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Blog: These Weird Times

Blog: These Weird Times
March 20-23, 2020

Sweet Maria's is still shipping orders, with a delay of 3-5 business days from our normal turn-around because of high volume. We closed our front retail space and are asking locals to ship their orders starting today, complying with our state directives.

I know it's been a huge adjustment for all of us! But we are happy to offer some normalcy and perhaps comfort of home roasting in these times. From social media we can see how much this means to people, to have something nice they can preserve while everything else seems so topsy-turvy.

As far as the coffee trade, there doesn't seem to be issues with importation and supply at this time. We haven't had delays on our inbound ocean shipments or issues with trucking and logistics.

At Sweet Maria's we continue to tune our safety practices for the sake of our crew and customers. We operate in a large space so everyone can practice distancing. We have special hand-washing practices now, sanitization of all our tools and tape guns, no sharing of equipment, and we have plenty of masks and gloves!

Most importantly we monitor for any illness, have ample sick-leave (which we have extended) and everyone has health coverage! We have a few staff that held second jobs and have been laid off: So everyone is deeply appreciative of still having good-paying work, and completely understand that health and safety (for themselves, for their co-workers, for the customers) is top priority to keep operating.

We understand that mail order packages are not a great medium to transmit the virus, and we have done everything we can on our end to make sure we are not giving this pandemic a chance! It would not be surprising if the outside of your package has a faint bleach smell. All our tools and table tops are sanitized with the recommended dilution of beach/water. The coffee itself will be quite fine though. We always handle it as a food item because ... it is!

Maria and I have decided to give 25% of profit to homeless organizations, senior meal-delivery service, and food banks. Instead of waiting, we estimated this in amount and already sent the funds, backdating to last week to make sure it reflected the start of the quarantine. $14,000 has been sent to 5 local organizations

-Thompson,   March 23, 2020

March 13, 2020

Returning from Ethiopia a couple days ago, it occurred to me how completely impossible it would be too keep yourself healthy on a long, long flight if someone truly was contagious.  But this was just a thought. Everyone was fine. I was super careful.

I am thinking about those who won't be fine though. In the airports and lounges, I saw so many service workers who would possibly be impacted economically by a drop in air travel. And physically, they are exposed to nearly every contaminated surface, every countertop and handrail and elevator button that all these travelers touch. I was surprised how many of these workers are older,  50-60+ years, how many appear to be immigrants, and wonder how secure they are in their jobs. A lot of these seem to be “contractor” jobs, which I worry don't provide the same guarantees as other jobs.

Of course those on the front-lines in healthcare and other professions are perhaps more exposed. I feel empathy for all these people, for the impact on work, on family life, on child- and elder-care… and I am thinking of the homeless who can't protect themselves as most of us can.

I also worry about declining coffee sales in the global north, and the potential coffee prices paid to growers in the global south will drop. Prices are already too low in the commercial arena. What happens now if big roasters slash their purchasing of green coffee?  [On the international nature of global coffee prices, they used to say "Brazil sneezes and the world catches a cold." It meant that any hint of frosty weather in Brazil that would damage coffee trees would cause the global price set in New York would soar.  This may hold on the demand side too...]
So no matter how you feel about the dangers of Covid-19, there are many reasons to take it seriously.

We care a lot about our own group here at Sweet Maria’s and have informed all staff on best practices. Our employees are all provided with health care. We have extended paid sick time and stated that nobody feeling ill come to work, period. We are following the current guidelines for cleaning from the CDC (we actually always step up our cleaning practices during flu season). We are sanitizing all our work stations, tools and tape guns.

We have been revising our approach as this unfolds, daily, but we feel the first order of business is to take care of our employees and workplace here at Sweet Maria’s, and then communicate to our customer base.   I look forward to the day when we can look back at how this all unfolded and take stock. But right now we are in the middle of something.