Last week we brought you the voices of baristas and cafe owners from around the world as they discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting their lives and their businesses. We also put a call out to you, the readers, to hear your thoughts and to see how the crisis has impacted you (thus far. This is a day-to-day moving target we are all trying to navigate together).
And respond you did. With nearly 200 surveys answered representing 18 countries across five continents, the global response we've seen truly underpins the gravity of this worldwide situation. The answers to our 10 question survey have expressed frustration, hope, anxiety, solidarity, and just about everything in between. We've compiled the responses along with select quotes from individuals around the globe, which we bring you to now.
We're all in this together, y'all. Stay safe and be kind.
How would you rate the COVID-19 response in your state, city, or local community?
The vast majority of folks, a little over two-thirds of all surveyed, believe the response has been fair to good, with the number who believe the reaction has been poor thus far over doubling those who believe it has been great.
Poor: “The death toll in Washington and the confirmed cases are very high and the city hasn't been ordered to shut down yet.” – Kate (Seattle, Washington)
Fair: “Too little, too late. Nobody is taking ‘guidelines' seriously. More drastic measures should be taken nationwide.” – Louisa (Houston, Texas)
Good: “In Poland, we are advised not to leave our houses. All gastronomy and malls are closed, however, you can serve food take-away. Schools are closed until Easter.” – Jan (Bielsko-Biała, Poland)
Great: “I live in California, who put strict regulations in place before anywhere in the US” – Stephanie (East Bay, California)
Have you or do you expect to lose your job or means of employment due to COVID-19?
It goes without saying that there is a lot of uncertainty right now, and these results bear that out. There's an almost even split between they Yeses, Nos, and Maybes. Luckily, the No category holds a slight advantage.
Yes: “I am the director of education at a 25 person company. The company is now the owner and the director of operations due to financial constraints.” – Ian (Lima, Peru)
No: “I am a small business owner and have had to cut my expenses to next to nothing in order to weather the storm. Unfortunately, this also means laying off valuable team members. Doing so gives us a chance to sustain and have a company for our beloved employees to return to.” – Michelle (McAllen, Texas)
Maybe: “Our cafe can last these 2 weeks at reduced hours & sales but not much longer than 2 weeks.” – Andrew (Mountain View, California)
Do you plan to travel domestically or internationally for coffee conferences at any point in 2020?
An overwhelming majority of respondents have no intention of traveling for the remainder of 2020, with 25% still holding out hope that it will become more feasible in the future. Only 12 folks expect to make a coffee conference this year.
Yes: “Life has to go on at some point.” – Anonymous (Boston, Massachusetts)
No: “I qualified to compete at Expo, but canceled my flights three weeks ago. Everything should be canceled.” – Sarah (Dallas, Texas)
Too soon to tell: “At this stage, most of the coffee events or competitions are postponed to at least the second half of the year. If the concern of the virus is gone, I would definitely reconsider taking part in those events. But it seems too early to tell.” – GFHK (Hong Kong)
If you work in or own a coffee shop, have you adapted to COVID-19 by changing business practices?
Of the cafes still open as of taking the survey, a total of 82% have taken some measures due to COVID-19, be they offering to-go only or more regularly cleaning or going cashless. Still, 17 respondents state that their cafes have made no changes. Almost a third of the cafes have closed.
Yes: “We adapted enhanced sanitation measures as well as a ‘one-way policy,” where drinks and other items go out to the customer and don't come back.” – Jordan (Portland, Oregon)
No: “The company that I was working for basically did the minimum that was legally required: removed seating, stopped serving coffee in to stay cup or travel mugs. I felt that they should have been doing more to enforce social distancing, although the shop did seem to get slower this past week, there were still many times when there was a line in the shop and things started to get crowded.” – S. (New York City)
We have now closed: “All staff laid off. They are better off with unemployment than what we can do for them right now. Sales were down 85% pre-business restriction. There was not enough money coming in to cover payroll, let alone rent, and COG.” – Andrew (New York City)
If you’ve lost your job in coffee due to COVID-19, do you think you’ll come back to coffee once more opportunities become available?
What the specialty coffee industry looks like after COVID-19—and who will remain a part of it—is unclear. Nearly half of all those respondents who lost their jobs are planning to return to the coffee industry. The rest, though, aren't quite so sure.
Yes: “Coffee, and those that serve it, are my passion. As long as there is ‘spro to sip and people to enjoy it with I will continue to make coffee my chosen career.” – Juniper (Portland, Oregon)
No: “After 15 years, I have soured on the coffee world (retail in particular), so I was already looking for other opportunities before I was laid off due to COVID-19.” – Josh (Chicago, Illinois)
Maybe: “My employer has told me that I have a secure job with them when conditions become favorable again. At this point in time I am not sure when that will be, and there is too much unknown to decide what to do next.” – E. (Minnesota)
I have no idea right now: “I have no clue. I feel completely adrift, which is weirdly freeing but also scary. I am prepared to enter a different industry if needed but after years of specialty coffee work I hate to give up.” – SW (Charleston, South Carolina)
What organizations, publications, or facets of the coffee industry have you looked to for leadership in the past month?
There are a lot of groups in the industry doing their damnedest to keep pressing onward, some for advice on how to proceed and others for small moments of distraction.
“We've been looking to our peers in the local coffee scene to see what other shops were doing to navigate this crisis… adopting policies that make sense in regards to our particular space.” – Craig (Austin, Texas)
“Sprudge, Colleen Anunu, and Peter Giuliano. But mostly I've been inspired by the steps many coffee cooperatives (particularly across Latin America) have been taking to lead on social distancing while ensuring food security for their members (see this PSA from APROCASSI in Peru or ASOPEP in Colombia delivering food to their members who can't travel to town for the market.” – Anonymous (Somerville, Massachusetts)
“Through social media learning what other shops like myself are doing to survive. Connecting personally with close friends and business contacts on how to accommodate drastic up to an 80-90% decreases in revenue practically overnight.” – Buck (New York City)
“James Hoffmann keeping us entertained with home brewing videos.” – Luke (Taipei, Taiwan)
Let’s pretend there was no COVID-19 and money was no object: where would you like to be sipping on a nice espresso right about now?
Because we'd all like to be just about anywhere else right now, we wanted to end on something more positive. Almost have wanted to be back in their beloved neighborhood cafe, but many wrote in some rather fine places we wouldn't mind sipping on a filter brew. Here are some of our favorites.
“Finca El Fenix in Colombia, in my favorite hammock.” – Brooke (United Kingdom)
“A recently discovered shop in the Southwest, with my fiancé in our rented camper van.” – Harrison (Bloomington, Indiana)
“A holiday trip and Expo to Melbourne.” – Alif (Singapore)
“An apple orchard surrounded by vineyards playing tag with my family.” – Erich (Bay Area, California)
“At my fav surf beach in Australia drinking from my Nordic wooden cup.” – Hannah (Europe)