“Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see our troubles are all the same. You wanna be where everybody knows your name.”
Cary Verner has been the Brew’s manager since before its official opening April 17, 2017 at Oklahoma Christian University. Verner said he wants the Brew to be the “Cheers of OC” and the embodiment of the phrase “OC is home” for students now and after their time at Oklahoma Christian has ended.
“I want them to feel like this is a safe place where they can come [and where] they are going to get a friendly face,” Verner said. “Hopefully, I will know their name, even if it’s a few years down the road, and they will always feel like [they] have a place to go when they go back to OC.”
In the coffee shop is a canvas that reads, “In Christ’s love, we serve coffee to people from all walks of life, meeting them where they are at through genuine conversation.” Verner said the baristas created the phrase during the first year of the shop’s operation to influence the Brew for years to come. Senior Paige Adams was a barista during the coining of the phrase.
“As a barista, people would come in all the time [and] share their struggles and their triumphs, what they are happy about, what they’re upset about,” Adams said. “It really is a place that feels warm and welcoming, so it fosters deep conversations between all kinds of relationships. I feel it’s a very comfortable environment where real, raw conversations can happen.”
Verner said he has three main focuses for the Brew to make its customers feel like they belong, the first of which is making the Brew a place of “respite.”
“Someone could come in here if they really want and just fall asleep on a chair,” Verner said. “Hey, whatever. We’re not going to judge you for it. We want people to feel comfortable by themselves here, so read a book, do your homework, put your headphones it, get your studying in, whatever it is that allows you to get out of your dorm room and say, ‘hey this is my place.’”
According to Verner, the second focus of the Brew is to make it a place of comfort for all people. He said he wants the Brew to be a safe and welcome place for all types of people and conversations whether they drink coffee or not, or if they are from different places or hold different beliefs.
“I know there are some people who feel like they don’t belong here or they don’t fit in here, and I wish I could lobby against that and say, ‘No, you do,’” Verner said. “You do belong here, whether you’re an international student from Rwanda, or India or wherever. We want you here, not to sell you anything, but because we want to hear your voice. We want to share life together, and this is a place of interaction for all of that.”
The third focus of the Brew, according to Verner, is to make the Brew a place for people to have fun with friends and develop relationships. One way the Brew facilitates this is through events.
“We really want to push people to get out of their dorms rooms and have fun,” Verner said. “It’s not a [place of], ‘Hey, we want people to come here and drink coffee and laugh over a conversation.’ It is that, but it’s more than that. That’s why we want to do things like Trivia Night, which we’ve done a couple times, [and] we have Brew’s Clues coming up, which is a campus-wide involved thing.”
Darian Guinn, a senior at Oklahoma Christian and regular Brew customer, said she enjoyed the Brew Talk featuring Don Drew a few weeks ago.
“I really liked that idea,” Guinn said. “It is a really cool way to get people involved and to kind of build more community at the Brew instead of just going to get your coffee. It’s an excuse to stick around.”
The Brew is going to be loud, it is going to be fun, and it is going to be the place that can “most likely improve your day,” according to Verner. He said coming into the Brew is a way of excusing oneself from studying, because if a person really wanted to study, he or she would go to the first or third floor of the library. Guinn and Verner both agree the real reason people come to the Brew is for personal interaction.
“I like going to the Brew for the social experience,” Guinn said. “You can usually walk in and see a bunch of your friends there. [I go] mainly for the social experience, not as much to study, because it is hard to stay focused there.”
According to Verner, college is many people’s favorite time in life because it is a time spent in community daily. He said the Brew encourages being in community through its layout.
“These tables are too close to be individualistic in our society that is so individualistic,” Verner said. “We want space. The problem with that though is we don’t allow people in, and whenever there is a lack of space, we don’t care. We like it, actually. That’s what’s beautiful about coffee shops and the culture they create. It’s kind of anti-American.”
The Brew is located on the second floor of the Mabee Learning Center. Operating hours and a basic menu can be found online.
“Stop by, grab a cup and be a part of the community.”