Proof Baking & Philz Coffee Give Bread to Help Youth

While most of us are snuggled under the covers on foggy Friday mornings, Mike Shwe is up at 5:00 am to turn on his oven. While we're hitting the snooze button and indulging in just seven more minutes of precious sleep, he's packing up and biking from his home on Lone Mountain to Mission Bay, Noe Valley, the Mission, or another district in San Francisco. And while we're waiting bleary-eyed for our morning caffeine fix, he's handing us warm slices of his freshly baked sourdough loaves.

During the First Friday at Philz Mike asks nothing more from customers waiting in line at various Philz Coffee shops than to “just try a piece.” And the bread speaks for itself—nearly everyone who samples his homemade bread wants to know where they can buy it. With a chuckle, Mike says he will gladly bake and deliver a whole loaf to anyone who makes at least a $100 donation to New Door Ventures.

New Door Ventures? What's that?

As featured in Sunset Magazine, Mike, the founder of Proof Baking Company, learned to bake bread after an inspirational dinner at the French Laundry in Yountville, CA. Shortly thereafter, he learned about New Door Ventures' commitment to helping at-risk youth get ready for work and life. After honing his craft of bread-making with a focus on sourdough, a San Francisco classic, he met Phil Jaber, founder of Philz Coffee. Mike asked Phil to try a slice of his bread and Phil loved it so much that he wanted to sell it in his coffee shops. Mike insisted that instead of selling the artisan bread, he would volunteer his time to bake bread and give it away in exchange for raising awareness for the youth that New Door serves. That's how Proof Baking, Philz Coffee, and New Door Ventures came together to form a partnership centered in philanthropy.

“I met Mike, I tried his bread and I loved it," said Phil, who started Philz Coffee in 2003 and has now expanded to over 10 locations, including one in the Facebook headquarters. "I like what [Mike] does and his idea touched me. I always say 'Never forget how to give.' We all have to contribute to the community and I'm happy to give back."

Bread-making is becoming more than a hobby for Mike, as he continues to expand Proof Baking through a type of bread delivery co-op. If someone contacts Mike and then makes a donation to New Door for at least $100, he (or one of his various bike messenger volunteers) will deliver a warm loaf of artisan bread directly to the purchaser's door. Not only that, but the First Friday at Philz is growing each month. There's always a crowd at the Philz location for that month while Mike and volunteers butter thick slices and chat up customers.

New Door has been an inspiration in the process of developing Proof Baking. “I view this as a long-term relationship," said Mike. "I like that New Door is very hands-on with the youth they serve, giving them lots of training. They really are preparing youth for work and life.”

Follow Mike on twitter, @proofbaking, to learn where he'll be each month for the First Friday at Philz.

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Mike Shwe with Tess Reynolds, CEO of New Door, at Philz Coffee

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