Juan and Lauren Vargas

Owners of Nowhere Coffee Co.

Juan: There’s only two places in the U.S. I feel like where you can go down the street and see Dominican restaurants: Washington Heights, New York, and Allentown, Pennsylvania. I feel like I’m at home. I’m American, but I’m Dominican and it feels like it’s just perfect. It was important, being Dominican and having a large Puerto Rican Dominican populace. It just felt right to open up here.

Lauren: There’s a full spectrum represented here. So that’s very, very interesting about Allentown. And that’s not always been the case.

Juan: I feel like the more diversity, the more people we bring into town, just the better, the richer life gets around here. I mean, just seeing all the different walks of life and all the different folks that come in and meet here. It’s just nice to see that.

Lauren: This is our home turf as well. We live less than five minutes from the shop. And what we loved about this location specifically is it is at the crossroads of so many different communities. So it becomes accessible to a lot of communities. Our whole thing is about being here for the community. So it was important to find ourselves a spot that we could be part of.

Juan: Opening up the shop kind of changed my perspective. I fully expected to open the shop and just face microaggressions. And just, I expected racism in my face. I haven’t experienced much of that.

Lauren:  I didn’t even know about how happy people were, for what we were doing and what it meant that we had taken things like putting pronouns on name tags with non binary bathrooms and all that kind of stuff, pride flags. People saying I really respect what this company has done.

Juan: It’s a safe space, you can totally come in here for yourself, do whatever you want, no one’s gonna judge you here. And if they do, they will find a way out the door very quickly.

Interview by Caiti Kinnear ’24


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