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L.A. is about to get it's queerest—and possibly cutest—coffee shop

Written by
Loretta Chao

If there’s going to be a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community, it should have good coffee. At least, that’s the idea behind Cuties Coffee Bar, soon to open in East Hollywood.

In Los Angeles, there are “A lot of late-night venues that are queer oriented, but not casual spaces that are places to go during the day,” says Cuties co-founder Virginia Bauman, who has been organizing the monthly meet-up series Queers, Coffee & Donuts in private spaces with her Cuties partner, Iris Bainum-Houle. They hope the event, which has grown to host about 100 attendees throughout the last year, will become weekly once Cuties opens this Spring. The space will also host other community gatherings and workshops. 

“We felt like coffee was a really good entry point to having not only a place for the community, but having a visible presence that people could support,” says Bauman, who previously founded Tonx, the coffee bean subscription company, and served as director of digital product for Blue Bottle.

Along with the coffee, Cuties will also serve tea and baked goods from the vegan and gluten-free Erin McKenna’s Bakery. A retail space will feature zines and other goods sold by community members. The majority of funding for the coffee bar comes from the co-founders, but they’re also raising money on Indiegogo. As of today, they’ve raised more than 40 percent of their $50,000 goal.

In addition to welcoming all sexualities and gender identities, Cuties also welcomes sex workers as both patrons and employees. “In the community at large, so many people are sex workers. It would feel particularly unjust and alienating if we did not support, hire and make accommodations for sex workers,”  says Bainum-Houle. This feels particularly timely to the founders, now that President Trump has rescinded rules for transgender students that allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

Cuties got its name because the founders wanted something that would convey their desire to make a brand that is truly inclusive. “When we were first coming up with the idea for the coffee shop we wanted a non-gender specific term of endearment,” Bainum-Houle says. “A boy, girl or anyone in between can be a cutie.”


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