Hospital workers are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. While even those of us with no connection (yet) to the virus have been nonetheless affected—financially, mentally, emotionally—the physical threat to hospital workers is tangible. As we are all social distancing and Zooming for a semblance of normalcy, they are running towards imminent danger on a daily basis.
And some coffee shops, even as the industry like so many others seems to be crumbling all around them, are trying to do their part to assist some of the most important people on earth right now, and they are doing it in a the way only they can: with coffee. Coffee companies across the globe, both large and small, are stepping up to get coffee into the hands of hospital workers to play whatever small role they can in the fight against COVID-19.
Big names in all sectors of the coffee market are pitching in. Starbucks, perhaps the biggest name, is giving away free tall brewed coffee at participating US stores to all “front-line responders,” including doctors, nurses, other hospital staffers, police, firefighters, and paramedics. Through their Joy in Childhood Foundation, Dunkin' has been making stops at hospitals around Massachusetts to serve coffee to workers. And regional convenience store/national treasure Wawa is offering free coffee to all “first responders and health care workers who are keeping our communities safe during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Not to be outdone, a host of specialty cafes have created donation opportunities to get coffee delivered directly to hospitals. In New York City, Everyman Espresso has created a new program called Fueling Frontlines NYC to get coffee to “essential workers” in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, For as little as $25, Everyman will deliver 94 ounces of brewed coffee (all the way up to $1,000 to get coffee to 600 workers!) to essential workers who have applied to receive coffee, which can be done here. In a similarly monikered effort in North Carolina, Joe Van Gogh‘s Fuel For The Frontlines allows individuals to order hot or cold coffee as well as coffee go-withs like muffins, banana bread, scones, and chocolate chip cookies and choose the destination for their purchase to be delivered. Currently they are serving UNC Hospitals Chapel Hill, Durham Police Department, Weaver Street Market in Chapel Hill, and Whole Foods Markets in Durham and Chapel Hill.
Similar efforts are taking place across Europe. In Berlin, The Barn is doing more of a crowdsourcing to get coffee to hospitals. Through their website, folks can donate as little as €10 for 10 cups of coffee all the way up to 50 cups for €30. Then, at the beginning of the next week, The Barn will compile all the donations accrued and deliver them to one of two local Berlin hospitals: Charité (Mitte Campus) and Unfall-Krankenhaus (UKB). London's Rosslyn Coffee, in collaboration with Origin Coffee Roasters, is matching every coffee purchase via their website with a donation to National Health Services. Similarly in Paris, Belleville Brûlerie is matching all purchases of their Assemblage Petits Soins (Little Care Assembly) with a donation to a local Paris hospital.
MadLab Coffee in Los Angeles is forgoing the customer donation element entirely and is footing the bill themselves. Using bike messengers to deliver, owner Andrew Sinclair is a socially-distancing appropriate one-person roasting operation that has been sending around 15 pounds of brewed coffee as well as five-pound bags each to hospitals and pop-up hospitals all around LA. “Are we using up our supply of green coffee? Yep. Does it make business sense? Nope. Is it more important to serve our nurses and Doctors? Yep,” Sinclair tells Sprudge. “This is LA. We take care of our neighbors. We'll keep doing this until we run out of coffee or until someone tells us to stop or until I get COVID-19 and have to be in the hospital.”
For other coffee companies looking to get coffee into the hands of front line workers, Sinclair has some advice. “Call first and ask how they can receive it or if they can receive it. We kind've got educated by just doing it, but we ended up talking through with the hospitals how to make it work.” Sinclair explains, “I have to take every bike messengers temp before they receive the coffee for delivery, and I have to make sure we're wearing face masks and gloves whenever we're brewing, and also sanitizing our travelers with a food-safe sanitizer aerosol spray. We're taking the same precautions at the roastery whenever we roast and doing the same sanitizing with packages leaving the roastery.”
These are just a few of the many community-focused initiatives coffee companies are taking part in. Is one of your local roasters pitching in? Maybe it means getting coffee to front lines workers or maybe it is something more creative, like Dallas' Full City Rooster, who has turned their now-shuttered cafe space as a collection point and storage facility for much-needed items like gloves and masks to be donated to health care workers. Whatever it is, we want to hear about it. Let us hear all the inventive ways coffee companies are chipping in.
Note from our healthcare heroes: Coordinate donation programs with your local hospitals. Call ahead and avoid overburdened hospital entrances/intake areas.
Top image via Adobe Stock