My name is Erica Reyes and I write to you from the island of Puerto Rico, where just days ago we were hit by Hurricane Maria, a category four storm that passed through the main zone of the country with winds of 165 mph and dropped more than 30 inches of rain in a of 24 hrs. It goes without saying that our farms suffered total destruction.
Puerto Rico is not a large coffee producer, but there is a community of young entrepreneurs and new coffee growers here, promoting the culture and development of specialty coffees.
Many Puerto Rican producers, processors, roasters, baristas, and amateurs are also members of the SCA. Some of us, including myself, are Authorized SCA Trainers (ASTs) and serve as judges in barista competitions.
So many wonderful people I have met around the world have been in contact with me to find out how they can help. It is for this reason that I address you, as many colleagues have recommended— so that you may understand our situation firsthand and to find out how members of the SCA can help in moments like these.
Coffee growers of my generation have never faced destruction at this level and we want to ensure that our industry does not disappear, as has happened with other industries on our island. Perhaps this is a good opportunity to start again and organize our farms so that they are profitable and can supply the specialty coffee market, a goal that has been difficult to achieve for us given that our coffee culture is relatively young and already had farms that were operating under commercial coffee standards.
Perhaps it is too soon to think about this, because in these moments of crisis we have to live one day at a time, but I have no doubt that in the future we could renovate our farms and rebuild them again. Producers will need technical support in the form of seeds and replanting and we hope that we can count on the members of our community to help.
Thank you to all members of the SCA who have worried for us and sent messages of support. Thank you also because we in Puerto Rico have learned a lot from the global SCA community and it is precisely thanks to all of you that we have ventured into the culture of specialty coffee.
Communication lines (telephone and internet) in Puerto Rico are very limited at the moment, but we will stay in touch and update the community on the state of our island.
Thanks once again,
President and Founder
PR’s Café Cola’o
Escuela de Café y Baristas de PR
Coffee Producer, Hacienda Moraika, Orocovis PR
Authorized SCA Trainer
Barista, Roaster, Q Grader
Technical Judge WCE (WBC, WLAC)
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.
Click here to learn more.