Diesel Love Stories

20 years of tales, triumphs, tidbits and tragedy, as shared by you.

The Original Diesel Love Story – Meeting Jennifer Park

Prelude: My Diesel Love Story is impossible to put to words.  Diesel has meant everything to me in my adult life.  Not only has it been a dream job, it has brought me most of things that mean something to me.  For example, I met my totally dreamy wife behind these counters in 2003.  Without Diesel I wouldn’t be a Mom to my two beautiful sons.  I have made lifelong friendships and met the most interesting, creative and kind people that I could ever dream of meeting. Without Diesel, there would be no Bloc and all of the wonderful people there.  Without Diesel, there would be no Forge and all of the wonderful people there.  Without Diesel, I wouldn’t be reliving my teenage dream by serving up the best ice cream in Somerville at Forge Ice Cream.  This list of Diesel related things that I am thankful for is without limit.  I am in love with Diesel Cafe.  Diesel is my love story.  However, my “official Diesel Love Story” is about meeting Jen, because without her, there would be no Diesel.  I wrote it 13 years ago, when I tried to introduce the Diesel Love Story concept for the first time…in a zine…social media has made this launch of Diesel Love Stories much easier!

The Original Diesel Love Story- Meeting Jennifer Park

I guess it started with coincidence, a lot of it. Perhaps a different way to see it is as a tale of impeccable timing.  Some may look towards something larger, but I tend to lean into the theory of good, old fashioned luck.  I could suspend my disbelief a bit further to accommodate a more scientific approach. Newton’s Law of Gravity states that every particle on the planet is attracted to every other particle and that each attracts at a force that is determined by their proportionate masses and is inversely proportional to their proximity.  It stands to reason that she and I were almost bound to intersect, she being an arguable inch shy of five feet and a few pounds under one hundred and me standing not one hair taller nor one pound heavier.  Gravity had us moving towards each other with a relative pull, complimented by the fact that we had been sharing the same general radius for the better part of our individual lives.  

The history of a single intersection will never cease to amaze.  I know enough to know that the odds are against it.  It doesn’t simply begin with the events that unfolded on that fifth day in December a decade prior.  You can forget about those.  Forget about the fact that I hit snooze an extra time that morning, or hit three greens on my way to work, followed by five long reds.  And forget about the school bus picking up children on the opposite side of Concord Ave, forcing me to stop the requisite fifteen feet back for what seemed like fifteen minutes too long.  Forget that I arrived at my destination on Dunster Street that day some 22 minutes later that I should have.  And similarly, we can forget everything that happened to her that same brisk, winter day – everything that landed her on that Harvard Square corner at the exact moment that I was frantically running by.  We can forget it all because it is simply too big to consider. We can purge the thought of every detail, not only on that day, but for each that came prior.  Each moment had to go just the way it did, from the time that sperm greeted egg in order to facilitate the navigation of our collective gravitation.  And it gets exponentially bigger because each detail matters in the lives that came first and worked to bring us here.  If my Grandfather Ralph’s elementary school teacher hadn’t decided to do the seating assignment in reverse alphabetical order on that first day of forth grade in 1916, who knows what other girl might have sat in front of him and tantalized him with mesmerizing braids of molasses.  Without them I am nothing.  And without their parents they are nothing and on backwards as far as we can conceive. Every last effin’ moment exactly the same, otherwise, it’s all effin’ different.  So, automatically our story begins with more luck than I can conceive, with an infinite (and I do mean absolutely countless) number of details dictating our intersection.  But, for the sake of the story, lets take it from where it faux-begins…Mass Ave and Dunster, we intersect.  

Mass Ave and Dunster, we intersect.

In a single moment, it is near impossible to recognize the ones that someday you will choose to sew together and re-tell your story with.  This love story was one of those moments.  A meeting of chance, that at the time seemed not distinctly different that any other coincidental point of greeting.  And although the fast friendship and four-year love affair that followed were admittedly profound on their own merits, they are still accompanied by a sense of misunderstanding for their significance.  It isn’t every day that you intersect with someone with whom there is unquestionable connect.  This alone should dance somersaults off the pages.  Yet, sometimes you need the benefit of time to reveal the picture fuller.  Sometimes it is impossible to grasp the impact of a single detail until you are allowed distance to understand how something so big could arrive from something so seemingly small.  Without that improbable intersection at Mass Ave and Dunster, there would stand no Diesel at the corners of Chester and Elm, that much I am sure.  It’s unfathomable to imagine that Diesel could have remained a massive mass of potential energy, instead of the heap of kinetic it became, had I not hit snooze and extra time that December morning, one decade prior.

On May 29, 1999, Jen and I gave birth to a two-ton baby, the spawn of our connection.  Our offspring, or what I like to jokingly refer to as our giant love child, we affectionately named Diesel.  And through this child came all of this.  Four walls with boundless space between.  Four walls inside which tell at least four million stories and harbor four million more.  Four walls that seem to connect pretty much everything that means anything to me. 

I often ponder all of the other connections that were made possible indirectly through a meeting of chance – Mass Ave and Dunster Street.  Luck or something larger, it matters not, because I couldn’t feel any more thankful than I do for this big story of my big, big love.  My coffee cup runneth over.

Tucker and Jen – 1997(ish)

A Good Luck Charm

It was more than 20 years ago that I walked into my architectural firm in Davis Square to find Jen and Tucker in our conference room talking to Anne Daw. I was in a suit and tie, having come from a meeting with clients at the Bank of Boston. Everyone there was in a suit. There had not been a tattoo or a person under 5’-4” or 54 years of age in sight. To say that Tucker and Jen were different would be understating it. I was curious why they had sought my company out. My curiosity rapidly bloomed into love for these two fellow entrepreneurs who, to my great good fortune, have become long-time friends.

Jen and Tucker were opening a coffee shop. Their aesthetic matched mine. Their love of their employees matched mine. I wanted them to do more than succeed. I wanted their creativity, their humor, their openness to others, their simplicity and caring and kindness and intelligence to radiate throughout their space. They did that and more at Diesel Café with very little help from me. It turned out that they both had pretty keenly developed artistic sensibilities. And business savvy.

So it has been no wonder then that they have created something much better than a business. They have created a loving family around themselves. A family where every server is an individual, and as interesting as the founding pair at the center. The family there inspires me to learn their names, to greet them by first name when I hand over my orange Mini Cooper travel mug, to feel a part of the art exhibits, proms, and camaraderie that make Diesel unique. It goes without saying that they would do something as interesting as gather love stories for their 20th anniversary.

They have created a loving family around themselves. A family where every server is an individual, and as interesting as the founding pair at the center.

It has been an honor for me as an architect to have been able to help them plan all of their locations. It has been a special honor that they have allowed me to be their first customer at each. Of all my clients in 43 years of practice, I speak the truth when I say they are my favorites, that I love them, and I will always remember them with great warmth and smiles.

Happy 20th anniversary, Tucker, Jen, and Diesel! May you have much continued happiness.

Certain Something Special Had Begun

May 28th, Abby’s 23rd birthday and the night before Diesel opened.

May 28, 1999, the day before diesel first opened its doors was my 23rd birthday. I spent it helping to tackle the endless to-do list Tucker had carefully written out on a massive sheet of butcher paper. As I tightened bolts on the small round tables and arranged cups in the service area, my stomach churned. I’d lived with Parky and Tucker for a year. I knew they were uniquely creative, smart and determined, but with 12 hours before they were supposed to open the door, the list seemed impossibly long and threatened to call into question the entire enterprise. My anxiety was inspired by that neatly written list, but also by my own circumstances. Eight weeks earlier my dad had died of a rare blood disease. In August, I was planning on moving to Oakland to do Teach for America, and a few weeks after diesel opened, I was heading to Houston for the Teach for America training program. As I’d watched the progress at 257 Elm Street over the past few months, I’d been grappling with solid evidence that things don’t always work out the way you plan and wondering what the future would hold. If my seemingly healthy father could up and die in a matter of months, could my friends really create a cafe out of thin air?

I’d been grappling with solid evidence that things don’t always work out the way you plan and wondering what the future would hold.

The idea that would become diesel was first introduced to me as I finished mopping the floor of the service area at Herrell’s Ice Cream in Harvard Square. My manager told me at the end of my shift that I was welcome to deposit my hard earned $5.25 in tips in a 5-gallon plastic bucket. In fact she strongly encouraged me to contribute to “the bucket fund” which when filled with change and crumpled dollar bills would be enough for Tucker and another Herrell’s manager to move to San Francisco and open an ice cream store. While a fan of outlandish dreams and entrepreneurial schemes, I was immediately suspicious of this bucket and its designs on taking two people I adored so far away. I listened enthusiastically to descriptions of this imagined ice cream shop, but held on to my tips out of principle. By the time the bucket was half filled with change they were no longer headed to San Francisco, instead they would open some sort of local business. One day the plan was to open an arcade, a scheme that only Tucker could make sound enticing. Other days they were planning a local ice cream shop. Eventually, I was hearing about a coffee shop named diesel complete with pool tables and an antique gas pump and after a few weeks it was clear that diesel was a plan with sticking power. I watched as they wrote a business plan, bought used equipment from the Liberty Cafe, convinced Somerville city officials to bring pool tables back to Davis Square and signed a lease on the Optical Factory space.

After they had access to the space, Tucker and Parky went to diesel every day. Most evenings I joined them after I finished my job as an after-school teacher. I helped hang the huge sheet of metal that would be the back of the menu board, painted walls, swept up sawdust and asked endless questions. Tucker’s ex-girlfriend, Debbie, was there most evenings as well. One Saturday afternoon, in between wall painting stints, she put money in my tiny truck’s parking meter. I was struck by her thoughtfulness, thoroughness and pragmatism, and wondered if this behavior qualified as flirting. (Lucky for me it did.)

It was an exciting time. Tucker was full of vivid descriptions of what diesel would be and Parky was bursting with the energy and determination necessary to get things done. It was an exciting time, but May 28th, 1999 was my 23rd birthday and for me, full of uncertainty. Parky and Tucker were already testing the power of caffeine to offset sleep deprivation. They were determined to open the next day even if it was only for a few hours. They were exhausted, but focused and their demeanor betrayed none of the anxiety I felt. A parade of well wishers came by that evening: Tucker and Parky’s parents, my mom, Debbie, Gus Rancatore, but there was no time for birthday festivities. We ate M&M’s, drank coffee and kept working. I left diesel at two, the menu board wasn’t entirely finished, Tucker and Parky were still hard at work. I wasn’t sure what time they came home that night, but early the next morning we were all behind a bakery case half filled with elephant ears and bagels. The doors were opened and diesel slowly filled with friends, family and genuine customers. I served drinks in pint glasses and diesel mugs decorated with a tiny construction vehicle. Sunlight streamed through the garage door, I sipped my coffee mixed with sweetened condensed milk, an early diesel standard and I felt certain that something special had begun.

I’m grateful to diesel for so many tangible aspects of my life including my family and favorite friends, but everyday since May 29th, 1999 I’m also grateful to diesel for showing me that the post-Dave Branch world would be full of risk-taking, adventure, joy and dreams being realized. And, for showing me that sometimes things work out even better than you imagined.

Love you diesel!

EDITORS NOTE: The Branch Trio was named in loving memory of David Branch. Dave was a big believer that we [Diesel] would succeed, even at a time when most doubted. There have been many iterations on the menu since to celebrate the Dave and the Branch-Tomsho family, for whom our gratitude is bottomless.

All 4 members of the Branch-Tomsho family wrote Diesel Love Stories. Read them all!

Marriage Meetings

For fourteen years — 2002 through 2016 – I was appointed as a Justice of the Peace for the City of Somerville and over those years officiated just over 400 weddings. I was lucky enough to have been a JP in those particularly joyous days when same sex marriage was approved in Massachusetts. That first week I hosted a “get married” event at Somerville City Hall with catering from local businesses and about a dozen couples joining me in the Aldermanic Chambers. 

In preparation for many of the weddings I officiated I would first meet with the couples at Diesel. It was over coffees there I was first able to hear the stories of how they’d met, what led each of them to fall in love, their visions for their wedding day and for their marriage.  These partnerships were endlessly varied and the space at Diesel was a welcoming one for all people.

These partnerships were endlessly varied and the space at Diesel was a welcoming one for all people. 

  For me, my role as a Justice of the Peace was foremost to be a trusted witness to the vows of these couples. In those many introduction meetings Diesel served as a kind of witness too, a place I trusted to safely hold these conversations that were both intimate and professional, ones to prepare our trio for public declaration of deep and heartfelt experiences. 

Stories With Data

When I first walked into Diesel in 2006, y’all had already been going strong for years. When I moved to Somerville full-time in 2008, it became a refuge and has stayed one ever since, through life changes I couldn’t have even begun to imagine 12 or 13 years ago.

I like telling stories with data, so here are some numbers:

17: the number of text message threads in my phone that result from a search for “diesel”

6: minimum number of times the Diesel logo appears on items in my apartment right now

0: the number of games of pool I’ve won at Diesel (out of…. not zero)
Infinity: the number of times I think of Diesel’s remake when I hear “Call Me Maybe”

1: number of times I’ve had a stress dream involving being a substitute barista at Diesel (I couldn’t find the espresso)

4: number of friends I met at/brought to Diesel who I wish were here to celebrate this anniversary with us. love you Claire, Steve, Amanda, and Al.

4: number of friends I met at/brought to Diesel who I wish were here to celebrate this anniversary with us. love you Claire, Steve, Amanda, and Al.

21: days it took me to figure out that even though lots of my Diesel love story isn’t mine alone to tell, I still gotta tell you I love you, team!

I Would Walk With My People If I Could Find Them

I’d like to say working at Diesel Cafe was my first real job out of college. That makes a tidier story. But it was actually my second.

After undergrad, I’d just got out of a serious relationship (that neither of us really wanted to end), and failed to get into the grad school I wanted. I figured I would take a year off and reapply with my fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I moved to Somerville and started looking for new work. I found a job at a call center. I sat in a cube for eight to eleven hours, speaking to people who were, by and large, not very happy to be on the phone with me.

It paid well, but it was very lonely work. I worried I would be stuck in that job forever, working next to people I would never really know.  And what if I didn’t get into grad school again the next year? What if I had missed my shot–not just at the career I wanted, but my shot at being happy?

Work doesn’t need to be lonely. Life
doesn’t have to be a call center where no one knows your name.

I was listening to a lot of Third Eye Blind at the time, and this line stood out to me: “I would walk with my people if I could find them.” But what if I never found them?

I started looking for new work almost immediately.

After four months at the call center, I interviewed to work at Diesel Cafe. When Parky and Tucker offered me a job, I was delighted; I remember being impressed by how energetic all my new coworkers were, and how friendly.

I knew still hoped I’d be starting grad school the next year, so I asked for the opening shift as soon I could. My thought was that I just had to survive another year, send out another round of applications, and survive.

But I did a lot more than survive. Working at Diesel wasn’t just better than sitting in a call center. It was a lot fun.

Some of my fondest memories are from this time. I’d get to work before the sun was up and set out the pastries. Julia, my manager, would put on “Hold On” by The Alabama Shakes most mornings as the early-morning regulars came in. She taught me how to test the espresso–a process that involved, if the grind wasn’t set right at first, drinking quitea bit of espresso. (Needless to say, my tolerance for caffeine developed pretty quickly.)

I learned a lot about coffee, it’s true, but what I really learned about was work. After a year that seemed to be full of failure—a failed relationship, failed applications–I was with a community of people who were all working on something. We supported each other.

Parky and Tucker themselves were working to open another location (which would become Forge). Tim was working to become a nurse. Plenty of my coworkers were working artists, or working their way through school.

The thing was, we all knew what everyone else was working on, the successes and the failures we endured. And we cared. And I don’t think it was simple dumb luck that the cafe was full of interested, compassionate people who got along with each other. I think it’s something about Diesel Cafe itself, the place and the community, that fosters that kind of caring. I can’t say what that thing is, but I know the world could use a whole lot more of it.

What I learned from Diesel was this: work doesn’t have to be lonely.  If you’re with the right people, and you know them and they know you,  it can even be fun. Even when you’re not at your best.

Maybe that sounds obvious, but when I was twenty-one and full of fear that I’d somehow exploded any hope of my future, and that I was a complete fuck-up, it was important for me to see that you could be a work in progress and people wouldn’t throw you out because of it.

I didn’t work at Diesel very long. I got into grad school, and shortly after that I started teaching. Around three years after I started at Diesel, I switched to teaching full time.

But most days, I still work in Diesel. Between lessons, when I have essays to grade or lesson plans to write, I’ll get a cup of coffee and a Monkey Wrench with mustard, and I’ll set down to get some work done.

Now I’m thirty, and I’m still a work in progress. But I don’t worry about that the way I did in my twenties. I see the folks working at Diesel–both behind the bar and out in the café–all with, one assumes, their own hopes and dreams and ambitions, and their own people. And I feel a little better about our world.

Because of Diesel, I know that work doesn’t need to be lonely. Life doesn’t have to be a call center where no one knows your name. Even when you’re not succeeding, when you’re hurting and afraid, you can walk with your people. You can find them. And sometimes, you find them when you aren’t even looking.

My Heart Onto the Page

When my partner, Mary, and I moved to Davis Square in 2012, we had no idea how lucky we were to have a neighbor like you. From the first moment we walked in and saw your beautiful staff and felt your inclusive vibe, you became our go-to spot for coffee and community. 

(Quick backstory: Mary and I fell in love in San Francisco’s Mission District in 1998 and not since our favorite cafe, The Bearded Lady, had we experienced a vibe as fluid and friendly as Diesel’s.) 

A year later, in 2013, when I began working on my queer, feminist breast cancer memoir, your big red booths gave me a comfortable space to write, and your queer-centricness helped me feel safe as I poured my heart out onto the page. 

When I began working on my queer, feminist breast cancer memoir, your big red booths gave me a comfortable space to write

In 2018, Skyhorse published my memoir, FLAT: Reclaiming My Body From Breast Cancer, and I included Diesel in my acknowledgements (naturally). 
Thank you for being you.

A Life Richer

Shortly after moving to Somerville and leaving an unsatisfying job, I found myself working at Diesel. I immediately felt uplifted by the vibrancy and high energy at my new job, surrounded by multitalented, hilarious, & hardworking coworkers, and by the devoted customers who made Diesel a part of their everyday.  Moving to a new city I had felt somewhat lonely and adrift, but at the cafe I started to feel the sense of home and belonging that I had been missing. Being part of the Diesel community helped me to expand my understanding, discover parts of my identity, and opened my heart to loving more amazing friends than I thought possible. 

Surrounded by multitalented, hilarious, & hardworking coworkers, and by the devoted customers who made Diesel a part of their everyday.

My life is exponentially richer because of the people I know from Diesel- those friends that truly feel like family.  I am aware now that this community was created intentionally, and cultivated through celebrating birthdays and Diesel birthdays, encouraging people to be themselves at work, and making space for creative expression.  The Diesel community also helped me feel more held-together, when we were faced with collective heartbreak.  I am so grateful for you, Diesel.  Happy Birthday!


A Somerville Success Story

Mayor Curtatone (and baby Luca & Elizabeth Warren!) during a visit to Bloc. Joe is a faithful patron at our stores.

20 years!  I met you in 1999 when I was a member of the Somerville Board of Aldermen and you were pursuing your dream.  You were both attending a Board meeting and an item on the agenda was a permit request related to your new business – The Diesel Cafe. I saw you both sitting in the audience (the only people in attendance) and struck up a conversation.  You told me about your new venture and how pumped up you were to start in Somerville (Davis Square).  It was exciting to meet such progressive and innovative entrepreneurs and I lobbied my colleagues for approval that evening. I  testified that “this is exactly the kind of business” activity and investment we needed to support and attract to our community. 

It was exciting to meet such progressive and innovative entrepreneurs and I lobbied my colleagues for approval that evening.

Time has proven us all correct!  Your presence and contributions to our neighborhoods, economy, and the social fabric of the ‘Ville have made a lasting and positive impact on all of us.  You are a true Somerville success story.  Thank you for choosing to call Somerville home and for honoring me with your friendship.

When Diesel was in Diapers

I first started working at Diesel when she was still very much in diapers. She was such a well-loved baby even though she never slept through the night during her first few years. She subsisted on bagel pizzas and breast milk lattes and left a royal mess to be cleaned up by the end of the day. 
But helping to keep her alive and thriving, alongside Tucker, Parky, and the rest of the staff, was so deeply fulfilling during the seven years I worked there. What a gift!
Now she’s all grown up, flourishing despite the injuries inflicted in the early years by the Friday Night Shift, and I couldn’t be more proud of who she’s become or more grateful to have been part of how she started out. 
Here’s to twenty more!

No Matter the Distance

Hi, I love diesel! My friend Sam and I bonded at Diesel in college, and every time she visits, it’s our go to spot. We LOVED the photo booth and always used it as an excuse to goof off. It’s a special place in the story of our friendship, which I’m happy to say continues no matter the distance.


Diesel Cafe turns 20 in May. 

In September, my career in coffee will also turn that big 2-0.  Being a fan of dates and anniversaries, holidays and the such, this isn’t really much of a revelation or surprise for me. It’s been on the brain for quite a while now, especially the past year. It feels easy to go back and remember upon, because it just doesn’t feel like all that long ago. Certainly not two entire decades. Some jobs come and go without fanfare or fuss, but my time at Diesel (7 & a half years- and time well spent, I might add) left an impressive impression. 

I first caught wind of what I thought was going to be “this great new lesbian bar!” from something I gleaned in either Bay Windows or Innewsweekly, back in the days when print wasn’t dead and the Paradise wasn’t just a rock club but had a seedier name-stealer gay bar contender near the Necco factory. We were getting our very own gay bar in Davis Square?! I could sit on a barstool with a bunch of lesbians, listen to better music than I could ever dare to wish to hear at Avalon, get drunk and stumble a whole three blocks home?!?! What a great new addition to our neighborhood! When do they cut the ribbon?    I forget exactly how the paper worded it, but what the article described for some reason had me thinking it was an establishment that would be slinging alcohol, not coffee, to this twentysomething disenchanted salty New England queer. Perhaps they had referred to it as Diesel Bar, instead of Diesel Cafe? Regardless, coffee. 

Oh. Well… I guess that’s fine, too. I mean, Someday Cafe certainly wasn’t getting any younger and on the coldest winter days when you walked past their fogged over windows, you just knew you weren’t getting one of the good seats. Another coffee space in which to hang, to write endlessly in overdramatic journals pounding mocha after mocha, would be most welcome. I never thought I’d find myself working in one. I never thought I’d still be doing it twenty years on, either. And yet. Raise a glass to longevity. It turned out I was in it to win it and Diesel Cafe gave me that bug at the impressionable”young” age of 25 (even then, still older than most of my coworkers in the field). 


Craig always wins at Halloween

It’s not like I even knew what a barista was or how to spell it. I didn’t exactly know or care what went into my Someday Cafe mochas (crack in that whipped cream might have been a vital component. We’ll never know). I liked music played good and loud, art on the walls, good smells and good drinks and good eats and good people to look at. I liked a comfy seat not in my own apartment where I could be around people but not necessarily “with” them. Once Diesel Cafe actually opened, once we were inside it’s splashy primary colored walls with the garage door open in May and some cute, confident gay boys and girls and everything inbetween working behind the counter, I just knew it was the SPACE that I wanted to work in from that point on. 

I let months go by. The entire summer. My husband (boyfriend & roommate at the time) had become regulars. Clubbing we always found to be a bit of a let down, but a good Monkey Wrench paired with a Mocha Slide was guaranteed to knock your socks off on a Saturday afternoon. We started to become friendly with the staff. I think I had sheepishly asked Rusty about a job there and it may have been her who got me the job. I told my full-time cubicle call center warehouse district doldrum job that I wanted to cut back to 3 days a week so I could “go make coffee in my neighborhood!” instead on the other 2 days. For 7 bucks an hour. Plus tips. He humored me and adjusted my schedule. 

I’d worked in restaurants right out of high school. There was never a college plan. When escaping Fitchburg, Massachusetts, one barely got out of high school, made uneasy friends with the folks moving to Somerville who needed any roommate they could get, got a job and worked to pay rent and survive and that was all there was to it. So I’d had experience in the food industry. Just not so much the face behind the counter handling your transaction. Let alone manning the espresso machine. Or making drinks. What is espresso, again? I loved it all so much right off the bat that by the time September 1999 had drawn to a close, I’d given Cross Industries my notice and jumped full time (my boss, shocked, waved a $13/hr pay rate in my face to keep me onboard and I waved it and all the accompanying benefits goodbye) into Diesel Cafe.    The birth of a donkey.    And, by the time I left Diesel Cafe, I had become their first full time general manager and had seven and a half years of experience under my belt.  Experience.    There wasn’t going to be a better place to get it.    Anybody who’s been there, knows. It is not a quiet, slow, sleepy little shop. Diesel, as I remember it, was (and probably still is) really fucking busy. And back then we did it all. We took your order, rang you up (it would be a few years before credit cards came into play there. We actually counted you back your change! Accurately! With pennies!). We grabbed you your pastry (mint brownie, anyone? They’re nice and cold fresh out the fridge!), made you your drink (another Solid Six, Steve? How about a Rusty Slide? A raspberry lime ricky? Would you like dark roast, or light roast? How about decaf? On drip?). After the first five years or so we upped the game from Espresso Express to Intelligentsia straight from Chicago and you eventually even got your latte handed to you with the most delicate of rosettas poured perfectly (painfully! Latte art was NEW to us all! It took me my entire youth to get it down!). We bussed your dishes, asked you politely not to lie across the pool tables even though there were no seats left for you on that Tuesday night, we made your salads and sandwiches fresh made to order and ran across the neighborhood to get you more turkey because we all loved Monkey Wrenches. We shoveled the sidewalks during blizzards and never opened late. When you weren’t looking, we were in the back slicing tomatoes, some of us our fingers, portioning roast beef, putting all of the orders away, making bank deposits, covering each other’s shifts. And we were open til like midnight or something crazy like that, and served NO alcohol! People down here in Austin, TX can not even conceive of that. 

We made your salads and sandwiches fresh made to order and ran across the neighborhood to get you more turkey because we all loved Monkey Wrenches.

 We worked harder and faster and became more efficient as a team as the business grew and grew. Best of all, we managed to have fun doing it, too. What I recall (and what is so very different from the coffee scene today), is there was not a whole lot of pretension amongst us “baristas”. We at Diesel were of a time before any of us knew or cared about national coffee competitions. We weren’t terribly well-versed in varietals, palate development, or even experts in various brew methods (it was drip or die back in the day!), or participating in monthly latte art throwdowns. I don’t ever recall thinking about any of my coworkers “Oh that’s so and so, the resident coffee expert!” because all of us were still learning as we went along. So, in that sense, I don’t ever recall Diesel being the place where the customer was intimidated or overwhelmed by the menu offerings and nobody behind the bar looked down their nose at the guest who always simply wanted a vietnamese coffee each morning. 

So, yes, one of my major takeaways was that at Diesel, we just knew how to work and get things done and we did it all GOOD. The coffee was good, the food was good, the vibes were good. I was never embarrassed by our product and you can’t always say that about the places you work. We constantly hustled and made it look easy. It wasn’t always easy. 

But, we were respected. We were rewarded for our efforts. We were recognized. And (this might sound kind of stupid) we were trained. And retrained. And trained again. We also worked alongside our bosses. The owner of the shop was also your coworker. You don’t know how huge all of that is. It’s the kind of work experience I haven’t really had since leaving Somerville and it’s something that I sorely miss. 

Having been at this coffee game a while now, I’ve seen a shift and a bit of a disconnect in terms of how folks communicate and how information is dispersed. It’s something entering Year 20 that I’m trying to be mindful of in my own day to day. Folks nowadays tend to manage too much through Slack, via email, Basecamp, they’ll leave training manuals on Dropbox for you to download and reference at a later date. I, myself, and am old-school donkey. 

To this day, I still have my dozens of hand-crafted birthday notes, holiday cards, and varied bits and pieces of appreciations and thank yous from my Diesel days, kept in a shoebox under my bed. Every now and then, when I have my “not such hot shit now, are you?” days, my “why am I still in this?” kind of days, my “shouldn’t you be doing something else with your life?” days, I think back on some of those notes and occasionally pull them out and remind myself: “Oh. That’s right. This donkey kicks ass!”  That, comes from Diesel. That, is my fuel.    I’m turning 20 in coffee this year.

 I’ve learned much since leaving Diesel and still have much more to learn. My rock solid concrete foundation will always be Diesel Cafe. It is the slab upon which I have built my coffee career (and it IS a career. Take heed young barista, you too can pay a mortgage on a house with these skills!). It is the standard by which I judge all other places of employment. Heck, I still get recognized in Austin fucking Texas by old regulars who start off conversations with “This might seem like a crazy question, but didn’t you used to work at Diesel?” I never thought I would get visibility from sheepishly asking “Are you folks hiring?” but I am so very glad that I did. 

To 20 more for all involved.

Pure Gratitude

I’ve written so many editions of this love story, since I seem to have so many love stories to share. But the overarching similarity between them all is pure gratitude. 

I moved to Boston fresh out of college, and like so many who wandered through, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Parky interviewed me over Skype during a lunch break from my summer job, and I giddily accepted, knowing nothing beyond the fact that a coffee shop that threw Halloween parties sounded like a fun time. It turns out, Diesel, that working within your doors would become one of the most formative decisions I’ve ever made. Working at Diesel not only gave me a community, but lifelong friends. I didn’t know how attached I could become to a space; with that garage door and counter on the counter; with those rickety pool tables that were a pain in the ass no matter how much energy Shoe put into it, and the photo booth that was a pain in the ass no matter how much energy Shoe put into it; the behind-the-counter pranks and the chai puns and late night drinks after a close. Diesel showed me what strength looked like and helped me find a voice. More than anything else in Boston, Diesel was my home. And the people I met there shaped my life more than I could have ever expected.

Diesel showed me what strength looked like and helped me find a voice. More than anything else in Boston, Diesel was my home.

Even after it was time for us to part ways, Diesel will always be home. The gratitude I have, for the community Parky & Tucker so joyously created, is near impossible to put to words. I am honored to be a part of Diesel’s story, as Diesel will always be a part of mine.

Happy 20th birthday, Diesel. I’ve heard your 20s are suppose to be the best yet.

Enjoying Life.

My first memory of Diesel is carrying my newborn daughter in a baby bjorn, facing outwards, to see the new coffee shop that had opened days earlier. It was apparently on a tragic mission to survive across the street from Starbucks, and for that alone it had my respect. My daughter had been in the newborn ICU for months, and so just getting to walk down the street, not to mention soak in Davis Square and get coffee, was a joy. I still remember the smiling face of the person who served us (not the name unfortunately)– she delightedly greeted my daughter as we stepped inside. Another deliciously ordinary, good thing. This was not a nurse, or a doctor, or a loved one. Just someone from the neighborhood, doing a regular job at a coffee shop, saying hello. Enjoying life.

My daughter had been in the newborn ICU for months, and so just getting to walk down the street, not to mention soak in Davis Square and get coffee, was a joy.

We no longer live down the street, but I do work nearby (with a job I secured over coffee at Diesel, as it happens), and I’m grateful every chance I get to sit down in a booth, sip, and savor what 20 years have brought.
Congratulations to Diesel, you all serve goodness.


self-love noun

\ ˌself-ˈləv  \

Definition of self-love

: love of self: such as

a : an appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue

Everything typed above this line was copy and pasted from Merriam-Webster, the definition of self-love I mean. I would correctly cite it if I could. I think that’s a skill you learn pretty early on in school. In fact, I should note that this entire letter(?) will also probably be grammatically incorrect and the punctuation laughable. Though, I did learn other memorable things in school (high school, not college. I didn’t go to college) that would carry over into my adult life. I learned that I absolutely do not have the attention span to write a paper. I learned that I lacked the confidence to tell my algebra teacher I don’t even know how to do long division. I learned that if your dad dies in 11th grade, no one really cares if you’ve read The Crucible. I learned that the earth is round and the sun is hot and I am 100% not going to make it to my twentieth birthday.

In my high-school, you’re required to write a senior paper before you graduate. It can be a topic of your choosing which I assume is supposed to relate to what you want to be when you grow up, so I did mine on the Creation and Production of Chocolate. I had no fucking idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. What does that question even mean? “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I heard it several times throughout my childhood and no matter the age the answer in my head was always the same.

“I don’t know??? Alive?”

Vickie Woolard, my Sunday School teacher, wrote my senior paper for me that year. Before that, she made sure I had clothes on my back and food on my plate. She reminded me to laugh, and she told me I was the most brilliant kid she had ever met. I was 16 years old and it was the first time I thought to myself that I might make it past my twentieth birthday.

Three years later I accidently moved to Boston. I say that because I had absolutely no intention of leaving my small town in North Carolina. I never had any intention of doing anything really, I was simply existing. I existed in a way that was self taught; I was an only child with absent parents, an invisible family. I was never shown the proper way of navigating life, I only ever witnessed the people around me try and avoid it. So I too, did the same. I was a warrior fighting to save my own life just to find what it means to be at peace. I found that peace when I moved to Boston, I found that peace just before my twentieth birthday.

So I too, did the same. I was a warrior fighting to save my own life just to find what it means to be at peace. I found that peace when I moved to Boston, I found that peace just before my twentieth birthday.

I don’t think Jen and Tucker knew how much they would radically change lives when they decided to open Diesel. I mean, working for them for the past ten years has given me endless memories of love, loss, and everything in between. So when asked to write a Diesel Love Story I had no idea where to begin. My first thought was Jaclyn D Carroll. Soy iced latte, breakfast burrito to go, red lipstick, black high heels Jaclyn D Carroll. She was as powerful as the strongest current and made me feel as peaceful as the silence between waves. The three years I spent with her brought me lessons I never would have learned if not for Diesel. I am thankful for that. But my greatest love came in January 2018 when I unexpectedly fell in love with myself.

Self-love, to me, means finding a certain peace within ourselves – a type of contentment that allows you to sit with your flaws, your mistakes, your regrets, and loving them regardless. I spent my entire life hiding my flaws, my emotions, my mistakes, and I was GOOD at it. Having to love them was completely irrelevant to me because no one knew they existed. This was true up until a moment where I was sitting in a meeting with Jen Park who looked me dead in the eye and said “You’ve never had anyone help you overcome your mistakes have you?” She was right, I hadn’t, and it’s hard to need something you never had the privilege of knowing even existed. From that moment on up until this very second I watch Jen carve out both professional and personal time to make sure I’m growing into the best possible version of myself. I’ve learned how to not only overcome my mistakes but LOVE them along the way. Jen is every teacher, coach, parent, friend that I never had growing up. She is truth, she is stubborn, she is love.

Nothing scares me more than a predictable life. I grew up in an unscripted way that was built on my own internal adaptability and intuition. Because of this, I was blessed with a form of resilience unlike any other. I know that undisciplined ideas are the best ones and Tucker Lewis taught me to look at my ideas as a rough draft and dream deeper. I recently read somewhere that finding the right place and people to share your ideas with is a matter of getting laughed at in a million different ways before you astound the right audience. If Tucker is the only person who bought tickets to my show I would walk away from that still feeling like the luckiest kid alive. She is a silent leader and bursting with magic. She is metabolic fuel that sparks a future for me in a way where I not only want it, I demand it.

I celebrated my 28th birthday six days ago. The day after that  I missed my therapy appointment. Yesterday I received two parking tickets, and today I wrote my first paper. Tomorrow I go to work. Tomorrow I go to Diesel Cafe. Every day I’m growing, learning, loving, existing; except this time with purpose. Diesel has shaped my life into a love story I never thought was possible to read, let alone write. I am proud of the love I have for myself. I am proud of who I grew up to be. I love, and am proud to love my flaws, my mistakes, my emotions, my regrets. To love one’s self, my self, is to love my community surrounding it, and I am me because of you. Thank you.

Big, Bold Ideas

Diesel is so much more than a café – it is a home to civic artisans, social architects and values engineers. It is a space that welcomes big, bold ideas.

I vividly recall this past summer, when dozens of committed and curious constituents of the Massachusetts 7th District crowded in Diesel to learn more about the movement that we were building together. We laughed, we cried, and we got real about the urgency of the times that we found ourselves in.

Every time I walk into Diesel, I’m overwhelmed by the love that Tucker, Jennifer and the entire Diesel family have poured into their café and their community. Twenty years of connections, 20 years of overcoming unique challenges, 20 years of love. Small businesses like Diesel are the heart of our community and the backbone of our economy.

Small businesses like Diesel are the heart of our community and the backbone of our economy.

I’m immensely grateful to Diesel for opening their arms and hearts to me and to every person that walks through their front door. I am so looking forward to the next time I am in Davis Square and can stop into Diesel to fill my cup with coffee and my soul with the love of my Somerville family.

More Than Just One Story

I don’t really know where to begin for my diesel love story.  I guess it’s because it’s way more than just one story.

There’s a Diesel love story for Diesel as an employer. I never imagined I would work there and start living one of those queer lives I used to watch as a teenager. It’s a space where you can both focus on and serve an incredible cup of coffee and also sing Ellie Goulding on the sandwich line five minutes later.  Diesel was a safe space where I could explore my identity and feel supported, by literally everyone. I feel spoiled that my first job after school was one in which my coworkers, managers, and company all care about both each other and our communities so deeply.    

There’s a Diesel love story for the friends I’ve met there. I don’t think I was prepared for the intensity of love, kindness, and personality that would be my coworkers. There’s something about working a 8-hour Sunday rush together during Honk that bonds you to people for life. Even though a lot of us have now work elsewhere, my Diesel coworkers are those life-long friends and relationships that you dream about as a kid. 

There’s a Diesel love story for the love I’ve found there. At Diesel, I met and fell in love with the most incredible human I’d ever met. I don’t know if there’s a world in which Amanda and I would have had the incredible relationship we did without flirting over latte-art, scrubbing underneath the dish room sink, or chasing each other around with Wolf Shirt Wednesday tags. In Diesel, we had a common language and community, a common place to gossip about, invest in, and obsess over. In a lot of ways, we had already chosen the same family before we chose each other. Our love story was entirely built on the foundation of trust, safety, and hard work that Diesel set for us. 

My heart was torn out of my body and Diesel has been there from day one to start building it back, day by day. 

And there’s a Diesel love story for the grief shared there. After Amanda died, Diesel scooped me, my friends, my family, and my dog up into her arms. I don’t know what my world would look like after that without the support of Diesel–the company, family, and community. My heart was torn out of my body and Diesel has been there from day one to start building it back, day by day. 

Royal Treatment

These poems, as I see them, reflect conditions that prevail at the Diesel Cafe.

The “Beautiful Sandwich” is a delight that calls forth how well Diesel patrons are treated day-by-day.

Even the most ordinary order gets royal treatment.

“When Grace at the Bliss Cafe Calls” is much more serious and describes a grief that won’t yield. But, the atmosphere of care and concern, personified by Grace’ phone call gives the reader hope that life can be better.

Instead of Bliss Cafe, Grace could be working at the Diesel Cafe.

EDITORS NOTE: John is a local that found Diesel on our opening day. He has rarely missed a day since. He loves his soup and talking baseball (and conspiracy theories;) John is a friend to all. He writes staff cards on their birthdays, drops off chocolates on random holidays and always greets with a smile. We are the ones getting the Royal Treatment! Thank you John!

Group of Weirdos

Hello Diesel and happy 20th birthday!

I vividly remember when Diesel opened when I was a teenager and friends going to check it out on the weekends. I thought what is this place? I eventually became a customer, had a art show there then a few years later became a employee. To say Diesel has a special place in my heart is a understatement. I got the job there when I was particularly going through a really hard time and the timing couldn’t have been better. I was immediately welcomed with open arms into a group of weirdos that would become my family.

I was immediately welcomed with open arms into a group of weirdos that would become my family.

Midway through my Diesel career I started to attend hair school. Between school and work I would sleep on the back shelf on top of the sugar bags or below the coffee beans and scare the shit out of any one on the Cindy shift.  My closing crew were my life savers. I was exhausted and probably cranky but could instantly have a smile on my face while on the floor with some of the funniest people I now call my friends. Every Tuesday as we blasted the Dirty Dancing soundtrack while cleaning and  I knew I was lucky to have found them.

The friends I made at Diesel have changed my life forever and I can’t imagine life without them. I met art collaborators and band mates there. At one point 3 out of the 4 Electric Street queens were Diesel Alum. We even made a music video where if you look in the crowd there are A LOT of Diesel fam as extras. Thanks for giving me a killer community who I get to make music, art , dance and laugh with .oh and I guess the coffees pretty good too.

Happy birthday!Love,Cocohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuT5t5xafbc

Coming of Age at Diesel

In 2002, I moved to Boston (nearly sight unseen) with two friends from college (College of William and Mary in Virginia). We had no idea how to exist in the world, but found Diesel as a haven.  Me (a fledgling gay man) and another roommate (a queer woman) spent hours at Diesel — in awe that gay culture existed.  

My roommate brought tons of dates (off Craigslist!) to Diesel and I fell in infatuation with a guy I *think* worked there (beefy with a sweet smile). 
We all went our separate ways after a year in Boston (New York, North Carolina, DC) but the last thing I did before moving my U-haul down I-95 was stop at Diesel.

My roommate brought tons of dates (off Craigslist!) to Diesel and I fell in infatuation with a guy I *think* worked there (beefy with a sweet smile).

Fifteen plus years later, I’m married to a man from Boston and we have a six-week-old little girl.  We might move up there next year and she’ll be sitting with us as we get our iced lattes and monkey wrenches.

Saturday Morning Breakfast

Dear Diesel,
My moms have taken me to you for longer than I remember. I have so many memories from growing up with you as a part of my life. Being afraid of the halloween decorations. Going downstairs and being amazed that there was a whole other world underground. Taking photos with my baby brother sitting on my lap in the photo booth.

Taking photos with my baby brother sitting on my lap in the photo booth

Clicking away on the typewriters. ‘Playing’ pool, which really consisted of rubbing that red dust on the cues. Leaving preschool to go to prom at Redbones, where I got to wear my light purple flats and talk into a microphone and dance. Cranking that counting thingie on the counter to see how high of a number I could get. But, most importantly, walking to Diesel for Saturday morning breakfast, sitting at the big table in the back with my family, seeing familiar faces, noticing new items on the menu. Diesel will always hold a special place in my heart, it’s where my parents met, and was created by two people I love dearly. I love you Diesel, I wouldn’t be who I am today without you.

Maisy’s 2nd Diesel Prom

EDITOR’S NOTE: All 4 members of the Branch-Tomsho family wrote Diesel Love Stories. Read them all!

Thanks a Latte

In September 1999 one of my best friends (Mónica) and I moved to Somerville. We were fresh out of undergrad and trying to figure out our way in Boston. We were overwhelmed, optimistic, naive, excited, and felt the blessing and curse of new adulthood on our shoulders. We walked into Davis Square from our apartment and slowly started to feel like we’d found our new home. Diesel was a huge part of that. 

Mónica flirted with everyone behind the counter. We went far too often so that she could catch the eye of a certain barista. I consumed far more chais with soy milk than my AmeriCorps salary warranted. We watched our roommates meet new people and the first place where the new girlfriend/boyfriend met us for, um, screening purposes, was at Diesel. We watched as the Starbucks went up across the street with the graffiti on the plywood that said, “Starbucks makes Dan sad.” When my boyfriend (now husband) came to visit from NY and I was at work he’d curl up at Diesel and read. I’d get so excited when my punch card was full! (Okay, I still get excited about that.)

As the years went on and we moved away and came back with different people and in different apartments, Diesel was the same even as it expanded and morphed into an updated and even cooler space. At its core it was still the same. 

In the early 2000s, my aunt and her wife came to visit me and I remember bringing them into Diesel. They said, “Um, is it Pride and no one told me?” And I said, “Nope, it’s just Saturday.” Multiple times they came back to visit and Diesel was always the priority stop. They visibly relaxed and got re-energized every time they went in. 

Around the time Diesel turned 10 I had a new baby. Walking down to Diesel and getting a chai with soy milk (some things never change) became one thing in my life that made me feel normal. I might have been sleep deprived, might be wearing bizarre clothes because everything else had spit up all over it, and may not have showered that morning, but I was able to get a baby and me out of the house and get a treat for my efforts. Thank you Diesel for helping me feel normal again!

I no longer live in Somerville, but when we travel from NY to the Boston area my now 10 year old daughter always has us put Diesel on the Must list. She can’t believe that she was wheeled in via running stroller for me to get tea. 

Diesel always makes me feel welcome, makes me feel a little more centered, and always makes me appreciate the now but get nostalgic all at the same time. 

Diesel always makes me feel welcome, makes me feel a little more centered, and always makes me appreciate the now but get nostalgic all at the same time

When Mónica and I saw your 20th anniversary messages we instantly ran down memory lane. In great part, Diesel helped us grow up. Watching two independent, really cool women open and successfully run Diesel truly made us say, “I want to be like them when I grow up.” (Even though I doubt you were much older than us at the time. It just took us awhile to get ourselves together.)

Mónica and I are currently launching a podcast called The Good Girls Recovery Club. Its goal is to empower women stuck in the ‘good girl’ stereotype to break out of the limits that such stereotypes cast on them. It would be a podcast distributed nationally among all podcast platforms. We are in the preproduction stages at the moment but are looking to involve some of the most popular influencers in the media (artists, authors, youtubers, etc.)

We were wondering if you’d be willing to let us interview you for the podcast? Specifically we were wondering if you’d be willing to talk about the messages women hear when launching a business – especially in 1999 when being a women-owned, pro-LGBTQ business was far from the norm in what was then a community morphing from blue collar to hipster. Perhaps we could record an episode at Diesel and help celebrate the anniversary? 

You can check out our website: www.goodgirlsrecoveryclub.com. Again, the show is still being developed so the site is updated frequently. 

Again, Happy Anniversary and thank you a latte (I couldn’t resist) for all that you did for us (still do!) to help us grow and for all that you do for the community! So, so happy for you!

Sending you lots of chai love

Editors note: We have accepted Good Girls Recovery Club’s request for an interview and will let you know when it’s live (assuming they think we have anything of interest to say…)

Slinging Lattes and Monkey Wrenches

Just before falling head over heals in love with the love of my life, I was lucky enough to be part of the Diesel family.  Slinging lattes and monkey wrenches along side some really lovely people made me feel at home in a new land.  To this day, I consider Diesel to be the best place I have ever worked for the people, the love, and the genuine appreciation for the work.  Also, because Diesel Cafe is where I met Chara. Chara and I worked together at Diesel on random shifts on occasion.  I always enjoyed her sensibility, style, and kind words standing beside her on the sandwich making station.  On New Years Eve 2003 she invited me to join her at the Clarendon house for the annual NYE party.  We had a great time, ended up in bed together, and the rest is history.  We have been married 15 years and have an 8 year old son.  

I can’t imagine any other life than the one with her in it.  Thank you Diesel!

Livin’ La Vida Loca

Diesel, when it first opened, was the enemy.

I was in the Someday Cafe camp. You probably don’t remember, but Someday Cafe was a grungy cafe in the current location of the creperie with a very, um, lived-in vibe. The menu was Star-Trek themed. Seating consisted of uncomfortable plastic chairs in the shape of human hands. Phish was playing in the background. But that was where I had planted my flag, and there was no way I was going to hang out in that new, shiny coffee shop with a motorcycle in the window, cool-looking employees, and beautiful garage doors that were thrown open on nice days.

I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but slowly I made the transition. Maybe one day I couldn’t find a seat at the Someday. More likely, I couldn’t take the music. And I haven’t looked back.

Since then, I have written and/or illustrated at least part of EVERY one of my 13 picture books at Diesel cafe. There is a creative energy here (I’m typing this in Diesel right now!) that I don’t find anywhere else. The music is just the right amount of loud (currently playing, ahem: “Livin’ La Vida Loca”), I can always find a seat (I shall not my reveal my advanced techniques for obtaining a window seat), and I get way more done here than I do at home.

I have written and/or illustrated at least part of EVERY one of my 13 picture books at Diesel cafe. There is a creative energy here

The conversations I overhear have changed. I used to hear people talking about friends’ bands and art shows, about parties, about who hooked up with whom (I’ve overheard several couples break up before 9 in the morning). Now the conversations are business meetings, words like “angel investor,” “forward-facing,” “scalable,” and “circle back” are thrown around, and there are many untucked button-down shirts and expensive-looking sneakers.

But the spirit of Diesel lives on. What I’ve admired about Tucker and Parky, from the beginning, is how they just get shit done. They have been unabashedly LGBTQ+ friendly, long before, it was “fashionable” to do so. They have been environmentally-conscious long before it was expected to be so (one day the trash cans just disappeared!). They have supported countless artists, locally sourced their food, and donated a portion of sales to many charities. All without drawing attention to the fact that were doing these community-building things. And they have played way better music.

Some days, I sit by the open garage doors, looking across at Starbucks while stealing their internet, and wondering about the people who would choose to go there. And I know that we’re all having a much better time across the street.

Power Outage in the 90’s

I have fond memories of Diesel being a haven when we used to live in Davis.  One night we lost power in our house, so we walked around the neighborhood and came upon Diesel open — we played pool and probably drank tea, and had a grand old time.
Love Diesel and so incredibly proud of you, Tucker, for making it a success — and Jen too, of course, and the great staff.
Happy 20th!

Really Big Important Things

I started working at Diesel in the Spring of 2013.  I had packed one suitcase and taken a train from Rochester to Boston, one way.  I had recently broken up with my boyfriend in NY, and what had at first been amicable turned violent.  I was left broken, scared, lost and lonely. My sister and her wife lived in Somerville and they offered to help me get a new start. My sisters’ wife had a connection and before I knew it I was in the fast paced, coffee grinding, avocado throwing whirlwind that is Diesel Cafe.  From the moment I stepped onto that floor I was taken under the wing of the Diesel community, I was taught valuable lessons in tolerance and acceptance for things that I had been ignorant to.  I heard new music, tried new food and got blissfully lost in the universe unfolding before me. Working at Diesel was all consuming.  Your co-workers were your friends, your enemies, your teachers, your lovers, your ex’s, your friends’ lovers, your friends’ ex’s, your sandwich line singers, your drinking buddies, your climbing buddies, your home, your hell, your family.  Diesel was love.  Diesel was loving everyone for who they were, whether it was your best friend, your manager, your upset customer, your belligerent wanderer, they taught us that everyone deserved to be understood, cared for, empathized with. Things happened at Diesel, really big important things, and really small important things. We got devastating phone calls in the break room, we had first kisses, we put art on the walls and also decorated those walls on Halloween with unconstrained laughter and folly. We built friendships over beers, and sweat and monkey wrenches.  We needed those friendships when the worst things happened to us, to our friends.  We needed that understanding when our friends grieved the unimaginable. We needed the sticky tables of The Burren to keep us from falling apart,  the darkness of Underbones to hide our tears, and the Whiskey of Saloon to revive our hearts.  Diesel created a community, made up of not only the souls who labored in her, but of the patrons, the friends, the vendors, the neighbors, the sounds and smells of everything and everyone who inhabited her or surrounded her. Diesel is a ship, who’s soul carries with her the mark of all who have known her, sought shelter on her decks and ridden rough seas under her sails.

Diesel is a ship, who’s soul carries with her the mark of all who have known her, sought shelter on her decks and ridden rough seas under her sails.

The people I found at Diesel are still my co-workers, supporters and closest friends, I see them everyday and everyday I am reminded of the amazing community that was built by those who built Diesel – I will forever be grateful to you for creating and sharing it with me ❤

Return to Oz

I once had a Couchsurfer named Candy Royalle. We connected immediately over our partly shaved heads and over poetry. She was going to stay 3 days and she ended up staying a couple of weeks. On her way out of Boston, and back to Australia, she asked where she might stop for coffee and do a little writing. Out-and-proud and fierce as hell, I told her to stop at Diesel. She loved it.

Candy was a force to be reckoned with. She passed away last June at the age of 37. She touched many lives and was an activist until the end. Exactly a year ago, I told my friend on her birthday, “I love you” over an online chat. It was the last thing I would ever say to her.

Rest in power and poetry, Candy.

Rest in power and poetry, Candy. She only graced your establishment briefly, but she was there. Look her up (she’ll pop up first thing in the Google). May her legacy live and love on.

Changed Forever

Diesel will always be a huge part of my life. It was there that I met the love of my life. I was new to the online dating world and decided a coffee shop was a safe place to meet someone online. It was April 16, 2011 that I would walk into Diesel and forever be changed.

It was April 16, 2011 that I would walk into Diesel and forever be changed.

We sat for hours just talking and getting to know each other. I still vividly remember that day, what she was wearing, what I was wearing, the fact we talked for 2 hours before we realized we never even ordered any drinks! That was the start of the most amazing relationship I have ever had. Although our commute to work has changed and we no longer visit as much as we used to, we still make a point to go back every April 16th (or as close to that date) to celebrate the both of us taking a chance! 
We will be married 4 years come this September! 
Thank you Diesel ❤ 

Entrepreneurial Misfits

In the summer of 2005, I moved to Medford, MA with my college roommate, Steve, after convincing him to start a startup with me. That company ended up being Reddit and over the next year and a half we toiled away on it. None of the apartments we rented had A/C, so I’d come to Diesel during those hot summer days and literally spend all day long there because the A/C was cold and the coffee was hot. I tried to keep buying and tipping enough throughout the day that people wouldn’t get pissed at me, which seemed to work, because no one complained. I’m so happy it’s still thriving. May another generation of entrepreneurial misfits come through in order to get a cup of the good stuff and work on creating their little piece of magic.

My Deep, Queer, Freak Face

“I work at Diesel”, I was always proud to say. As well as, of course, “No, not the clothing company.” 

 “We are more – queer as in fuck you and less gay as in designer jeans”, I’d tell people in the era of my life that orbited Diesel Cafe.

  My deep, queer, freak face moved to Boston in 2003. I moved there to attend Emerson College and quickly discovered that the TQ’s of the LGBTQ spectrum were not the gays at my college. I had queer family in NY, so I arranged my schedule so that I could be a full-time student, work at my school’s Career Resource Center 25 hours a week, and still spend weekends in NY to be my true self and surround myself with queer family. 

Cheena Marie Lo was a new freshman in my sophomore year. When I met Cheena, I knew immediately that I had finally found queer family in Boston. In one of our first hangs, we went deep into queer resource sharing. We talked queer music, disclosed what thrift stores we got our clothes from, and Cheena blurted out their love for this one café in Somerville. I had never been to Somerville before but it wasn’t long after this raving endorsement that I jumped on the red line. 

*A decade later, Cheena lived above me with their partner in a gay melrose place style home in Oakland, CA.

Patrick Kelly was the first Diesel family I met. Patrick’s blend of introversion, epically subtle wit, brilliance, and beautiful face drew me to them right away. I ordered a coffee, put half and half in it until it turned into coffee milk, added a pack a Splenda and dreamed of my new life as a barista with my new family. 

*Patrick and I recently found ourselves holding each other while watching the best reality TV show “Goggle Box” at their home in London. 

  It wasn’t long before I found myself at the counter, nervously asking for an application. Sara Cooper answered me with a puzzled look. Since people rarely left Diesel, they hadn’t done any hiring recently. Sara went in the back to inquire if Diesel was in fact, hiring. Turns out they were and applications were under the counter. However, since Sara had no idea where to find this application they said, “why don’t you go ahead and just make your own”. Sara’s combination of charm and sweet disinterest inspired my first Diesel art project. 

Laura Gillespie (LG) and I were the first two new hires in some time. I wasn’t sure how I felt about LG. We both quickly started hooking up with the same co-worker (as Diesel baristas sometimes did) and this officially started us off on the wrong foot. One day, we went for a walk after our shift and LG very articulately broke down why hooking up with co-workers was a bad idea. Having a Scorpio Moon (I live on the west coast now) and hearing some brilliant genius talk through the politics of gettin’ it with your co-worker was a bad idea (when we were, in fact, both doing said act) made LG my first Diesel enemy. Fast-forward to my stubborn ass letting go of this silly nonsense, quickly calling it quits with the coworker and falling madly in love with Laura Gillespie. 

*LG now lives a short 6-hour drive south of me and we make a point of being with each other all the time. 

Steve Mcfarland started at Diesel as a bright-eyed, enthusiastic, pretty, tall glass of water. Many months before Steve started, I had begun to fully actualize my trans identity. I was always genderqueer but getting to be in this family of queer freaks allowed me to consider my gender truths in new and different ways. I changed my name while at Diesel and leaned into the stud I always knew I was inside. Steve was drawn to the confidence and self-actualizing that Diesel helped me have and very sweetly asked me on a date. My response was something along the lines of “so you want me to be your boyfriend?” and probably, “I didn’t know you were into faggots.” From this moment on, Steve Mcfarland has always been referred to as my forever boyfriend. 

*Recently, I went to Denmark to visit my boyfriend and their beautiful wife and sweet baby.

I could go on for many moons in talking about the family that came from and stays with me from my time at Diesel. Parky and Tucker created a family and allowed me to be a part of it and for this, I am forever grateful. From Diesel Halloweens and Proms, from always getting respected and recognized and paid well, from meeting too many loved ones to name – I am forever a Diesel super fan. Happy 20 years babes. 

*This is the photobooth picture that I attached to my Diesel application. Thanks Diesel for hiring this queer trans freak and loving me for a lifetime!

Everything Happens at Diesel

My life is crowded with incident so there is nothing I cherish more than sitting down at a table with a book and my favorite tea right in the window of Diesel.

Diesel is like my living room.

Diesel is like my living room. Everything under the sun has happened there. From prom, to book signings, to art openings, to acoustic shows, to actually just sitting down with a friend for tea – Diesel has been a major part of my life for 20 years.

My partner Walter Sickert has even created art dedicated to Diesel because it has been such an important part to our artists life. 
Here’s to at least 20 more years!
Love & Tentacles- Edriearmyoftoys.com

My Life is a Diesel Love Story

Writing my wedding vows was easier than writing my Diesel Love story. Vows are just for one person.  But this, writing about MY DIESEL LOVE STORY, is just so big and so vast and so so so incredibly deep. There is not a place I turn in my life that the four walls of this establishment has not touched.  

In college I would travel from the other side of the river to visit Diesel on a regular basis. Diesel is place where I felt comfortable in my own discomfort of my awkward early 20s.  After graduating from college my dear friend Casey helped me get a job at Diesel Cafe in 2003.  On the second day of training, I was trained by Tucker, one of the owners. It was really in an instant that I just knew she was special. Like the kind of special that is rare in this world —and for anyone that has the privilege of spending even a brief moment with her, you know what I’m talking about. I quickly fell for her and fell hard. 

Diesel is a place where friendship and family is made: Fast-forward a couple years later and Diesel was the primary place I wrote my thesis.  As someone who struggles with writing (hence the difficulty of this story), the coffee and connection of Diesel was such necessary fuel for creativity and productivity. (The other diesel love stories prove I’m not alone in that feeling!) As the years went by, the diesel family grew; new friends were made, new connections nurtured. Tucker and I got married.  And my family grew into our family.  

We now have two little ones—we try hard to foster the importance of love, connection, and acceptance.  To me, this is the foundation of what Diesel was built on.  As a social worker, I work to provide homes to the homeless.  Creating a “home” is so much more than just the four walls and a roof. It’s about finding connection and belongingness, which has been a theme in my life and one that Diesel was so essential in helping to form.  

Diesel taught me if a person can find this belongingness and connection, then they can grow and bloom into infinite possibilities.  Diesel taught me the importance of accepting everyone from all walks of life. Because we all have a common bond. We are all just a step or two away from being “the other.” And to remain alone and isolation is a recipe for disaster and regression for all of us. 

Creating a “home” is so much more than just the four walls and a roof. It’s about finding connection and belongingness, which has been a theme in my life and one that Diesel was so essential in helping to form.  

I am forever grateful and forever in love with the space that Tucker and Jen created.  Not just for myself, but for my kids/our kids, and for the greater community. I am so thankful for my super human wife Tucker and our two little boys—who I just know are certain to pass along the continued love and connection, in whatever form/outlet works for them. I am eager to witness what unfolds and refolds and unfolds again within these four walls over the next 20 years.

From the bottom of my heart thank you for adding this richness and foundation to my life.

Happy 20 Years Diesel!

20 Miles on 95

Diesel was the salve to my young, closeted, queer heart stuck in suburbia in the late 90s. It was the place where I escaped on long nights during high school summers, driving 20 miles on 95 just to be surrounded by coffee and queers. Diesel was there when I was on break from college in upstate New York in the early 2000s, always familiar and welcoming as I struggled to figure out who I was. Diesel was waiting when I flew from Washington, DC to bring my first true love home to visit my parents more than a decade ago. 

It was the place where I escaped on long nights during high school summers, driving 20 miles on 95 just to be surrounded by coffee and queers.

Now I’ve been married for 8 years to that first true love. I have two young kids, and I live 400 miles away. My parents are no longer in Cambridge and I no longer visit Somerville often. But Diesel will always have a special place in my queer heart, even though it’s no longer young. Congratulations on 20 years!

Want to Get Some Coffee Sometime?

15 years ago I was working at Diesel Cafe and had noticed this cutie who would come in to the cafe some times. One night they came in and all night I tried to get the courage to ask them out. When they left the cafe before I made my move, my coworkers (Anne Browning and Dez Marcello), who were likely sick of me talking about this person, suggested I just run after them. Duh. So I finished the chai latte I was making and dashed out the door to the left, towards the Burren. They had already turned left at the liquor store and was almost to the Rite Aid. I paused behind them and said, um, excuse me, would you want to get coffee sometime? They said, don’t you work at a coffee shop? In my head I sighed in relief that they recognized me at least. I went back to the cafe with their phone number and name.

That night I looked them up on Friendster from my parent’s house.

That night I looked them up on Friendster from my parent’s house. This was a month before I moved to Somerville. After a fun first date at Red Bones, we dated for a couple weeks, and then mutually decided we wanted to be friends. A year later we were roommates with two other women, and 15 years later we’re still friends. Meggie Woods now lives in Oakland and I live in Seattle. I’ll never forget the adrenalin I felt after running after Meggie that evening, and I’ll always be grateful for how Diesel has given back to me over and over and over again. 

Sounds of Our Daily Life

I was a 23 year-old queer kid moving from rural North Carolina to Boston when I first stepped foot in Diesel just 2 weeks after the café opened. Little did I know that Diesel would be providing more than a much needed break from a frustrating apartment search.  Like for so many others in our community, over the past 20 years, many of the key adult moments of my family’s life have taken place in that bustling café at 257 Elm Street. Distracting my now wife from her graduate studies at Harvard, planning our wedding and my transition, deciding to have a child (and then another) -all of these have taken place at Diesel. Diesel has gone from being the first place outside of our house that our children went to my teenager’s favorite hangout with his friends. The sounds of coffee mugs on a table, the feeling sitting on the counter stools, and the sound of Al moving across the café became embedded in the sounds of our daily life.

The people, though, are what took me from stopping in during and apartment search to a regular Diesel patron in short order.  Several years into my daily Diesel habit, when our son, Yoni, was born we were exhausted new parents who couldn’t quite summon the energy to walk down the bike path for our daily Diesel run. Two days after we returned home from the hospital, Jess showed up on our front porch with our standard order. It was an incredibly kind gesture and over the years she quickly became our son’s favorite Diesel staff member.

In 2013, my wife Carolyn and I both ran the Boston Marathon as a celebration of our 10th wedding anniversary to raise money for the housing agency that I work for. So many of the staff donated to our efforts, asked how training was going, and fueled us after long runs. We stopped at the café on the way to the race and received a rousing send off from the staff. We were laughing so hard that we cried. Those high fives and hugs kept us going through the race and all of the hard emotions as we walked home that day from Kenmore Square after the bombings.

Those high fives and hugs kept us going through the race and all of the hard emotions as we walked home that day from Kenmore Square after the bombings.

The following morning, we again stopped at Diesel on the way to retrieve our finish line bags. Just getting out of bed that morning was tough and so a stop at one of the only places that felt safe in that moment felt important.  I’ll never forget the sight of Peter vaulting the counter as we walked into the café, hugging us and telling us how worried he’d been. He and others cycled by our booth that morning with support and coffee. 

While the coffee and food at Diesel is second to none, it doesn’t even rate when compared to the thousands of moments of joy and kindness that I’ve seen and experienced because of the staff.  Jen, Tucker and the countless staff over the last 20 years, thank you for building a second home for so many of us. Your community is incredibly grateful and looking forward to celebrating you as we all grow old!

Great Friendships Forged (Get it?)

i met my best friend because of diesel cafe. despite the fact that we both had gone to the same university, hung around the same kind of academic circles and friend groups, and had a lot of the same interests, we didn’t formally meet until we were both working behind the counter at diesel cafe. near instantaneously, will became my best friend. will was the first person i had met who loved joanna newsom as much as i did, who liked closing, who was queer, who got me.  the environment at diesel brought us together.  at diesel we had a family for weirdos like us.  we closed nearly every night together, moved in together after a >a year of friendship. will became my family, just like diesel is my extended family. ❤ i’m so grateful for the community i have at diesel and i love giving back any opportunity i can. 
thanks tucker and parky! 

will was the first person i had met who loved joanna newsom as much as i did, who liked closing, who was queer, who got me.

this isn’t even mentioning all the other great friendships i’ve forged (Get it) thanks to this wonderful business, but my friendship with will is definitely the most special. even though will lives in new york now, we talk on a daily basis. ❤ my best friend ❤ 

An Ode to the Diesel Bathrooms

Your door, always ajar

Beckoning me into your fluorescent fold

Mirror reflecting the purple hue of an obsidian space 

I take out my phone, snap a picture, capturing a moment

When my bone structure looks great, but also I felt held 

You’ve been there in times of need

When my stomach and I disagreed after eating cheese for the first time in years

When I was dumped under the schematic of a diesel engine 

You always provided a selection of Select bathroom tissue 

To dry my tears

And to wipe soap off the sink from the person before me

You’ve been there in times of anxiety 

When Honk just honked one honk too many 

When the imminent judgement of a stranger awaited me on Elm 

With the lock of that sticker covered door 

Was a sanctuary, free of scrutiny, bereft of sound 

Rich with the scent of others before me

I lean against the metal pipe fence

Others agitated, but I am calmed by the knowledge

That the wait for you is always worth it 

You can knock all you want, stranger,

I’m going to be in here for a minute

57 Years of Memories

The hardest part for me about writing this Diesel Love Story is that there isn’t necessarily a story: stories have beginnings, middles, and ends. I’m an English teacher now, I get to know that. And my story, of the real, meaningful, lasting friendships that came from working at Diesel Cafe only has a beginning (and maybe some rising action). Also, the word “story” is singular. I have 57 years of memories, connections, triumphs, and shame-filled moments all tied to this ridiculous place and the people who have called it a job or a home to even begin to be able to pick just one.

Actually, now that I think about it, I think that almost all of the meaningful relationships I have currently, as a post-college adult, all somehow stem from working at Diesel. Huh. Would you look at that! It seems I owe a great deal to this place and, especially, its people, for how I have grown and changed and lived for the last nine years. 

Because without Diesel, I would never have met most of the amazing people I’ve created amazing memories with. I would never have made some mistakes that allowed me to grow as a person. I would never have been able to take any career risks. I would never have realized that I can’t keep a straight face while shooting a music video parody. I’ve learned and experienced so much because of Diesel Cafe. For its goods and it bads, its zeniths and nadirs, Diesel has had a hand in so much of my life.

[Without Diesel] I would never have realized that I can’t keep a straight face while shooting a music video parody.

So I guess that my Diesel Love Story is continuous. It is ongoing. It is happening all around me, every day, in all the moments I have with my friends and community. Because, somehow, Diesel is what has made my life richer, fuller, (drunker), and more full of love and adventure than it ever was. And my journey continues.

Good Time Then, More to Come

-I moved here in late 2000, and in the spring of 2001 I asked my cousin for good places to sit and draw and people watch. She suggested this cafe in Davis Square. Some people like bars. I don’t. They’re loud and dark, I don’t drink beer, and standing around in a crowded space filled with noise and booze is unappealing. But a cafe, where I can sit, and eat, and draw, and where good music is playing, that’s my speed. Diesel had great food and an unusual interior décor, like exposed pipes, an actual motorcycle, and that crosswalk light. Certainly customers varied in age, but the place had a youthful energy that well matched how I felt in this new city. With a sketchbook and markers I’d head over at 9 or 10pm — Diesel was open until midnight or 1am, depending on the day, and felt lively even up until closing time. I drank a lot of hot chocolate, and drew, and thought about my place in Greater Boston. Davis Square felt lively in a different way than it does now. There were fewer restaurants and more small retail stores. The Someday Café had a similar vibe to Diesel (although more hippy and ratty), while across the street a book liquidator offered deals on remainders, next door McIntyre & Moore stocked a wealth of used books, and across the intersection the Somerville Theatre played second run movies. I didn’t have to be at work until 9 or 10 in the morning, so hitting a cafe late wasn’t a big deal. I developed a crush on a barista or two, and I became friendly with several employees, and was even invited to and attended Diesel Prom twice! 

Diesel was open until midnight or 1am, depending on the day, and felt lively even up until closing time.

-When Tucker and Jen knocked down the rear wall and expanded, I was impressed. If you never saw the original footprint, Diesel used to stop where the crosswalk light is. I’m trying to recall – only one bathroom? That renovation and the improvements along the way have impressed me. The registers have moved, the napkin/utensils/milk bar has as well, a few tables plus a narrow bar with stools have vanished to make room for signage and that bench where folks wait for their to-go orders, and the entire cash wrap was replaced with a gorgeous, custom piece. These improvements planted a seed such that when I started a business nearby, I had it in mind that every few years if an idea presented itself to change something in our physical space, a bookcase or a sign or a fixture or a layout, we could and should. The high efficiency hand driers in the restroom, too. I’ve got one of those in my small business as well. Along the way, Tucker and Jen even opened two additional establishments! That’s not an idea I can copy – not enough time. My wife used to work in food service and retail, and noted when her managers were incompetent or the owners were absent. Sometimes we’ve remarked that Diesel employees stick around for years, and my wife observed that Tucker and Jen must be doing something right. I’ve kept that in mind concerning my own employees, the occasional bonus or outing on top of trying to be present, communicative, positive, and fair. I see the owners less often at Diesel than I did those first few years, but truthfully I’m not there as often, so I could just be missing a morning shift, but I also see they’ve started families. I’m 8 years into my own business, and that first one it felt like I was there every day. I wonder how my relationship with my store will be when it turns 20. 

-My three pals and I had a two-month long art show at Diesel in the summer of 2006. It was great. There was more wall space then (a bunch of it has since been given over to permanent fixtures and, for example, the white hand-lettered diesel engine history text). We started hanging at 11pm and finished at 6am, just after the morning shift arrived to turn on the coffee machines. We took a photo in the photo booth to capture our fatigue, trudged home, slept, and then came back for the opening that evening. While our show was up, I felt like I owned the place. I’d never had a “gallery” show before, and I brought friends and family in to eat, see the art, and marvel at this funky café interior with its bold wall colors, cool pool tables, and license plates over the next several weeks. I published a comic all about coffee and cafes, mostly inspired by Diesel, as a companion to our show.

-I can’t let a meditation on Diesel pass without mentioning my friends’ collective pet peeve, the lone person who takes up a whole booth with seating for four, long finished with food and drink, on their laptop, and not thinking to surrender the space to a hovering, table-less party. We’ve complained to each other about this, we’ve drawn comics about it, we’ve run it by our employee-friends. I like the hand-drawn signs that went up a few years ago discouraging this practice during certain hours.

-I also can’t let this pass without remarking on the untimely demise of the photo booth. (Which DigBostononce told me is named Omar?) I love physical and analog media, and am never far from the nostalgic. I love the photo booth for what it symbolically represents (modern photo booths with digital camera and printing tech aren’t quite the same), and also for the memories it has cemented for me and others. Honorable mention goes to the working typewriter that used to sit across from the food-making station, where customers could write suggestions. Analog, old-fashioned, and charming.   

-Today, on Diesel Cafe’s 20th anniversary, I got a coupon for a free coffee. Somewhere in this messy room at home I still have the analogous cards for Diesel’s 8th and 9th anniversaries. Good times then, and more to come, I’m certain.

EDITORS NOTE: Tim Finn is the owner of Hub Comics in the heart of Union Square Somerville. Go visit!! Tim, we are actively working on a photo booth fix! Sadly, nobody fixes them anymore and the suggestion is unanimously digital. We will continue to stay strong on the print photography. Keep you posted, and yes, its name is Omar.

A Magical, Percussive Dance

Dear Diesel,

It’s hard to overstate the importance this place has had in my life. There isn’t a whole lot that you weren’t a part of in some way or another. I started working at Diesel during my last year of college when I was 23. I worked for about six months until I graduated. I knew that I had to get out of Boston for my sanity, after 5 straight years of full-time work and full-time college. I had to move on, but I knew in my heart that I would be back. I came back full-time in 2009 and became a shift manager. I worked at 2 of the 3 stores in some capacity steadily until 2018. I think I am still technically a sub at the ice cream bar–I can never cut the cord. Some abbreviated love stories:

-When Reba found out that I played cello in high school and asking me to play wonderful cover songs, including performing at Diesel’s 10th birthday party and Tucker’s wedding. 

-I found a place that matched my work ethic, speed, and intensity. There is really nothing like double-barring with the perfect partner to turn out awesome, beautiful drinks. It is a magical, percussive dance. I owned that service area, could see what needed to be done 10 steps ahead, and still had time to small-talk with regulars. Diesel was a work environment where I truly thrived.

There is really nothing like double-barring with the perfect partner to turn out awesome, beautiful drinks.

-Within the first couple months starting at Diesel, I had a little thing going on with a coworker. We bonded over politics, coffee, our history of growing up in the UU church. We determined that we had been at the same national youth conference in 2002. We ended up going home together the first night we went dancing after work and I showed her my picture in the paper “yearbook” from that youth conference. Turns out our pics were printed on the same page, two to a page. I had stared at that page for years, remembering the outspoken, fearless person with whom I shared a page. My new boo was pictured right next to me, back when she had a different name and very different presentation. 

-I found my career because of Diesel. After college I was trying to figure out if I was going to stay in the service industry and I realized that I could make a really awesome fireman. I asked Charlie, a regular who is a Somerville firefighter, how to get into his line of work. He gave me some great advice, vouched for me on my references, and I got hired by Cambridge as a firefighter. Charlie and I see each other now and again at big fires AND run into one another over coffee. 

-I was able to buy a house because of Diesel family. When I first started in 2010, Lori, who was and is very responsible, bought a house in Medford when we were in our early 20s (shout out to the housing crisis–GET IT, LORI!!!, buying a house in 2010!). I remember going to parties there. She was looking to put in on the market a couple years ago (I only found out because I was catching up with different old Diesel fam over coffee), and I asked if she would consider selling it to me instead. She agreed, and now I am happily raising a family in a house where I used to drink keg beer.

-Sunday night beers. 

-I have found comrades, roommates, lovers, and friends who I know will be in my life forever. We may not speak every day or see each other that often, but I know that I will always have a safe home, a comfortable place to sit, and a damn good cup of coffee at Diesel. Like Tucker once told me, “we will be here. It’s just like pressing the pause button–you can always come back.”


I had been chatting with this girl on and off, we hadn’t seen each other in a year or so. One day I was out front of Diesel with Potter during a smoke break. She was walking by, on her way to a vintage store in Davis Square. We had been trying to meet up for months. I invited her to drink beers on the floor of the empty apartment that Potter, Jill, Casey, and I had just signed a lease on. She brought Southern Tier PumKing. It was warm but I pretended to like it anyway. 

Now we are married. 

Love From A Distance

My best friend and I grew up in Niagara Falls, NY. While I have stayed in the greater Buffalo area, just after college, John made the Boston area his home. He found his amazing soulmate there, they settled in Somerville near Davis Square. As we visited, we watched the transformation of the area, including the opening, and later the expansion, of Diesel.

Once Diesel opened, you became our go-to spot every morning during our visits. My husband and I are early risers by nature, so we often quietly slipped out of the house to have coffee and breakfast at Diesel, and when our friends finally roused, we would bring them back Diesel coffee drinks and baked goods. Our friends’ friends became our friends, and we would meet at Diesel over espresso drinks.

Our friends’ friends became our friends, and we would meet at Diesel over espresso drinks.

John had a scientific mind and the soul of an artist. He created some amazing series of photographs that were shown in galleries nationwide, exhibited around the world, and purchased for publication. Tragically, several years ago he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given 7 months to live by one practitioner.  He defied that prediction by more than double. As always, every time we visited, Diesel was part of our visit, part of our comfort zone.

We still go to Diesel whenever we are in town, and our friends often send us pics of cortados and lattes from Diesel when we haven’t visited in awhile to let us know they are thinking of us.

I hope Diesel continues to thrive so that we will always be able to drop in when we visit. You are truly our favorite coffee shop. We have two different style Diesel mugs, two different Diesel tees, a reusable travel cup, and both carry your bottle openers on our keychains.

Congratulations on your successes — you’ve earned them. And here’s wishing you many more wonderful years.


My Diesel love story almost didn’t exist. Back in 2007 I was 21 years old and dreaming of opening my own café. Thing was that I had never worked in one and didn’t know the first thing about it (or even if I really liked it), so I figured I’d better work in one first. At the time my availability was awful and I didn’t know any one who worked there. I forgot what I drew on the back of my application, but I am sure it was not raising any eyebrows. What I did have however was perseverance. I pretty much stalked the place, coming through inquiring about my application status a couple times a week. My caffeine tolerance was quite low back then and I remember drinking chai’s and coffee and getting so lit I could barely stay in my seat. After a few weeks of this, I finally got a call back from my future roommate Casey who was politely trying to tell me that they were not interested, which turned into the opportunity I was waiting for as I proceeded to keep Casey on the phone for the next 20 minutes until they agreed to give me an interview, most likely just to get me off their case. 

I arrived at Diesel with my hippest shirt and ordered a black dark roast coffee, thinking that would score points from the get go. I was with my girlfriend at that time who came along expecting the interview to last about 20 minutes. I was brought to the back and met one of the owners Jennifer Park and Casey and proceed to have what I believe is still the longest interview in Diesel Cafe history. I emerged 90 minutes later, armpit sweat down to my hipbones through my brown shirt, unsure if I had the job. Lucky for me I did. They called to say that I was hired on my birthday and my involvement with Diesel, Bloc and Forge has been a true gift over the past 13 years. 

From the care, attention to detail, sense of humor and passion of Tucker and Jen blossomed a true community of some of the most spectacular people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  I am not going to try to name everyone because there are too dang many of you! When I started working at Diesel the majority of folks had been there pretty much from the start of the café and I felt fortunate to kinda get grandfathered into that crew of wonderful people and become a part of the next wave of stellar folks.

Jeez, I definitely grew up during those first few years at Diesel and have so many great memories. Whether its was working the Somerville Theater movie rush doubling the bar with Tucker, to getting outrageous at the prom, to being even more outlandish at the Halloween parties, coming up with outrageous puns and stupid gags, I had never had so much fun or felt so cared for then being part of the Diesel crew. Folks were so accepting and supportive of me. I will never forget the crew showing up at my band’s first show, tolerating full 90 minute Jimi-Hendrix sets on the café stereo, giving me a pass when I was late to work after being very drunk and very much leaving with a co-worker I had a crush on the night before and just generally caring about me. I have never met a group of people that leave me smiling on the inside after I talk with them more than the folks at Diesel. 

I have never met a group of people that leave me smiling on the inside after I talk with them more than the folks at Diesel. 

If I had to put my Diesel love story in a polaroid, it would look like this: the old Friday night crew (and the whole host of others who would roll in after close) by the pool tables, Sam Adams 6 packs open, sweat still on the brow from moping the back of the store, feeling accomplished from being slammed and making 1,000,000 hot chocolates, laughing, feeling free and listening to each other share what’s going on in their lives. No better feeling. Nothing close. That has been what has kept me coming back as a customer and employee all of these years. 

I feel so grateful to be involved in this wonderful company and community. The impact of my time with this company and group of people cannot be contained in 1,000 words and most likely cannot fully be conceived by myself. Thank you for taking a chance on me and for allowing this love story to be written. I love you all and look forward to the years to come. 

Diesel Was My First Home

I have always had a deep fondness for cafes because at their root they exist to cultivate community.

Back Camera

In 2007, I had just graduated from college in upstate NY, was moving to Boston where my sister lived, and looking to work at a cafe. When visiting my sister in Boston, I went to Diesel a few times and had my heart set on working there due to its cool and queer-friendly vibe. After applying, I was offered a phone interview because I still living in NY at the time (I was their first phone interview hire!) and I was so nervous. When I received the phone call offering me a position, I actually ended up in a minor car crash due to my excitement! Oops.

Throughout my nine years at Diesel, I felt such a sense of joy, community and acceptance. It was a job of course, but it didn’t really feel like a job because I was having so much fun. I would work all day and then continue to hang out with my co-workers after our shifts ended. It was an incredibly special time in my life.

It was a job of course, but it didn’t really feel like a job because I was having so much fun. I would work all day and then continue to hang out with my co-workers after our shifts ended.

I eventually began to work at an investment bank during the week, but I would still work at Diesel on the weekends because I loved it so much. Diesel was a part of me. After working at the investment bank for nearly a year, Diesel approached me saying they were looking for someone to help with their management/finances. I jumped at the opportunity and would go on to work in this position for eight years!

I developed a very close bond with the owners, Tucker and Jen, and with the whole team. I remember spending hours chatting with Jen about Diesel projects and our love lives. It was always a good time. Later I would become very close with her adorable son Yoshi. I also have fond memories of talking to Tucker in the office when we were working late until around 8pm or 9pm. I could have easily left at 5pm, but enjoyed the work and community so I never had a real urge to leave. Tucker has a huge heart and it is shown through her role as a business owner, partner, and parent. I really look up to her. Some of my fondest memories at Diesel are Sunday night beers that she organized or awaiting my drawing she would create when it was my Diesel or personal birthday. Similar to Tucker, I don’t have a huge passion for coffee or food, but the sense of community that Diesel created and still creates for its employees and customers is what made me enjoy working there. It has been inspiring to see how Diesel has grown over the years and to have been a part of it. Today my career focus is to try and create community just like Diesel has done for the past 20 years.

I had a difficult upbringing and never felt a true sense of family and community until I began my journey with Diesel. I learned that family can come in all shapes and sizes and am forever grateful. To this day, some of my closest friends and relationships have come from my time at Diesel.  

Thank you Diesel for community, mentorship, and fun times. Happy 20th!