SCA Members Rally To Support Organizations Providing Disaster Relief In Coffeelands

Oct. 9, 2017

Dozens of SCA members have volunteered to provide help for coffee communities affected by natural disasters in Puerto Rico and Mexico, following a call for support from the SCA and the Guilds. Over the weekend, attendees at the Roaster Guild of Europe’s Roaster Camp participated in a fundraising event and donated close to €1000 to Catholic Charities USA and Mercy Corps to support their relief efforts. The fundraising will continue at the Barista Guild of Europe’s Camp taking place now. Additionally, specialty coffee businesses around the world have rallied to host their own fundraisers.

While telephone lines and internet connections have been impacted by the disasters, especially in Puerto Rico, we have managed to get in touch with a few coffee professionals. Their message is clear— the work that will be needed to recover is both short and long-term and they are counting on the international coffee community to help now and in the future.

In Puerto Rico, the majority of residents remain without power and almost all agricultural production has been lost, including coffee. Erica Reyes, an SCA member from the island, sent us this message where she thanks the community for the outpouring of support, describes the worries of the Puerto Rican coffee community, and explains that producers will need major technical aid in the coming months and years.

In Mexico, our information on the effects that the earthquakes have had on production is limited. We did hear from Enrique Lopez, an SCA member based in the state of Oaxaca. Enrique is the founder of INOVACAFE, a research and extension institute that supports 500 smallholder coffee farmers in the region. He reports that many farmers have suffered extensive damage to their processing infrastructure as well as to their homes.

As we write this, we are seeing reports that Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica have been hit by a tropical storm. The devastation to coffee producers in these countries will undoubtedly be enormous.

Support Disaster Relief Today and in the Future
The needs in these coffee producing countries are immense. Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Charities USA, and Mercy Corps are doing the immediate and important work of providing disaster relief to communities in need and we encourage those who are able, to donate to their relief efforts.

CRS and Mercy Corps are long-time partners of the specialty coffee community through programs like the CRS Coffeelands Project. Leaders of the SCA and the Guilds are in contact with representatives of both organizations who have staff on the ground assessing the needs of farmers.