Throughout the month of July, Burundi coffee importer JNP Coffee has been donating 5% of its green coffee sales to the nonprofit GoFundBean for a fund to supply grants to baristas in financial need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fundraising effort runs through Friday, July 31.
“We believe that with more information about the virus and with the numbers of infected folks going up that a second run of reduced hours and furloughs are only a matter of time,” GoFundBean Executive Director Adam JacksonBey recently told Daily Coffee News via email. “That’s why we’ve partnered with JNP Coffee and are aggressively pursuing other collaborations so that we can be best positioned to help when these things do happen.”
Washington D.C.-based coffee pro Jackson-Bey led a group in the launch GoFundBean back in March as the COVID-19 pandemic quickly wreaked havoc on the coffee retail sector. The platform continues today as a large virtual tip jar aggregator supporting individuals and coffee companies alike struggling with financial hardship due to work loss, yet the platform has also received larger corporate support.
In April, Melitta USA announced it was donating proceeds from online sales of pourover equipment from a three-month period to GoFundBean.
For its part, JNP Coffee is contributing 5% from all eligible sales of one bag or more of green coffee. Roasters interested in supporting the effort should indicate the code GFB2020 in contacting JNP Coffee here or via email at [email protected]
Grants will be awarded by GoFundBean based on an application process that will assess financial hardship related to the coronavirus pandemic. application updates are available here.
With offices in Burundi and Massachusetts, JNP was founded by Jeanine Niyonzima-Aroian, who source quality microlots of Burundian coffee with a particular focus on supporting women producers.
From JacksonBey’s perspective, the partnership with JNP is an example of how the industry can continue to support struggling baristas in the United States as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the retail sector.
“[Go Fund Bean] has transitioned from being a repository for virtual tip jars into an entity of our own, but I do feel like we have been able to grow as an organization pretty organically and the tip jar page has always been pretty prominent on the website,” JacksonBey said. “We actually have another, larger website revision that we’re working on that currently we’re really excited about that we feel will be more user-friendly and have more information.”
The timing of the fundraising effort is particularly important as many eligible hourly workers will no longer be receiving the $600 per week unemployment bonus that was part of the CARES Act economic stimulus. That may require tough choices about essential services such as healthcare.
“That is a real fear, and will affect how much and where baristas are working in the near future,” JacksonBey said. “Again, that comes with a mental toll as folks have to make this decision with their back against the wall, choosing their financial health versus their physical health.”
Freelance writer, editor and GoFundBean Founding Board Member Valorie Clark told Daily Coffee News that the group conducted a survey of baristas in June. In that survey, 53% of respondents said they had been laid off, and 33% had not yet returned to work or found a new job as of late June.
“In our survey, less than 30% of cafes had rehired their entire former staff,” Clark said. “That’s a lot of coffee professionals who remain unemployed.”
JacksonBey offered a message to baristas and other workers struggling financially as the pandemic unfolds.
“Take care of yourself in the best way you know how. Find joy where you can. And [remember] that you are doing everything during a pandemic and nothing is normal,” JacksonBey said. “Remember that you’re doing great.”