I didn’t know what to expect from an event that featured coffee, a live DJ, an open bar, and free cookies, all while raising awareness for some wonderful, worthy causes. Even though I didn’t know what to expect, what I witnessed was just what a BYOM event can offer: great food and drink, dancing, and an outlet for social causes.
BYOM (Bring Your Own Mug)* is a quarterly event hosted by Well Coffee. The purpose of the night is to engage people’s minds and hearts in a relevant way and bring awareness to world causes. This is done through donating portions of ticket sales as well as selling coffee at the event. Specific organizations are also present to help people see for themselves ways in which they can help. Past events have raised money and awareness for helping women in India’s red-light district and providing clean water to Haiti.
At this BYOM, I got to speak with people from ALARM (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries), an organization that sets up micro-economic projects to support widows and orphans in Uganda. Widows craft beautiful beaded jewelry out of magazine pages in an effort to help raise donations. I was familiar with other organizations that produced similar jewelry, so I was happy to come away with a beautiful green bracelet to add to my collection.
The Gladney Center for Adoption was also there to spread awareness about On Their Own, a component of the center that provides job and life-skills training to orphaned and foster care teens throughout much of the world.
As I took this all in, I snacked on lettuce wraps and sweets prepared by Chef Eric Justice, the corporate chef for Pei Wei Asian Diner. Justice dreamed up Chefs4Kids Foundation to raise funds for food, clothing, education, and shelter for kids worldwide. One of the organization’s programs, Cookies4Kids, sent partygoers home with two delicious double chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies.
Speaking with Brooke Bowen, the founder and owner of Well Coffee, I sensed right away why this night felt so empowering and full of love. Bowen fell in love with coffee while studying at Baylor University; specifically, a Waco coffee shop called Common Grounds. Ever since graduating from Baylor in 2003, Bowen has worked in the retail coffee world. Bowen says there’s a point where you can either get married or start a business; either way, you’re going to learn a lot about yourself, and you’re going to have to work at it every single day in order for it to be successful.
After years of educating herself on fair trade, direct trade, and the real people involved in the coffee-roasting process, Bowen brought her long-time dream to reality in November 2009. She now roasts coffee out of her home in Dallas for the many buyers of Well Coffee Roasters (as fate would have it, Common Grounds is one of those buyers). In Dallas you can try Well Coffee at The Corner Market, Smoke, and the Belmont Hotel.
As the night picked up, I overheard someone say, “I think drinking coffee makes me happier than drinking alcohol.” Cheers to that. As it turns out, an event that combines awareness for social causes with coffee, food, an open bar, and a rockin’ DJ is a fabulous idea. —Valeria Turturro
*If you’re like me, you’re wondering if you really need to bring your own mug. No, there are cups available for coffee. But some people did bring their own mugs, which is more fun.