Barista Magazine

OCT-NOV 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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AT WHAT AGE did you start dreaming about opening your own coffee shop? Did the idea strike you after working behind the bar six months, a year, five years? Has it been a bucket-list goal even though you've never worked in a service job before? Or was it something you knew instinctively from a young age, like kids who say they want to become astronauts or teachers or marine biolo- gists by the time they're 5 years old? Tucker Lewis and Jennifer Park were 26 and 18, respectively, when they knew it was their calling to open Diesel Cafe in Somer- ville, Mass., but little did they know then that the shop they con- jured together would one day be old enough to vote and creeping up on being legal to buy beer, in human years anyway. Certainly the two friends and business partners didn't dream that one day their labor of love would be older than Jennifer was when they first imagined it. This coming May, however, Diesel will celebrate 20 years in the same location in Davis Square, a nook of a neighbor- hood outside of Boston proper and just northwest of Cambridge, almost due north of Harvard Square. If you think Jennifer and Tucker were young to open a shop to- gether, maybe you're right: Certainly that's a lot of what they were told in those early days (" We heard a lot of 'no's," Jennifer says), but thankfully it didn't stop them—maybe that's just diesel power. " We knew this was something we wanted to do," Jennifer says. "I mean, there were definitely moments—it took us probably at least two and a half years from the time we started thinking about this as an idea to when we opened. There were definitely moments when we felt like we were just at a stand-still. I think we were just like, well, eventually it's just gonna have to happen, because this is what we want." " Yeah, she was only 21 when we opened Diesel, which is quite young," says Tucker. "But don't you think that one of the things about youth is that you're less fearful? I often wonder if I had been older if I might have stopped myself with self-doubt or just other responsibilities, like children. When you're young, you're like, ' We can do anything!'" The two, incidentally, hardly look any older than they did the first day the shop opened—and, as it turns out, they can still do anything: In the passing years they've opened another café in near- by Union Square (Bloc), as well as a baking company (Forge) and an ice-cream shop (Forge Ice Cream Bar), which is fitting, since they met and did their first daydreaming over scoops and cones. " We met in an ice-cream shop in the mid-1990s," Tucker says of Herrell's, the beloved (and now-closed) shop in Harvard Square where she and Jen worked. "Ice cream was where we cut our teeth and where we met, and originally we were kind of thinking, well, could we make an ice-cream shop? We realized that it's not really sustainable in a cold-climate city. I mean, Bostonians eat ice cream all year round, but I was watching them struggle to make $200 a day, and you can't pay rents in Harvard Square on $200 a day in the middle of winter." In addition to the frosty prospect of frozen assets for several months out of the year, the duo found inspiration in their age 70 barista magazine

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