Tip the Farmer Campaign Assists Coffee Growers During COVID-19

Bellwether Coffee teams up with cafés to provide tip donations for coffee farmers—and other Bellwether owners can do the same.


Photos courtesy of Bellwether Coffee

During the initial onset of COVID-19, many of the first concerns regarding the well-being of coffee people during the pandemic focused on baristas—with thousands of café employees getting laid off with little to no notice, many virtual tipjars launched to fill the pockets of these members of the industry before funds moved down the supply chain to coffee farmers. Bellwether Coffee, however, had been thinking about ways that coffee farmers would be affected early on.

Bellwether, manufacturer of the low-emission roaster, has created a campaign to help farmers during COVID-19.

Since March, the low-emission roaster manufacturer has been working on spearheading a campaign between Bellwether owners that helps coffee growers in need called Tip the Farmer; it officially launched in June of this year. Through financial donations, the program assists farmers like the cooperative at ASOPEP, who have mostly chosen to use these funds in two ways—through hiring local labor (because many cherry pickers travel from other countries to origin countries for work, many of them have been on travel restrictions), and by providing essential services to encourage staying at home.

The program was inspired by the constant need in the coffee industry to stay connected to all levels of the supply chain. “The goal behind starting Tip the Farmer was to create a program that would pay farmers fair wages and empower producers to achieve economic sustainability,” explains Grayson Caldwell, coffee program manager at Bellwether. “Tip the Farmer is about building connections across the coffee supply chain and (bridging) the gap between the end consumer and coffee producers.”

Here’s how the program works, and it’s quite simple: Any owner of a Bellwether roaster has the option of adding a surcharge to their payment systems for customers to donate to the cause. Once the money is collected by Bellwether, farmers then have the autonomy to spend it however they choose to support their own town’s needs. Although this program is called a “tip,” the transaction is completely separate from employee tip-outs.

As of this writing, there are 10 Bellwether clients currently involved with Tip The Farmer, that made an initial payment of $3,000 USD for the ASOPEP farm in Tolima, Colombia. With this donation, made in part by Capitola Coffee, the cooperative was able to distribute face masks to health-care workers, as well as help farmers stay away from nearby towns and hire locals during their harvest season. For Capitola owner Dax Johnson, “The program was easy to implement and resonates with … customers to learn more about the producers behind coffee and the full picture of coffee production.”

Bellwether is extending the invitation to all owners of its roasters to join the Tip the Farmer program to positively impact coffee producers!

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.