Vibe Coffeehouse educates through coffee

LIMA — Carlton McLellan spent so much time working in coffee shops that he decided to open one of his own.

The Lima native, who works in international affairs and diplomacy in Washington, D.C., returned to his hometown several years ago to renovate an empty warehouse on Central Avenue, now home to Vibe Coffeehouse and Cafe.

A good coffee shop “is like a home for me,” McLellan said. “Lima needs a place where people feel they can come and sit and put their feet up and relax over coffee.”

McLellan was one of the first entrepreneurs to bet on Central Avenue, which has seen growth in recent years through the Greater Lima Region Park & Amphitheater and the Central District, when he opened Vibe in 2021 at 311 E. Market St. Suite 107, Lima.

The Black-owned coffeehouse retained its industrial character with open ceilings and brick walls, which are decorated with miniature flags from each of the 50 countries that produce and export coffee.

There’s a bookcase in the corner where customers can grab a book to enjoy with their coffee.

On the back wall are pictures of celebrities and local artists drinking coffee, which McLellan fondly calls his “Wall of Leadership and Coffee.” He adds a new photo each time an artist performs at Vibe.

The main focus of Vibe is the coffee itself.

McLellan purchases raw coffee from a wholesaler so he can roast the coffee locally for a fresher taste.

“It goes from green raw to the brown that we then grind and serve you,” he said.

Vibe sources most of its coffee from Uganda, but McLellan plans to introduce more diversity to the menu through coffee tastings where customers share which samples they like best.

“Part of our mission is to educate the rest of the world through coffee,” McLellan said as he described his plans to showcase the culture of the countries where coffee is produced.

Another mission for McLellan is to support the arts.

The coffeehouse plays host to regular poetry readings, book signings, art exhibits and open-mic nights, as well as birthday parties and anniversaries.

“I say anything can happen at a coffeehouse,” McLellan said. “Anything positive.”


Many businesses and organizations started right here in the Lima region, with the goal of making an impact in the region. This year’s Celebrating Our Spirit looks at those trailblazers. Read more stories at