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How COVID-19 is Affecting the Coffee Industry

With COVID-19 keeping the world on lockdown, the coffee industry is rapidly experiencing a trickle-
down effect that is leaving those most vulnerable – the producers – with the highest risks.

So, What are the Difficulties?

Coffee collectors in a colombian farm Coffee Gems

Farmers Can’t Work

Coffee grows in very specific conditions and, unlike other plants, it isn’t ripe all at the same time.
Traditionally, coffee pickers move from farm-to-farm, country-to-country to earn a living. But, with
Coronavirus, these pickers are unable to cross borders to work. So, farms are going from 400-500
workers to just 100. This is a huge blow to a lot of these farms that are losing half their yearly crop.
Luckily, some local governments are now starting to encourage locals to work as pickers, providing
medical coverage to make sure they’re working in a safe environment. But will it be enough?

Demand for Coffee has Dried Up

Coffee Gems visiting coffee farmers

For most farms, there is one harvest a year and, if the farm owner misses that harvest now, they’re

suddenly in a very difficult financial position. There’s even potential that some coffee farms may
have to shut down entirely, leading to the loss of unique speciality blends.
Farms that produce the highest quality coffee would usually sell at a higher price. This is directly
offset by their apparent risk; better quality coffee can often be lower in yield and more prone to
coffee blights. These small farms will be hit hardest as they are forced to sell the best coffee at
commodity prices since most speciality coffee houses are currently closed.

 

Exporters Can’t Ship, Roasters Can’t Sell

Even if producers can farm their coffee and find a buyer, exporters and importers alike may still face
problems with shipping.
It’s becoming common for coffee to be held up in shipping ports due to the restrictions surrounding
COVID-19. If the product is held for too long, it could go stale and accrue shipping costs. All whilst
roasters are still waiting for a product that they’ve paid for but may not receive any time soon,
putting the financial burden on them.
And even when roasters do finally receive the green beans, there’s no guarantee that they’ll have
anyone to sell to. With coffee houses closed, the main wholesale buyers are gone. That’s why it’s
now up to the individual customer to support the industry as well.

 

How Can I Lend My Support?

So, all of this sounds rather bleak. But the solution is simple: buy more coffee from local roasters, they source coffee from small farms committed with high quality coffee. Now is the time for
people who are craving their morning cup of barista-prepared coffee to start making it at home. The
more coffee you buy and enjoy, the more chance the individual farmer has to thrive.

Some roasters are taking on the risk of buying coffee to help producers but, in order to survive, they
need the support of their customers. Here at Coffee Gems, we’re lucky to have the support base of
our loyal customers to help us through this difficult time. So, from us to you: thank you!