SCA Members Rally to Support Organizations Providing Disaster Relief in the Coffeelands

SCA Members Rally to Support Organizations Providing Disaster Relief in the Coffeelands

Photo: Fallen trees at Hacienda Moraika in Orocovis, Puerto Rico. Photo by Erica Reyes. Click here to read her message to SCA members.

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.

We also heard from SCA member Kyle Dromgoole of Café Brujula who tells us that coffee regions have been affected by the addition of rains and mudslides that cut communities off from access to local markets. The Oaxaca Corazon project, a collaboration between singer Lila Downs, Café Brujula, and dozens of Mexican businesses, has raised 4.5 million pesos (~$240,000 USD) for those affected by the earthquakes.

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.

The strength of the SCA is in the skills and experience of our members. We will be working with CRS and Mercy Corps to connect them to the coffee professionals around the world who are able to volunteer their time to the long-term recovery work following these disasters.

Needs Assessment in Affected Countries
If you are a member of the coffee community in any of the affected countries, please fill out this survey to help us assess the specific needs of our producer communities and understand where and how to connect volunteers.

Volunteer Interest
If you are a professional interested in supporting relief efforts for the coffee sectors in the affected countries, please let us know by submitting your information using this form.

The email address is also available for anyone who wishes to get in touch with us via email.

We will continue to update SCA members with the latest news on these efforts via email, social media, and on our website at

October 11, 2017: Updated with information sent in by SCA member Kyle Dromgoole of Café Brújula.