We're in this Together

By Evan Howe

Me and Carl, pictured with Jose Jadir Losada of Osito (left) and Edilma Polania Bermeo and her family (she is the managing director of The Cooperativa Divino Niño

At the time of writing this post the world feels quite different than it did only a few months ago. Within the last few days the number of confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus in the United States has risen above 35,000 and thousands, perhaps millions, of individuals in the retail and hospitality industries have been laid off due to recent shutdowns and closures.

All stakeholders in the specialty coffee supply chain have felt the swift impact of the current Coronavirus outbreak and many in our industry are facing incredibly serious realities at present and deeply troubling uncertainties on the horizon. Consumers have lost access to many of the cafes that they frequent and support, thousands of baristas and other retail staff have been laid off, small business owners that operate retail spaces have had to close their doors, coffee roasteries have experienced dramatic reductions in orders, importers and exporters are navigating the complicated implications of their roaster clients’ reduced production volumes, and coffee producers are facing the possibility of not selling their current or upcoming harvest as more and more green coffee buyers feel the pinch of the present pandemic.


Martha Hurtado on her farm in Cauca, Colombia

Amidst these challenging and uncertain times, there are many inspiring examples of optimism, ingenuity, and resilience throughout our industry. Coffee lovers have rallied behind their favorite coffee shops and roasting companies, buying coffee and merchandise in spite of the closure of retail spaces. Roasting companies, importers, and exporters continue to work incredibly hard to identify ways to move forward despite challenging circumstances, striving to ensure that the majority of the pain and loss incurred throughout the supply chain as a result of current events is not simply passed back to the countries of origin and ultimately to coffee producers that all too often are forced to assume disproportionate risk and vulnerability. 

To everyone who has continued to support Passenger in this challenging season: please know that our entire team is incredibly grateful. Your visits for carry-out beverages at our Plum St. cafe and your online purchases of coffee, tea, and merchandise have been an invaluable support as we strive to take care of our team and sustain strong partnerships with the importers, exporters, and coffee producers that we work with. Please know that by buying our coffee, or buying coffee from our friends in the specialty coffee industry, you are not merely supporting coffee roasting companies here in the States. At a time when the entire industry and supply chain has been shaken, every bag of coffee, t-shirt, and gift card that you purchase supports the countless individuals that continue to work hard at the other end of the supply chain and that depend on the annual purchases of coffee roasting companies to sustain their farms and families. With each effort made to support us we thank you for continuing to support them as well.

Workers sorting coffee in Guji, Ethiopia