See how you can get involved with organizations offering relief to Hawaiian communities and coffee companies affected by the recent fires.
BY J. MARIE CARLAN
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Featured image by Kenneth R. Olson
The recent fires in Maui, Hawaii, have claimed at least 106 lives, making it the deadliest fire in the United States in the last century. Approximately 2,700 acres have burned altogether, and most of the coastal town of Lahaina has been destroyed. Updates at the official Maui County website report that power has been restored to most of West Maui’s residents; around 2,000 remain without power, excluding the approximately 2,000 homes and businesses destroyed in the fire.
Heavy Loss for Coffee Companies
Included in those stark numbers are several specialty-coffee companies that received damage to or completely lost their cafés.
The Maui Coffee Association (MCA) promotes coffee roasted and grown in Maui and has been working since 2005. MauiGrown Coffee, a member of the MCA, was hit hard by the fires. “MauiGrown Coffee lost their store, part of their mill, and most of their warehoused green coffee. Fires in Upcountry may have missed local growers, but we are still gathering information,” MCA wrote in an Instagram update.
According to recent reports, many of Maui’s coffee farms have been spared from damage thanks to the efforts of firefighters working to contain the flames. But specialty shop owners in Lahaina have been devastated by the fire.
Lahaina Cafés Hit
Cafe Cafe Maui posted an Instagram photo of the burned-out shell of their building. Beside it was a photo of the colorful construction from before the fire, decorated with flowers, a bright “Aloha sign,“ and a bright red Vespa. Their café sign portrayed an island bird and a rainbow. “Our town is under ashes,” the caption reads. “Many people lost their jobs, lost their houses, lost their city. We are sad but we believe in rebuilding and standing strong under the rainbow.”
A GoFundMe has been set up by Christina Pundyke, owner of Alba’s Cuban Coladas, to help Maui coffee businesses get back on their feet. The businesses mentioned in the GoFundMe post were Bad Ass Coffee, Belle Surf Café, Cafe Cafe Maui, Vigilatte Artisan Coffee, Drift Coffee, Keiki Bowls Cafe, and Maui Island Coffee.
“As a small business owner,” Christina writes on the GoFundMe page, “I know how important it is to support family-owned establishments. They are the heart and soul of any city, town, or in this case, our beautiful little island of Maui. Hundreds of them were lost in the fire, and we wish we could name them all.”
Additionally, Vigilatte Artisan Coffee has set up its own GoFundMe campaign for its shop and its neighbors. Aria Rich, co-owner of Vigilatte, expressed how devastating the fire was for their business. “All of our employees are without a job and homes were burnt down,” Aria writes on the campaign’s page. “It will cost an unprecedented amount to rebuild what we lost, including sheltering and caring for our staff. Every resident of Lahaina has been affected.”
The Maui Coffee Association recommends donations go to these verified funds, which will provide direct aid to the community: Maui Mutual Aid (scroll down to Online Donation Funds), Maui United Way, and the Maui Strong Fund.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
J. Marie Carlan (she/they) is the online editor for Barista Magazine. She’s been a barista for 15 years and writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. When she’s not behind the espresso bar or toiling over content, you can find her perusing record stores, collecting bric-a-brac, writing poetry, and trying to keep the plants alive in her Denver apartment. She occasionally updates her blog.
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