Juan Gaspar of Cooperative El Sendero in Huehuetenango

Much has been written about how COVID-19 has and will continue to affect the coffee supply chain. News publications like yours truly, green buyers and importers, even roasters themselves, all have worked to report on the ways the pandemic is affecting specialty coffee throughout the supply chain. But when it comes the effects it has on producers, firsthand accounts are often hard to come by. It all gets filtered in one way or another through the outlet releasing it, including this one.

That’s why PrimaVera, an importer focusing on specialty coffees in Guatemala, is letting the producers tell how COVID-19 is affecting them in their own words and voices. With their new Video Interview Series, PrimaVera has boots on the ground talking with producers and letting them tell their own stories.

Far from the hi-def, glossy promotional photos and videos romanticizing the notion of coffee farming, the producer videos from PrimaVera are all shot on a phone camera by members of the importing company based in Guatemala. The lo-fi nature of the videos give an immediacy to what is being expressed by those being interviewed. Ranging anywhere between two and seven minutes, the videos give a platform for producers and put their stories front and center.

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The hope telling these stories, according to PrimaVera’s Hillary Rodriguez, is to show how the pandemic has affected each producer in different way and thus, there is no monolithic response.

“There are a lot of challenges for producers in coffee right now; the problems faced by countries currently in harvest like South American countries are quite different than the ones faced by our partners in Huehuetenango, in part because they are at different points in the crop cycle,” Rodriguez tells Sprudge. “The big takeaway for importers and roasters is that sourcing decisions will be more important than ever, balancing a fair price for the farmer with the financial sustainability of their businesses—but careful consideration of farmer needs is more important than ever before. Honest communication has never been more important for specialty coffee.”

Currently, PrimaVera has released five videos in the series, including Yusvi Aguilar, Rigoberto Mendoza, Brenda Velazquez Miriam, and Rosendo Domingo. Releasing a new video roughly once every week, the importer expects to put out a total of eight to 10 videos in total.

For PrimaVera, the future of specialty coffee post-COVID-19 is uncertain, but the path forward is not. “We believe that there are still a lot of unanswered questions about how we move forward together after this crisis, and nobody has all the answers. We must listen to people at all points, from farmers to cafe owners, and try to balance all their needs, even if it’s difficult to do logistically or financially,” Rodriguez states. “The good news is that, with telecommunications, we can keep up contact with even the smallest producer communities and keep inviting them into the conversation of where we would like the industry to go from here.”

More than just reading about these producer interviews, anyone at all interested in supply chain equity and quality of life for coffee producers should watch these videos and reflct on them. To check out the Video Interview Series, visit the PrimaVera Coffee Importers official website or watch them on their IGTV channel.

Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

Top image via PrimaVera Coffee Importers

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