Graph coarsening is a technique for solving large-scale graph problems by working on a smaller version of the original graph, and possibly interpolating the results back to the original graph. It has a long history in scientific computing and has recently gained popularity in machine learning, particularly in methods that preserve the graph spectrum. This work studies graph coarsening from a different perspective, developing a theory for preserving graph distances and proposing a method to achieve this. The geometric approach is useful when working with a collection of graphs, such as in graph classification and regression. In this study, we consider a graph as an element on a metric space equipped with the Gromov--Wasserstein (GW) distance, and bound the difference between the distance of two graphs and their coarsened versions. Minimizing this difference can be done using the popular weighted kernel $K$-means method, which improves existing spectrum-preserving methods with the proper choice of the kernel. The study includes a set of experiments to support the theory and method, including approximating the GW distance, preserving the graph spectrum, classifying graphs using spectral information, and performing regression using graph convolutional networks.