LGBTQ+ people have always found ways to create community. From clandestine speakeasies to club floors crowded with celebratory dancers, we have found ways to celebrate love and life. While gay bars have become a beacon for many in the community and tend to dominate conversations regarding gatherings, we hear far less about other types of places to come together. What about those that don’t consume alcohol or desire a place to meet others with a much different vibe? Coffee houses have long been the heart of their communities, where customers can sit and linger, read a book or have a conversation. There are several LGBTQ+-owned and affirming coffee houses all across the United States.
The Pacific Northwest is known for its abundance of coffee houses and cafés. The birthplace of Starbucks has a coffee house for any mood or ferocity of coffee drinkers. Queer and women-owned, Squirrel Chops is a hybrid coffee house/hair salon welcoming LGBTQ+ folks (and their dogs) to gather in Seattle’s Central District. Squirrel Chops affectionately calls its customers “Choppies” and often hosts events with social justice and equity in mind. Visitors can grab a toasted sandwich and a latte before tightening up their undercuts.
Further down the coast in San Francisco is Milk SF, which calls itself “your queer community cafe.” Located in the Mission District, customers are greeted by a large rainbow-painted staircase and art-covered walls. The café hosts weekly events like artist markets, movie nights and drag shows. So grab a Peppermint latte and one of their famous bagel sandwiches and spend the day with your community.
Not all queer coffee houses are on the West Coast, however. The South has its share of coffee-centric community offerings. In Lexington, Kentucky, customers will find Lussi Brown Coffee. For those who are indeed looking to imbibe, Lussi Brown offers several cocktails in addition to its menu of espresso drinks and teas. Named after owners Olivia Lussi and Sarah Brown, you can also pick up a Pride flag-themed Lussi Brown button. Just look for the patio decorated in flags.
In one of this list’s more funky offerings, Greenville, South Carolina’s MODAL is a hostel, coffee house and gathering place for the area’s LGBTQ+ community. All are welcome at MODAL to enjoy playfully named drinks like the Punk’N’Kween, described as, “not your average pumpkin spice latte,” or the caramel apple flavored, It’s a Cin latte. MODAL uses local coffee roasters and tea companies like JUNTO and Dobra. Check MODAL’s calendar for queer-centric events or book a stay in one of their modern rooms.
A three-hour drive from Greenville on 85 is the Atlanta-based Finca to Filter. Queer and woman-owned, Finca to Filter has three locations for the community to visit. Their motto, “Queer and Caffeinated,” is available on shirts and tank tops that customers can wear to the company’s Drag Bingo events or while sipping a Lavender Menace latte.
Heading up to the Midwest, Toledo, Ohio’s Grindhrs Coffee and Community aims to “provide entertainment, hospitality and coffee in a safe space for the LGBTQ community and allies.” Using beans from the Saugatuck, Michigan-based Uncommon Coffee, Grindhrs offers a full menu of coffee and tea lattes, cold brew flights and even ice cream floats. Take part or listen to local talent at Open Mic Night or mark your calendars for an upcoming drag show.
On the East Coast, New York City’s legendary feminist bookshop Bluestockings Cooperative offers more than just excellent literature. Bluestockings is New York’s only queer, trans and sex-worker-run bookstore and offers events like the “Queer History Walking Tour of the Lower East Side” and frequent book launches. The store’s café is completely nut-free and has several vegan and gluten-free options in addition to specialty drinks like the White Peach latte and the signature “Bluestocking” latte.
Finally, the friendly front door of Portland, Maine’s Little Woodfords welcomes visitors with pride and trans flags. Back in January, Little Woodfords temporarily closed due to an onslaught of threats of violence and review trolling after the Portland City Council re-instated a mask mandate and the coffee shop became a target. Little Woodford’s owner, Andrew Zarro, sponsored the ordinance. Now the shop is back to normal operations and offering a place for the community to gather over breakfast sandwiches and Chai Honey lattes.
Do you know of an LGBTQ+-owned or affirming coffee house that we didn’t include? Let us know at email@example.com.