I’ve often joked that there are only two reasons to get into the food and beverage industry, passion or a need to launder money. Most all small to medium sized food service businesses exist on razor thin margins. The coffee sector is no exception. What we do is difficult. The way we do it is even more difficult; working to ensure that our coffee producing friends are being paid a sustainable price for their crops, that our employees are making a livable wage and have access to healthcare and a nurturing, fulfilling work environment. We do this not because there’s a lot of money to be made in it. We willingly teeter on this tiny precipice, because we love to cultivate the spaces that bring people together.
And then something happens thousands of miles away that grows to threaten our livelihoods and all that we hold dear. We aren’t bankers. We can’t count on bail outs. All we can do is what we always do… work hard, love one another and find a way. Our friends in Rwanda have a saying and it’s fun to repeat. “Guma Guma”. In the Kinyarwanda language, it means “keep going”. It’s a way of saying, “we’re gonna get stronger and stay stronger, together.” I know that “Guma Guma” is happening in all sorts of ways. I’m so inspired by our little independent, quality focused corner of this industry. I’ve seen so much innovation and hustle, coffee professionals continuing to pull people together in emotional and even spiritual ways at a time when physical proximity is impossible. If I even so much as pretended to have some tangible and concise advice to offer, I’d be lying. We’re all in uncharted waters, right now. I just want you all to know that we love you all; our customers, baristas, farmers, and industry comrades. Stay safe. Keep doing the awesome things you’re doing. We will get through this. The fog will clear, and eventually, the pathways will be visible.
Together We Prevail.