Carolina student uses coffee to influence social change

Best Buddies Brews is providing individuals with disabilities a platform to develop and showcase marketable skills, build friendships and engage with community members.

Coffee has long been a staple of the American breakfast, but during her time as a Starbucks barista, Carolina senior Jacklyn Googins noticed it was something more than just a drink — it brings people together.

That realization led Googins to found Best Buddies Brews, an organization that provides individuals with disabilities a platform to develop and showcase marketable skills, build friendships and engage with community members.

“Interpersonal interactions can be so meaningful,” Googins said. “I’ve seen the walls come down between people. I’ve seen people begin to realize this simple, but world-changing truth, that we’re all more alike than we are different.”

Launched in conjunction with UNC-Chapel Hill’s Best Buddies chapter, Best Buddies Brews helps adults with disabilities learn various brewing processes and then serve that coffee at pop-ups on campus and in the local community.

“I decided to get involved and advocate for myself,” said Sam Wagner, one of the program’s baristas. “It’s nice to have conversations with people that I don’t know and to get to know people throughout the community.”