Photo of Arman Duggal, owner of Disko Coffee, posing inside his cafe in front of a Disko Coffee branded t-shirt.
Photo by Jessi Wood

DISKO COFFEE: A HAVEN FOR MAGAZINE LOVERS  

Disko Coffee sits tucked into half of 63‭ ‬Dickson St‭., ‬next to community staple‭, ‬Phidon Pens‭.  ‬ 

The cafe provides the basics—coffee, cold drinks and some baked goods—but has a large selection of magazines for browsing and buying.  

What started as an online store eventually grew to a physical location‭. ‬Arman Duggal‭, ‬founder and owner of Disko Coffee‭, ‬founded‭ ‬the online store to build a brand and then a physical location‭. ‬He created the space with the intentional nature of in-person browsing in mind‭.  ‬ 

‭”‬The way we browse for books and magazines‭, ‬in person versus online is perhaps more intentional‭…‬We might spend like five to ten minutes reading an article or reading a few pages because there’s no other distractions‭,” ‬he said‭.  ‬ 

Duggal injected his own personality into the store with small touches like a Manchester United flag near the register and Indian‭ ‬claymen spread across the store‭.  ‬ 

He said the store is like an extension of his own living room‭, ‬a place for people to be outside of their work and home‭.  ‬ 

‭”‬It’s a place to come for 30‭ ‬minutes or an hour to just free yourself from those distractions and just‭ [‬hang‭] ‬out‭, ‬especially like coming out of the pandemic‭,” ‬he said‭. “‬And I think more than ever people are or have been craving that social interaction but‭ ‬just like a place to go outside of their home to either work for a little bit or to catch up with friends and family‭.”  ‬ 

The space was designed by Brett Paulin with much input by Duggal‭. ‬He said he aimed to create a space that was an extension of his home‭.  ‬ 

‭”‬I didn’t really have like have an image in my mind of what the space would look like‭; ‬it was more so just more so like a feeling I had‭,” ‬Duggal said‭. “‬And it’s that feeling that I have when I’m in my own home or my parents‭’ ‬home or grandparents‭’, ‬like‭, ‬comfort and that’s sort of what I wanted to achieve‭.”‬ 

Duggal spent many years working at the Phidon Pens‭, ‬owned by his mother‭, ‬Mano Duggal‭. ‬There‭, ‬he cultivated a love for stationery‭, ‬books and binding‭. ‬As a teenager‭, ‬he began collecting magazines‭.  ‬ 

‭”‬What draws me to magazines‭, ‬like initially is the paper and how they’re made‭, ‬how they’re put together‭…[‬and‭] ‬interacting with‭ ‬it‭, ‬I find‭, ‬to me is the most compelling‭,” ‬he said‭.  ‬ 

‭”‬Magazines are a great way to open up your mind to things that you are‭, ‬you wouldn’t typically be exposed to‭…‬because you don’t‭ ‬there’s like no pressure to sort of read it start to finish‮!‬Xit’s there when you need it when you need inspiration‭,” ‬Duggal said‭.  ‬ 

Considering his experience working extensively at Phidon Pens‭, ‬Duggal learned much about running a business and managing a team‭ ‬from his mother‭. ‬His Cambridge location is largely thanks to his family and the presence of his mother’s business next door‭. ‬His‭ ‬background in helping run a small business as well as hospitality guided his decision to open the cafe‭.  ‬ 

‭”‬I really enjoyed hosting and bringing people together‭. ‬And I feel like coffee is the best way to facilitate that‭,” ‬he said‭.  ‬ 

Although it has only been open for a few months‭, ‬Disko Coffee is fast making a space for itself in the community‭. ‬For example‭, ‬Duggal will often open the cafe after hours for students from the nearby University of Waterloo School of Architecture‭.  ‬ 

‭”‬I want to continue to engage with that student body and offer the space to them whenever they want for like exhibitions or workshops or just social gatherings‭. ‬I think it’s a very important demographic for me here in Cambridge‭,” ‬he said‭. ‬