Nothing Nowhere’s Facebook page describes itself as a “secret café,” but it is very much hidden in plain sight. As soon as you enter the newly-relocated Home Green Home, in the center of the Ithaca Commons and attached to Petrune, the coffee counter is clear. But the sign in the window is subtle. Who would think of having a café in a home goods store?
According to a post on their Facebook wall, Nothing Nowhere has existed since December 2019, though it didn’t appear on my radar until October. I heard about the secret coffee shop from a friend and went to investigate on a Friday. First, I was misled by a sign and went up a flight of stairs to the apartments above the storefront — that would have been a very hidden shop. Then I walked into Home Green Home and spotted the futuristic espresso machine but no other signs of a café.
After I awkwardly mumbled something about coffee, the barista smiled widely and said he would be delighted to make me a drink. It turned out that Nothing Nowhere was barely official yet; they had cups (no lids), espresso, oat milk and a tip jar. There was no seating, just a counter; the setup is perfect for COVID times but may be inconvenient in the future. I chatted with Caleb, the outgoing barista and owner of Nothing Nowhere, and learned how ecstatic he was just to have the café open and see customer’s faces. He even gave me repair advice for my failing coffee maker. As I was the only one in the store, my iced oat milk latte was ready quickly. It was strong, smooth and had just the right amount of ice.
I decided to come back a few weeks later, after its official opening. Nothing Nowhere now has a shelf full of freshly baked desserts — think mini cakes, macaroons and puff pastries — from a local pastry chef. They also sell bags of Nothing Nowhere coffee (roasted by Oak & Crow) and a few savory snacks, including guava puffs. An iPhone sized menu was on the counter, detailing all the regular offerings (drip brewed, espresso drinks, chai). There were also some special offers, such as an oat cocoa, a white chocolate rose latte with pink peppercorn and a milk chocolate mocha with rosemary. Caleb, as upbeat and charming as before, told me that as Nothing Nowhere got more business, they would be able to buy more machines and ingredients for specialty drinks. Being such a new business, however, they are at risk of not surviving the winter season without students in Ithaca; if you want to support Caleb and the café, a GoFundMe campaign was created.
I would highly recommend stopping by Nothing Nowhere for a delicious coffee drink, a fun conversation and a unique café experience.
Melanie Metz is a junior in the College of Human Ecology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.