For many coffee professionals, the annual Specialty Coffee Expo is a highlight of the year. Not only is the show, hosted by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), filled with booths, lectures, and competitions featuring the latest in the industry, but many organizations take advantage of the high number of coffee folks in the area to host auxiliary events and gatherings.
This year’s Expo will be in Portland, Oregon, from April 21-23, and the folks at Go Fund Bean, a non-profit organization dedicated to uplifting and empowering hourly workers, will be hosting two events you cannot miss.
Why It Matters: Usually, in the run-up to Expo, brands and organizations announce parties they’re throwing or events they’ll be hosting in tandem with the event, which draws in coffee professionals from all around the world. Go Fund Bean (GFB) is hosting two events: one called Feeding Portland that will give away free food to baristas, and another called Coffee Prom that subverts the typical non-profit black-tie gala and invites attendees to be silly, kick off their shoes, and dance the night away on a mechanical dance floor while raising money for future GFB programming.
The Full Extraction: Feeding Portland will take place at Guilder & Junior’s Roasted Coffee Roastery (2393 NE Fremont St) on April 21st. “Go Fund Bean will be providing Portland-area working baristas with three free prepared meals for them to take home and eat during Expo weekend,” a press release states. Baristas can order food—starting now by filling out this form—from a handful of Portland restaurants, and vegan and vegetarian options are available.
“This program is a labor of love for Go Fund Bean,” says GFB Director of Marketing Valorie Clark. “Everyone on our board was once a barista, and we remember the pain of going home to cook after a long day of prepping coffee and food for other people. During major coffee events like Expo, work is even more tiring for the local coffee community. We wanted to take something off of baristas’ plates during that time.”
GFB will host Coffee Prom on April 23rd to cap off the end of Expo. Like any proper prom, it has a theme—”Swag”—open to interpretation but meant to be fun, silly, and light. “Swag is in the eye of the beholder,” says GFB board member Bud Taliaferro. “It’s about living life luxuriously and enjoying the finer things. It’s about that bag of stuff that vendors gave away hoping to make a customer of you. It’s about knowing who you are and carrying yourself like nobody can tell you otherwise. It’s opulence. It’s silly. It’s a chance to release your wiggles and have some fun. Swag is yours to define, just don’t show up without it!”
Tickets will be sold on a sliding scale starting at $20, which includes a buffet dinner, alcohol-free drinks, and access to a photo booth to capture your special night. There will also be a silent auction with all proceeds going to support future programming for GFB in 2024 and beyond.
Oh, and that mechanical dance floor? Coffee Prom will take place at McMenamin’s Crystal Ballroom, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Some have described dancing on the floor as “like dancing on clouds!”
What’s More: Both these events demonstrate the goals for GFB: to provide the necessary support for coffee professionals immediately and to fund programming for long-term projects. Of Coffee Prom, GFB founder Adam JacksonBey says: “While a lot of non-profits have galas to support their mission, we thought it would be more true to who we are as an organization to have a Prom, a low key but high fun event that allows us all to relax and dance after an intense three days of SCA Expo.”
Coffee Prom will support projects similar to Feeding Portland in the future, and other programs like Disaster Relief Grants, Bean for Bean mentorship, low-cost mental health care through Stay Grounded, and their national Wage Survey project, which we broke down here.
You can learn more about Go Fund Bean by visiting their website.