Coffee Businesses Providing COVID-19 Relief: Part Five

We wrap up our series showcasing the coffee community’s resiliency during COVID-19.


Cover photo courtesy of Coffee Project NY

It’s been an emotional past few months for all of us, in and outside of the coffee community, but that hasn’t stopped us from pushing through every struggle and setback we’ve encountered during this time. This series may be closing out, but many of the initiatives that we’ve featured over the last several weeks are continuing stronger than ever. Whether it’s been through regularly deliveries of brewed coffee to health-care workers or using online sales to fill virtual tipjars, our industry has gathered every bit of energy and optimism we can and channeled it toward others who need it most. Here are several more coffee businesses that are providing relief to those heavily affected by COVID-19.

Coffee Project NY owner Sum Ngai prepares coffee deliveries for hospitals in NYC. Photo courtesy of Coffee Project NY.

Barista Relief, Hospital Deliveries, and Brew Party by Coffee Project NY

The team at Coffee Project NY has been brewing up an ambitious array of initiatives to support their staff, NYC baristas, and their health-care workers. They’ve partnered with local artist and regular patron Randeep Katari to produce these unique mugs, whose entire proceeds go to Coffee Project’s baristas staying at home during this time. You can also donate any amount of money you’d like to support the cause, to which these baristas give a huge THANK YOU. To keep things entertaining during shelter in place, Coffee Project NY has also been hosting a daily Brew Party on their Instagram account through their livestream at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Every single one features a new guest demonstrating a brew method, and there’s even a weekly giveaway with items donated by the community. Lastly but most definitely not least, they’ve collaborated with a local nonprofit to deliver coffees to hospitals in NYC, and you can support the cause here. “It has been very hard since the ‘shelter in place,’ but we are trying our best to stay positive, and hopefully we get to send the message that we are all in this together,” says Coffee Project NY owner Sum Ngai.

A member of Not Your Average Joe models a T-shirt that’s part of their #CoffeeOVERCovid campaign. Photo courtesy of Not Your Average Joe.

#CoffeeOVERCovid by Not Your Average Joe

Not Your Average Joe has been equally busy serving myriad groups, including their baristas, health-care workers, and those who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19. #CoffeeOVERCovid is an effort to provide personal protective equipment and other necessities to high-risk individuals and frontline workers, which also includes their staff with special needs. Go to their online store to check out two clever coffee-related COVID T-shirts, along with some “caffeine bonds” of $75 valued at $100 for use at the Oklahoma City café. To support their staff emotionally, Not Your Average Joe has kept things interesting and helpful: “During the pandemic, NYAJ has tried to be creative in how best to keep our amazing staff busy,” says Tim Herbel of Not Your Average Joe. “In addition to working the walk-up window, one of our staff members has been leading yoga for us online. It’s been extremely helpful to find some sense of peace in the midst of the storm.”

Food Packages and Coffee from Finca Dos Jefes

While this Boquete, Panama-based farm has been closed off to their usual public coffee tours, Finca Dos Jefes has repurposed several of their drying beds for vegetable gardens. The food from these gardens is going to support the staff and family of the farm, as well as toward the indigenous communities of Comarca Ngabe-Bugle in Panama, a group they’ve supported for many years.

Dapper & Wise’s employee fund bags are hand-painted by co-owner Tyler Geel. Photo courtesy of Dapper & Wise.

Hand-Painted Coffee Bags by Dapper & Wise

COVID-19 relief initiatives have been thoughtful and innovative. In Portland, Ore., Dapper & Wise co-owner Tyler Geel used his own unique visual talents to hand-paint individual bags of coffee for the Furloughed Employee Fund Signature Bag. All proceeds from these bags go toward the baristas that the owners had to furlough during business shutdowns in Portland. “While I usually paint on large canvases, I wanted to use my artistic hand to help fundraise for our employees,” explains Tyler in Dapper & Wise’s blog post introducing the initiative. “These uncommon coffee bags are hand-painted individually so no two are alike. Yes, this is unusual and in these unprecedented times we’re all thinking outside the box to keep businesses afloat, but also to help each other.” You’ll definitely want to frame this bag after finishing it!

Rusty Dog’s community blend goes to a different organization of their patrons’ choice every week. Photo courtesy of Tony Bitner.

The COVID-19 Essential Worker Community Blend by Rusty Dog

During COVID-19’s first month of shelter-in-place rules in Madison, Wis., Rusty Dog Coffee donated 10% of their online coffee sales to the Dane County COVID-19 Emergency Fund. Now, they’ve got a unique community blend that’s going to frontline workers throughout the South Central Wisconsin area every week! Every week, they’re asking YOU to choose the hospital, first responder, or essential worker that needs this five-pound bag of goodness on their Instagram account. “This is a stressful time. I know that’s an understatement,” says Tony Bitner, co-owner at Rusty Dog. “We have day jobs, kids at home, and our own personal and financial stress right now, but we’re realizing that helping where we can really helps us get through these uncertain times.” Oh, and did we mention that each bag features a drawing from one of the owners’ children? Talk about endearing!

Pay-It-Forward Coffee Bags by Sons Coffee

In Forth Worth, Texas, Sons Coffee managed to send 500 Pay It Forward bags of coffee to families in financial need before their café’s recent reopening! “We know that right now, you may only have the resources to cover the essentials, and that a $15 or $20 bag of coffee may not make the list,” Sons Coffee explained on their Instagram account when they introduced the initiative. “We want to provide you a free bag to make these tough times a little more bearable.” They’re still going strong and accepting donations to help these families out; you can donate a bag to them here, or one to a friend in need too. You can also apply for the program yourself if you meet the criteria for demonstrating financial need.

About Katrina Yentch 221 Articles
Katrina Yentch (she/her) is a freelance writer and Barista Magazine's Online Editor. When she's not writing, you can find her napping, cooking, and drinking whatever's on drip.