With the impact of COVID-19 greater for small businesses owned by minorities and marginalized individuals, we launched The ComeTogether Cafe Fund with Glitter Cat, Mage, and Go Fund Bean in August. Individual donors (you!) and industry sponsors came together to raise $19,000 for five specialty coffee businesses.
The selection committee was made up of representatives from different corners of the coffee community. They reviewed all applications and chose grant receivers in order to cover any biases the creators of this relief fund may have. We couldn't be more grateful for their donation of time and efforts to help these small businesses! Now, without further ado, introducing the first ComeTogether Cafe Fund recipients were affectionately calling Cohort #1.
Meet Cute Coffee - $3,000
Who: Cute Coffee is more than just a drink. It’s a movement built on dreaming, believing, and achieving. We are Dreaming that specialty coffee can be approachable and accessible to everyone. We are Believing that specialty coffee can serve a higher purpose, bridge gaps between us all, and contribute to prosperity for every single hand involved. One coffee at a time we are Achieving anything we set our hearts and minds to. We truly do direct trade because we want to build long lasting friendships with our farmers and producers. All of our farms we source from are run by women and their families. It's been a beautiful journey thus far. The future is Bright with integrity in your cup. Keep it Cute or Put it on Mute!
Where: Oakland, CA and @ilovecutecoffee
What’s Happened: “The current event that has filled the air initially halted all of our coffee from even getting into the country. So at one point, we were a coffee company with no coffee because the borders were not open. Then borders finally opened back up and two months later were able to receive our coffee shipments that we directly sourced from some amazing coffee farms. It has also made us redesign how we were about to move with our business. We can no longer open up our pop-up cafe in Santa Rosa as planned and it is uncertain to us whether or not our shared roasting facility will continue to stay open. To play it safe, we feel it is best to prepare to move on. So we need to get some funds together to start a roasting facility/coffee lab and get a delivery truck. We have had many inquiries on local delivery and have tried our best to make it happen. From our experience of riding all around town delivering fresh coffee, trying to pack my tiny SUV with all the supplies we need to take to the roasting facility, and currently not having a pick up location for folks, we notice we are now in need of a truck. We started thinking what if we have a truck where we can roast coffee, package, ship, deliver, do all the necessary coffee lab stuff, and even have a place for people to pick up from, we would be golden! We could go anywhere and have all our supplies in one place!”
Meet 1951 Coffee Company - $5,000
Who: 1951 Coffee Company, founded in 2015, is a non-profit specialty coffee organization that promotes the well-being of the refugee community in the United States by providing job training and employment to refugees, asylees, and special immigrant visa holders while educating the surrounding community about refugee life and issues.
Where: Berkeley, CA and @1951coffee
What’s Happened: “Due to the current crisis, we have had to close two of our three cafes. Two of the cafes rely heavily on the students and staff at UC Berkeley. Our busiest cafe was located in the UC Student Union and has been closed for six months with no sign of reopening until campus life can return to normal. And our Rockridge, Oakland café simply wasn’t seeing enough business to stay open. Pre-COVID, we had 25 baristas working at our three cafes. Now we are down to three full-time at our Flagship cafe, which is located just South of campus.This café has seen a 60% decrease in sales due to classes being online at UC Berkeley and a dramatic reduction in the occupancy of nearby dorms by more than 75%.”
Meet Vertex Coffee Roasters - $3,000
Who: At Vertex Coffee Roasters, we strive to honor the entire coffee process and the people involved by serving high quality coffee and creating a welcoming and inclusive environment. We care about sharing and committing to zero waste practices, ushering opportunities for creativity and the arts, providing space for public events (safely during COVID times), and bringing communities together alongside providing high quality coffee.
Where: Ann Arbor, MI and @vertexcoffeeroasters
What’s Happened: “The crisis has impacted our business in multiple ways. We closed our cafe in March and started an online store with local delivery and nationwide shipping. One of our major costs is more staffing so everyone feels safe and supported during their shift. Since no guests are entering the cafe the flow of the shift requires two baristas at all times during the day which is an increase. We are purchasing more PPE, patio updates, and protective supplies for the cafe. Although our main goal as a business as a whole is not solely to make a profit, but instead are sustainability, community, and quality, we have not made a profit since before COVID-19 and it is unknown if we will have to close the cafe again due to high numbers of University students returning to classes. The support we need for recovery would help assure that we will have the financial stability to continue operating now and in the future.”
Photo Credit: Ian Wilkinson
Meet The Hideaway Café - $3,000
Who: At Hideaway, we believe that a neighborhood café should be a place where you can always find great conversation, a spot that is central to the community’s cultural identity, and a place that plays a crucial role as a safe space for anyone and everyone--regardless of race, color, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, disability, etc. We are proud to be the community's cafe, serving drinks and food with love, compassion, and a commitment to service that has allowed us to be repeatedly recognized as the regional top independently owned coffeehouse.
Where: Winchester, VA and @hideawaycafeva
What’s Happened: While sales have been less than we'd like, costs have also been increasing. Gloves, for example, are costing more than ever. We are also providing the highest quality PPE we can to our valued employees and strictly limiting capacity to do our part to combat COVID19, and those unexpected expenses are tremendous for a small business like ours. The cancellation of our monthly drag shows (the area's only all-ages show allowing event LGBTQIA+ youth to experience this part of queer culture) alone is the equivalent in $18,000 in revenues. Cancelation of our monthly trivia has reduced our capacity for annual giving, as that event raised close to $15,000 annually for local charities. We are working hard, and we know we are doing the right thing, but between sales that are 60% of what they should be and our complete dedication to maintaining a safe working environment for staff (meaning, we require masks and limit direct customer contact, which some guests don't like), it's been a tough year.
Meet Dirt Coffee Bar - $5,000
Who: Dirt is a nonprofit coffee shop with a mission to train, employ and empower individuals with neurodiversities while equipping our community to do the same. We break the expectation that a good cause comes with a lack of quality. Our baristas are neurodiverse, socially conscious, and craft a damn good cup of coffee.
Where: Littleton, CO and @dirtcoffeebar
What’s Happened: We have had to close our doors for a period of time, furlough our employees during that time and have seen a dramatic decrease in sales. We are also unable to host our major fundraising events which could have helped to offset our decrease in sales and pay for new COVID-19 related expenses.
Thank You To Our Cohort #1 Sponsors!
With individual donors giving $8,000 and industry sponsors coming together for another $12,500, five specialty coffee businesses will be better equipped to face the financial hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Torani is a family owned flavor company based in the San Francisco area and has been producing flavors for beverages, since 1925. Torani has enticed flavor adventurists with its popular syrups and sauces, putting Italian soda on the map and making the world’s first flavored latte. Today, Torani syrups, sauces and flavors can be found across the United States and around the world, in thousands of cafes and retail outlets. In practice and life beyond the bottle, Torani, a certified B Corp, believes businesses should create more opportunity and is dedicated to helping all the people, partners, and communities they touch thrive.
A core value of Torani is to care deeply for people and it’s important for us to extend that care to our partners all throughout the coffee community. Independent cafes have been integral to Torani’s success for decades and we believe it’s our duty to offer our support now more than ever amidst the struggles of COVID-19. Torani has established the Café Opportunity Fund to support cafés and baristas in need by partnering with incredible organizations like Come Together. We are so honored to get to be a part of Come Together’s mission to support and uplift the underrepresented and marginalized groups in the independent coffee community.
ESPRO, a division of Regal Ware, re-imagines traditional manual brewing equipment for people with a passion for coffee. We believe people should have the freedom to brew the coffee they desire whenever and wherever life takes them. Change the way you coffee, today. www.espro.com
Coffee lovers and cafes go hand in hand. It’s where we catch up with friends, catch up on work, or just sit still for awhile, all while enjoying a great cup of coffee. We couldn’t imagine life without these establishments. The economic impact of the pandemic has devastated so many businesses and individuals. While we’ve felt the impact too, we knew we needed to help support the small specialty coffee businesses that make this industry so amazing. So many of our favorite baristas, cafes, and roasters are run by minorities and marginalized people. We are moved by the mission of The ComeTogether Cafe Fund and supporting it was a simple decision to help those most vulnerable.
Baratza designs quality innovative grinders that are easy to use, reliable, and help make great tasting coffee. Customers can feel good knowing that they have a grinder that will last them for years, and comes with incredible support from a team of people who genuinely care about them and their desire to grind fresh for better flavor.
The Baratza motto of “WE GRIND. YOU BREW” is not just a catchy tagline – it is their promise to put in the hard work, not only for Baratza’s success but for the growth and accomplishments of all the people touched, from the parts manufacturers to the resellers to the person grinding the coffee, and everyone in between.
We recognize that some of the people at the front line of engaging people in enjoying great coffee are baristas and people working in roasting and retail. They are the amazing people that spread the good word about Baratza and the need to have a burr grinder for people who want to make great coffee. They are our unsung heroes, people we don’t often know about or cannot touch individually. As a result, we are intentional at Baratza about supporting the coffee community and we know that so many of our customers have had a very challenging experience due to Covid-19. We are delighted to partner with others in our industry for the ComeTogether Café Fund and to give back to small coffee businesses to help them through this pandemic.
Apply For Cohort #2
Are you a small specialty coffee business financially impacted by COVID-19? All additional funds after our first cohort of grants will go toward Cohort #2. The ComeTogether Cafe Fund focuses on supporting small specialty coffee cafes and businesses, with 100% of the fund reserved for those who self-identify as being a member of an underrepresented or marginalized group in the coffee industry including but not limited to: BIPOC, disabled, LGBTQIA+, womxn, and racial and ethnic minorities. 50% of the fund is reserved for Black-owned/co-owned businesses. Additionally, ComeTogether.coffee seeks cafes/roasters not only owned by these groups but who also hire diversely.
Applications for Cohort #2 closes on December 8. Apply now!