Faces Behind the Screen: Nick Buchanan

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nick buchanan
Pepperbox Coffee is a deaf-owned coffee trailer in Austin, Texas. All employees speak ASL and communicate with customers using small dry-erase boards. The menu is small, but it boasts some of the most delicious coffee in the area – after all it’s founders are true coffee connoisseurs.
We chatted with one of Pepperbox’s founder Nick Buchanan to hear his story and the inspiration behind Pepperbox.

Do you identify as deaf/hard of hearing? How long have you been deaf?

I identify as a Deaf. I’ve been deaf since 13 months old.

delicious coffee with homemade whip cream from pepperbox

What is your first memory of struggling to communicate?

I was in kindergarten and I recall getting frustrated about not being able to ask for help on what I was supposed to do with the projects assigned.

I often had to figure it out on my own or ask my parents later on.

What is your proudest moment?

I was the first to graduate from college with a B.S degree in my family.

I almost gave up several times because I struggled to pass the tougher computer classes in my Computer Science major. My family and facility kept encouraging me to stay the course, to not give up.

What inspired you to start Pepperbox Coffee?

ice coffee from pepperbox

I always wanted to own a business. I tried several times before I finally found the model that succeeded in past formation.

What has been the impact of Pepperbox Coffee for the community? How have Deaf and hearing people responded?

I hope it has been a positive impact for the community (I don’t see why it wouldn’t! :D)

I have had people come and ask me how I got it set up and running, what it took to make it possible. It has opened people’s eyes, from all over the nation and I am seeing many new ventures among the Deaf communities striving for their own businesses.

Nick drinking Pepperbox coffee

What’s your life motto?

Persistence. Good things in life do not come overnight.

What’s the best thing about being deaf?

I think it would have to do with being part of a very exciting community and culture where everyone knows sign language! The community is so tight that wherever I go, it is easy to create new friends as well as bump into old friends during events. Because the deaf community is so small, it is easy to have a sense of belongings, where it makes us feel more like a family. For example, if I see a new deaf person at a grocery store, we’d say hello and share a few things as if we were in the same club or something.

Updates: Pepperbox Coffee is currently closed as they are searching for a new location in Austin. Visit Pepperboxcoffee.com to stay up-to-date.

Photos in this post are courtesy of Pepperbox’s Facebook and have been edited with some graphics.

Pictures of four people who were interviewed for the Faces Behind the Screen project

Faces Behind the Screen is a storytelling project focusing on members of the Deaf and hard of hearing community.

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