Business

Barista turns owner at KoKo Beans

Bethany Coulic, the new owner of KoKo Beans coffee house in downtown Snoqualmie, plans to maintain the shop’s atmosphere as a community gathering place where local artists can showcase their work. - Denise Miller / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Bethany Coulic, the new owner of KoKo Beans coffee house in downtown Snoqualmie, plans to maintain the shop’s atmosphere as a community gathering place where local artists can showcase their work.
— image credit: Denise Miller / Snoqualmie Valley Record

The Texas firecracker who once owned KoKo Beans has moved on, but the coffee shop’s signature drink, a chili-spiked mocha, isn’t going anywhere, said new owner Bethany Coulic.

“There will be no big changes,” said Coulic, who took over the downtown Snoqualmie shop’s reins in November after former owner John Good faced a series of tough financial breaks.

Coulic, who previously worked as a barista and server at KoKo Beans, Isadora’s and P&G Speakeasy Cafe in Duvall, said she wants to maintain the shop’s feel as a gathering spot.

“That’s my vision. My dream is just to have people being brought together,” Coulic said. “For people who don’t really have a community, they kind of find their community here.”

She plans to continue Good’s legacy of inviting local visual artists to display their pieces on the walls, and musicians to perform in the spring and summer months. The shop’s atmosphere remains casual and friendly. A fireplace warms one corner, and children can occupy themselves with a variety of toys and books. A freshly painted deep red wall adds vibrance to the cozy space.

“Red stimulates passion and appetite,” Coulic said. “It’s a good coffee shop color.”

She is also considering bringing a western theme back to the establishment.

“Snoqualmie was a pioneer town, and we’re right by the railway depot,” Coulic said.

As for the menu, Coulic has added bagels and cream cheese, some new drink specials, and an expanded pastry selection. She would like to eventually get permits to offer some additional healthy food options.

“We’ll see how it grows,” she said.

‘Picture of the new economy’

Good also had hopes of expanding KoKo Beans’ food offerings, until his family ran into some hard economic times.

He said the trouble started when three of the family’s vehicles were totaled in the Valley’s 2006 floods, and they were saddled with much higher payments on new cars.

Then Good’s wife was laid off from work while she was pregnant with their new son, Sawyer, who was born in October. The pregnancy was complicated, and Good missed a lot of work to take care of her and the household.

“I had to be her live-in nurse,” he said.

Around the same time, Good’s position at a technology firm in Bellevue converted from contract to full-time, giving him better benefits but less pay. The Goods were also facing ballooning mortgage payments on their Snoqualmie home.

To avoid foreclosure, they put their house up for sale. They struggled to afford a rental in North Bend until family helped them find a more affordable rambler on Bainbridge Island.

“Our finances got in more and more of a bind, and we came to the realization that we weren’t going to be able to maintain the shop,” he said.

Coulic had mentioned her interest in running her own coffee house, and the sale seemed like a natural fit.

“Bethany has the right attitude and knowhow to do it,” Good said. “She’s doing a great job. I hope everyone supports her there.”

Good also hopes that the Valley would expand on the foundation he helped lay through his work with the Snoqualmie Arts Foundation. Good spearheaded efforts for the Railroad Days Art Walk and a music walk.

Coming back after the flood to help with cleanup efforts felt strange for the Goods following their sudden departure.

“We were sorry we had to leave so quickly. There’s a lot of people I wanted to link up with before we left,” Good said.

Though his current situation isn’t ideal — Good vanpools from his small Bainbridge home to Bellevue for work — he’s happy to have a healthy, newly expanded family.

“You could paint a picture of the new economy with how it has had an effect on our family,” Good said. “It’s the way of the world right now. But things will get better.”

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