Coffee Businesses Providing COVID-19 Relief: Part Two

We continue our coverage of coffee companies and cafés supporting people most affected by coronavirus.


COVID-19 has temporarily shut the doors of our favorite cafés and coffee businesses. As stay-at-home measures are extended, some businesses are seeing these #tryingtimes as opportunities to help their communities. In our ongoing coverage of coffee folks providing coronavirus-related aid, here are five more businesses that are helping. (Check out our first part of this article here.)

The Coffee Shop Strikes Back! (#kawiarniekontratakuja) is an initiative from Hard Beans Coffee Roasters in Opole, Poland. For every online order, 15% of proceeds will go to the customer’s café of choice. Graphic courtesy of Krzysztof Barabosz.

The Coffee Shop Strikes Back! by Hard Beans Coffee Roasters

The Opole, Poland-based coffee roaster has been helping in several ways, starting with using the hashtag #pijelokalne (#drinklocal) to promote Polish roasters during the pandemic. They went a step further by rolling out The Coffee Shop Strikes Back! (#kawiarniekontratakuja) movement, which donates 15% of online coffee sales to the Polish café chosen by the customer. Other Polish roasters have joined the effort, including Java Coffee Roasters, HAYB, the White Bear Coffee Roasters, and Story Coffee Roasters. To date, Hard Beans has raised $600 from 175+ online orders. They have also been utilizing Instagram Live to host producer/roaster chats, in which they interview coffee producers about how COVID-19 has affected their communities.

Community Grocery by Ahaba Coffee

Connected with the All Hallows Bow Church in London, Ahaba Coffee decided to add grocery staples to their business in a no-contact environment. By doing this, they hope to help “ease anxiety of those in the community who are concerned about going into a grocery store, as well as stocking items that many grocery stores are out of,” says Ahaba manager Elena Nelson. Customers can purchase staples that stores frequently run out of while grabbing a coffee. 

Aid for Frontline Workers and Single Moms by Down Dog Coffee Roasters

The Redlands, Calif.-based Down Dog Coffee Roasters has prioritized empowering women locally and globally since their inception, fostering a connection with local nonprofit Thrive Single Moms, for which they have done fundraisers in the past. COVID-19 stay-home mandates are especially significant for single moms, who may find themselves underemployed or without school or daycare for their kids. Down Dog advertised free coffee for anyone who donated a gift card of any amount for Thrive, and they raised $657 for the organization in one day. They have also donated coffee to Redlands Community Hospital, Loma Linda Children’s Hospital, and Redlands Fire Department. 

To involve their community, Down Dog ran a special: For every two bags of coffee purchased, a third would be donated to a health-care provider, first responder, or essential worker of the buyer’s choosing. Down Dog also encourages their Instagram followers to nominate an essential worker they want to recognize for their hard work by DM-ing their picture and a kind message about them. Nominees are posted on Down Dog’s Instagram stories, and three are chosen weekly to receive a bag of coffee. 

Grand Junction, Colo.-based Copeka Coffee offers free, socially distant, walk-in coffee for service industry workers, rosemary lavender cold-brew latte kits for respiratory therapists at hospitals, and Steeped coffee bags for migrant workers. Pictured is Killian Bailey. Photo by Kyra Rossier.

Free Coffee and Steeped bags for Migrant Workers from Copeka Coffee

Copeka Coffee is newer to their Grand Junction, Colo., home, but they’ve been a socially conscious café since the beginning, giving free coffee to whoever is in need, and partnering with groups that advocate for undocumented and migrant workers. Since COVID-19, they’ve advertised free batch brew to service industry workers through socially distant walk-in service, free bags of coffee, and they created rosemary lavender cold-brew latte kits for respiratory therapists at hospitals.

Since the peach crop has been decimated, many migrant workers in Western Colorado have been stranded in the field. Volunteers who would usually go talk to them about their visa status are social distancing, leaving the workers in a precarious situation. Copeka is offering Steeped bags, single-serve coffee-tea bags, to farm workers, distributed by social workers and volunteers who continue to visit them. The Copeka team is also sewing face masks out of flour bags, which are free for a donation.

Baristas Demi Chacon, Sebastian Valencia, and Genesis Navarro behind the pop-up espresso bar at Hillsborough Hope. Photo by Stephanie Avendano.

Pop-Up Espresso for the Houseless by Yellow Rooster and The Helping Coffee Project

The local government and Catholic charities in Tampa, Fla., established an emergency homeless encampment called Hillsborough Hope. This motivated the teams at Yellow Rooster and The Helping Coffee Project, along with local baristas and community members, to band together and host a pop-up coffee shop at the site. Volunteers arrive at 5 a.m. every day, set up the espresso machine, serve coffee for a few hours, then break down and store the equipment on-site. For Stephanie Avendano, one of the owners of Yellow Rooster and The Helping Coffee Project, the effort isn’t about promoting any coffee business, but about bringing people together in a simple gesture of sharing coffee. “I can’t really put into words how special the residents felt when they saw a special [latte art] heart just for them. Most of them had never seen anything like that before. We brought in samples of green coffee so they could see how the coffee is imported and we would explain which origin the coffee came from. It was so special hearing from them which origins they liked the best, and every day they ask which origin we are serving,” Stephanie says. “It is love that is connecting all of us there. Coffee just happens to be what we’re serving.”

Stay tuned as we continue our ongoing coverage of how coffee businesses are helping their communities during COVID-19.

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Mark Van Streefkerk
is Barista Magazine’s social media content developer and a frequent contributor. He is also a freelance writer, social media manager, and novelist based out of Seattle. If Mark isn’t writing, he’s probably biking to his favorite vegan restaurant. Find out more on his website.