Union Coffee has always been my go-to coffee shop whenever I’m in the area. There’s something about the place that keeps me coming back.
I was first introduced to Union at TEDxSMU. Michael Baughman, the curator of Union, told me the story of Union - what it was and what he hoped it would be. He told me that Union was a place where people can come together and be more.
I was a little impressed at the boldness in that statement - how could a coffee shop make people “come together and be more”. I decided to check the place out.
At first glance, the coffee shop was a little weird. It was hard to park (there were a lot of one-way roads). It was confusing about what to order (is their mocha actually good?). It was unintuitive about where to sit (who puts pillows on the floor when there are chairs and tables right next to it?). But as I looked closer, I realized that this was a place where people can come and be as comfortable as they wanted to be. Two friends can study for a history exam right next to two friends who are starting a business. Two old friends can have their 50th cup of coffee together right next to two old friends who are seeing each other after 50 years. Union was a coffee shop whose personality encompassed the personalities of not only its patrons but every person in the community. This place wasn’t just a coffee shop. This place was one that fostered a community where people could come together and be more.
I came back to Union a second time and learned about all of the different programs and initiatives that they put on to serve their community. Each season, ten percent of all proceeds go to a different charity. Almost every month, Union hosts some kind of service project that benefits people in need. And their arguably most impactful programs are the worship services that they put on: Studio and Kuneo. Union was a place that believed that causes make life worth living, and made it their mission to always have a cause that makes people come together and be more.
On Tuesday, Union had their Grand Closing Party for their Dyer Street location, which they embedded into their final Kuneo service. Union wasn’t closing its doors permanently, but instead was relocating to a different location in Uptown Dallas. Like all Kuneo services, there was a sermon, there was discussion, and there was music. The focus of this Kuneo service was "new beginnings" and "new journeys" - some things Union would be experiencing over the next few months. Michael gave the sermon and included a lot of reflective questions that the audience was encouraged to answer out loud.
Some of those questions included:
"What did you discover at Union?"
"How was Union your Bethlehem?"
Michael also asked audience members to complete the following phrases:
"Because of Union, I..."
"Because of Union, I will..."
"For Union, I will..."
Union on Dyer Street was a second home to so many people in the Dallas area. People saw Union as a place to worship, to perform, to drink coffee, and to be engaged with the people in their community. But Union won’t be going away even while it’s doors are temporarily closed. Many of the programs will continue to take place in locations all around Dallas. The audience was “[invited]...on a road trip [for] we will continue to journey together.” and reminded that “when this space is empty, Union will not be."
Union’s last night on Dyer street was filled with memories that were looked back on. Union’s last night on Dyer street was filled with a reflection on five years of growth and change. Union’s last night on Dyer street was filled with tears. Union’s last night on Dyer street was filled with laughs. Union’s last night on Dyer street was filled with strangers and becoming friends and friends becoming family. Union’s last night on Dyer street was filled with filled with Union. Union’s last night on Dyer Street was filled with people coming together to be more. Union’s last night on Dyer Street was one filled with coffee, community, and cause.