints. The clean lines and warm roundness Randall used to render these figures lends them dignified concreteness—verging on the realist—combined with unabashed transcendental beauty—leaning towards the abstract—that is the essence of an artistic politics of elevating the quotidian object and the common life.

Active as an Expressionist print maker and painter and a political activist for the far left for sixty years, Randall left us this legacy when he died in 1999. He specialized in woodcuts and linocuts ranging in size. Randall worked closely with the Mexican muralists and ran a televised workshop with Soviet print makers. While this exhibition features his female nudes and political figurative work, it will also include still lifes, landscapes, and a few rare single-edition prints. Look for his tongue-in-cheek “Beauty Queen/Liberty” series and the sequence of small, psychedelic prints he called “Kicking the Moon.”

Born in Tacoma and raised in Salem, Oregon, Randall thought of the Pacific Northwest as “a powerful bit of environment that would show in a man’s work all his life,” from “brilliant sunlight nursing the green valleys after a long rainy winter” to “the atmosphere around the bonfire in a hopyard after supper,” banjos singing. The sense of community and appreciation for natural beauty evident in Randall’s work reflect these experiences. He believed that “In time, my (and your) creative effort will overcome the forces of evil that menace peace-loving mankind. Our creative work is in that sense a mission and a sublime cause, clumsy and grubby as it may seem when weighed against its mission.”

Youth Vocational Training & Partnerships in the Central District

Since we became a non-profit in January of 2011, Cortona has trained or provided jobs for 20 youth in the Central District! This month we just said goodbye to Safiya who has moved on to Western Washington University, and we have said "Hello" to Candace who is joining Chris as our interns throughout the week. Candace is new to and will be by Mondays and Tuesdays, so please say hi. Chris is with us Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Moreover, please join Chris every third Friday of the month, for "Shadowmix", a spoken-word and poetry night at Cortona, (this month will be Friday, October 19th, from 7 to 9:30 pm)

New Hours for Fall & Winter

School is back in session and our days are beginning to get shorter, so Cortona will be adjusting given our slower hours in the afternoon. Starting this week we will be open Monday thru Friday, 6am to 5pm, Saturday 8am to 5pm, and Sunday 8am to 3pm. Of course, part of our mission as a non-profit is to allow our space for free booking in the evenings, and we will continue to do that after 5pm. We just need 2 weeks notice to reserve and staff the cafe after regular business hours.



Cortona Cafe Unveils Black Eyed Pea Hummus

Posted 07/26/2011 in Announcements and Food.

As many people hopefully know, Cortona Cafe has recently added black-eyed pea hummus to the menu which appears to be a hit with the majority of the regular customers. The alluring dish is made by culinary artist Kristi Brown-Wokoma and has quickly become one of the more popular items on the menu. It's a shift from the more traditional hummus made of chickpeas and more healthy (CK). Given the lack of healthy food options in the neighborhood, we're glad to have a protein rich new option for customers.

It's important to note that Kristi Brown-Wokoma is a long time Central District resident which falls in line with Cortona's mission to buy and sell products that come from the neighborhood. If you haven't tried our black-eyed pea hummus yet, check out a quick Q&A with Kristi as she talks about why she created the dish and hopefully it will encourage you to come on in and try it.

When did you first start thinking of making black-eyed pea hummus? What led you to want to tinker with that recipe?

Several years ago when I worked the lunch line at Kingfish Cafe, I was trying to impress my chef, Tracey McRae, and I thought that the black eye peas would be a perfect mix between traditional soul food cooking and the fresh Northwest cuisine.

Are there any advantages of using black-eyed peas over garbanzo beans?

Black eyed peas have a richness which isn't present in the garbanzo beans. Both are extremely rich in protein, but the black eyes peas seems to have a more complicated flavor that holds up perfectly to the other ingredients.

What type of reactions have you gotten from people who have tried it? Even people who might be skeptical at first?

I have hummus stalkers, people call me from all over the country, hitting me up on my social networks and seeking me out at events just to get me to make them hummus! I have gotten very familiar with the ways of my skeptics, they scrounge their nose up, say how much they hate black eye peas, but I am committed to making people believers! So I can get a little persuasive to get them to at least try it.

How long have you been working professionally as a culinary artist?

I have worked in the culinary industry for 20 years, mostly in catering, but have had a very varied experiences within this industry and wouldn't trade it for the world.

As a resident of the C.D. is it nice knowing that a local cafe is supporting one of your creations?

Oh my goodness yes! It has been a pleasure to work alongside Jason and Foxy to make my dream of retailing hummus a reality. I appreciate their hard work, and look forward to seeking out more ways to be a part of the community!



S.T.A.R.T.S. Youth Summer Employment Program Gets Under Way

Posted 07/17/2011 in Announcements, Food, and Community.


S.T.A.R.T.S. Youth hitting the streets with fresh produce every Wednesday from 12pm to 3pm this summer.


The S.T.A.R.T.S. Project is a 10 week program sponsored by the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative and led by Central District non-profits and organizations.

As teenagers across the city search for working opportunities during the summer slow down, nine lucky youth from Seattle are experiencing the "green jobs" opportunity of their lifetime.

Over the spring, Cortona Cafe owner Jason Davison had a vision for a youth employment program based in the Central District that would allow for young people that are disenfranchised to learn about gardening, healthy foods, and how they can become a part of the green movement. The summer program Jason had in mind is called S.T.A.R.T.S. (Students Taking Agriculture 'Round The Streets) and as of two weeks ago, it officially came into fruition.

Along with a variety of key neighborhood youth workers, there are currently nine students that are a part of the program and they're doing everything from composting and working on farms to discovering healthy food options in the neighborhood and working on a potential dish to be displayed at Cortona Cafe. There are guests chefs involved, lot's of opportunities for learning, and best of all, the youth get paid to complete the program. S.T.A.R.T.S. has managed to partner with organizations like Ground Up Yesler, Community Kitchens NW, Rotary Boys and Girls Club, Metropolitan Sickle Cell Task Force, Green Plate Special, Alley Cat Acres plus the Clean Greens and Red Barn farms to keep the teenagers' fingers in the soil and they're making nutritious meals each week out of the kitchen at Immaculate Conception. There will be more updates coming on the program as the summer continues.



Stained Glass by Cindy Kempf Featured at Cortona This Month

Posted 06/19/2011 in Art.

If you haven't stopped by Cortona this month, please do! Not only for a great cup of coffee or a decadent tiramisu waffle, but to check out our wonderful art collection this June by our neighbor and gifted artist, Cindy Kempf.

Though Cindy owes muich to her parents who influenced her in industrial design and the arts--her greatest inspiration for her artistry comes from the complexity and beauty of nature. Much of the work displayed displayed this month utilizes everyday urban items, (bottle tops, glass bottles), to reflect the natural beauty of the world one encounters only after quiet reflection and observation. The art displayed is as much a reflection of natural beauty as it is the artist's willingness to slow down and let her intuition guide her work.

There are a number of different medium on display this month, but stained glass features prominently throughout. A form of glass art that is usually found in cathedrals, Cindy endeavors to make stained glass relevant to everyday people who would enjoy its beauty outside of church walls: "I want people to be inspired by the awe and vibration of color in their own home."

Cortona is honored to showcase Cindy's collection--make sure to drop by and enjoy!



Kenyan Art Show Tonight at Cortona 6-9pm via PAUSE: A Space for New Visions

Posted 04/30/2011 in Events and Art.

Tonight we are hosting an event in the mezzanine from 6-9 pm bringing awareness to a particular artist village in Ngecha, Kenya. The Seattle-based non-profit PAUSE: A Space for New Visions, does work with a collective of artists in Ngecha, Kenya and they'll be displaying particular pieces created by Kenyans throughout the cafe. Meredith Bauer, the co-founder and director of PAUSE, says of the event: “We hope to celebrate our partnership with the Kenyan artists and encourage the local community here to connect with the artists and each other through viewing, appreciating, and buying their art."

Below is a short video about the artist collective in Ngecha. Come out to the cafe today to view some of the art in person and learn how you can get involved. Wine and cheese will be provided.