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Coffee Farmers and COVID-19

Community Farmer Stories

As a fair trade coffee company committed to supporting the farming communities we purchase from, it’s our duty and mission to ask “how can we help?” - even when our own business faces strain and loss in the face of this global crisis. 

The first and best way to help is to continue to promote and sell fair trade, organic coffee. By paying farmers a higher price than the fairtrade minimum, supporting farmers’ organic practices, and strengthening long-term partnerships, we are helping to secure a future beyond COVID-19. 

Rio AzulGoing beyond that, in mid-April, we and 22 other coffee roasters in our cooperative committed to repurposing $130,000 of our impact fund (a pool of money generated from an Impact Premium we pay on every pound of coffee we purchase) to helping farmer cooperatives mitigate the impact of COVID-19. From delivering foodstuffs to cultivating vegetable gardens, these organizations are rolling out simple and practical responses to meet the immediate needs at play.  There’s no time like the present to leverage our collective power and support the partners who supply us so tirelessly. 

After years of coffee prices at record lows (not covering the cost of production), along with devastating effects of climate change on coffee farms, cooperatives are scrambling to figure out how to combat yet another catastrophe. More than ever, fair trade calls us to look beyond our interests and needs to support those in our communities who have far less than we do.


In a time of crisis, it’s natural and understandable to turn inwards, to protect ourselves and those we love and care for. These are troubling times for everyone. While we in the Global North know that eventually life will return to normal, it can still be scary, confusing, and unsettling to think about what the future holds. 

Now, imagine dealing with all of this when you’re already struggling with hunger, insufficient income, unemployment, lack of schooling, and inadequate (or non-existent) health care. That’s what millions of people in our world experience as they face this pandemic with far fewer resources and far less of a chance of making it through. These populations, which include the thousands of small scale coffee farmers we work with, were living “on the brink” before the coronavirus hit. Needless to say, for these countries and communities, the weight of the crisis is exponential. 

By purchasing from Equator and other Fair Trade coffee roasters, you are supporting both local and global families. For those who are able, we encourage you to buy fair where you can and know that when you buy Equator, you support a global effort to fight poverty. In times of crisis, let’s remember: we are all fellow citizens of one world and we are in this together.

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