Reflections on 2020?
“It was tough, but we’re OK!”
2020 was a difficult year emotionally, mentally and financially. Within the space of a few days in March, due to Covid-19 and the National Lockdown, we lost around 90% of our customers. Our immediate hopes, thoughts and prayers at the time was to keep everyone’s jobs (which thankfully we’ve managed to do) and to look after the farmers overseas. We have kept providing high quality service to our customers, honoured agreements to buy crops overseas and set ourselves up to go again this year.
We spent time and energy on our new website, which we launched in June. It looks great, functions well and has allowed us to add additional products for customers, such as coffee subscriptions. Later in the year we launched the “a taste of” series. This has had fantastic reactions from our customers (old and new) and provided another way to introduce people to our coffee, with the option to give as a gift to a friend.
During the various lock-downs, we had time to reflect on our business and see what changes we wanted to make such as adjustments to packaging and processes.
The time to reflect has made us incredibly thankful for what we have got and has reminded us of the difference Ethical Addictions as a business makes to those it works with.
Supporting our Community
Our heart as a business has always been to help others where we can. One thing a quieter year gave us was time here as staff to help others in need and to volunteer in our local communities. Locally in Gloucestershire, we got involved in food projects, where we helped set up food kitchens and delivered meals to vulnerable families and isolating individuals. It was good to be connected to our local community and be able to make a difference.
How have the farmers been impacted by Covid-19?
A lot of our farmers certainly in the early part of 2020 were unaffected on a personal level as they live in incredibly remote locations.
As of now, Covid-19 has reached most of the rural parts, but in relatively small numbers. They seem to be pretty active in isolating the infected, helping to limit its spread. Machado, a small town in central Brazil has had very few cases. The villages in Jacutinga and Mweka at last contact had no cases so far.
So now in 2021 it’s about how we can honour the contracts and the crops that they are harvesting and assuring them that we are sticking with them for the long term.
Planning for 2021
(as best you can in a global pandemic!)
One of the things we have really missed this year was visiting all the farms we work with and catching up with the farmers we’ve known for years. We’re itching to get back on a plane and go and visit, particularly the most rural, small villages who we don’t have email and phone contact with. We want to reassure them that we will continue to work with and support them.
We’ve been doing this for 14 years now. We have long standing relationships and they know we will be around. We have had crises before and supported them through. They know we are in it for the long term but I want to be able to reassure them face to face. That kind of connection is really important to me.
We still want to get out to Cameroon but have been struggling for years because of the civil war there. We are also looking at sourcing new coffee from around the world – after guesting a great Colombian coffee we want to develop a full direct trade relationship there.
Last year our plans to move were put on hold. If all goes well our big hope is that this year we can get the roastery to a new building. We want to expand, put a training kitchen in, have a bigger roastery and production and make things easier for visitors.
Prices remaining the same
You will be glad to know that we will not be increasing our coffee prices which have stayed the same since 2017. We have decided to absorb any additional costs to ensure we are all healthier for the long term. We are honouring the relationships with our farmers and paying them the full premium rate for their coffee.
Unfortunately we cannot make any promises on other products like tea and hot chocolate because it depends on our suppliers.
We want to look at new projects. Even though we have been hit financially this year, we still believe in giving out of what we have got and not just waiting until we can afford to be generous.
The other really exciting thing about 2021 is that we have some guest coffees arriving through contacts in the coffee industry. We know of some situations where people are struggling so we will be buying a few bags to help out. We have some coming very soon from Rwanda.
We’ve got our raised bed project coming out of Jacutinga, Brazil which we are really excited about. It’s high grade Arabica coffee with hints of mango which will be very special.
If I was to sum up this article it would be to say that you never know what is going to happen in life but my mental health is always better when I try to find the positive in it and learn to be grateful for what I do have.
There is a lot I am grateful for, lots to look forward to and lots of exciting things happening in 2021.