Coffee in the Time of COVID


Coffee in the Time of COVID

A lot has changed in the past 12 months, this much we already know. Lockdowns and physical distancing altered the way we interacted with each other. Face masks became not only a lifechanging safety measure for many but also the latest fashion statement. With this in mind, it's time to reflect on how the pandemic affected the world of coffee.

Firstly, we've noticed that people still really love coffee. For us at Timely, this great news. Not only does it mean we get to continue to share our favourite coffees with as many people as possible, but as a small business, it means that we get to continue doing what we love. We'd be lying if said that, at the beginning of all this almost 12 months ago, we weren't a little worried. But, while our business was changed forever thanks to the lockdowns, we can happily say we're better than ever for it.

All of this is not to say there weren't some noticeable changes in people's coffee-drinking habits. For instance, while we generally roasted the same amount of coffee each week, we were delivering more coffee to people's homes than ever before. As always, we had dedicated focus on our wholesale partners (those cafes and restaurants we supply coffee to for them to serve). But we also decided to have an equal focus on those drinking coffee at home. We rethought our website, marketing, positioning, and product, to reflect our core values to those getting their coffees directly from us and brewing at home. And we're so glad we did. This renewed focus has given us an unprecedented connection to home coffee drinkers, and we're so excited to see this side of Timely grow.

From an operational perspective, there have been many more changes from the pandemic. For starters, many predict that coffee would get a whole lot more expensive. This expected price increase was reportedly due to coffee picking and processing at origin. In particular, producers were unable to find trained coffee pickers. As coffee pickers generally move from one area to the next to find work, this was made impossible, or extremely difficult in many places. Scarcities of these transient seasonal workers forebode inflated coffee prices. In reality, this didn't come to pass to such a degree as expected. Given the overall reduced consumption in other parts of the world, the global market seemed to level itself out, and prices remained relatively stable.

However, the next step along the chain, in shipping and logistics, has been more difficult than ever. Fewer available workers, and higher demand for freight worldwide, has meant that coffee shipments from origin to the roastery are slower than ever. On one level, this does concern us at Timely, as we understand that freshness of crop is paramount to coffee deliciousness. However, we also understand that shipping coffee on time for many emerging countries is probably the last thing on a lot of people's minds at the moment.

All this is to say that at Timely, we have been lucky. We have been challenged, but not in the same way as many others. We have all been safe and healthy. Our team has stayed together (in fact our team has grown over the past 12 months). We remained open, and we thrived. We're lucky to live in the city we do - a privilege that has given us the ability to see the hardships as well as the opportunities of adversity. This positive outlook, of course, may not be possible for those people being affected by the pandemic in more critical ways, but for this, we are grateful.

Coffee is an ever-changing industry, affected by external forces just like any other. At Timely, we're cautiously optimistic for the future. While we would never say we're glad we were challenged, we could never say we're not happy with where we are right now.

Until next time,

Seb Prosser
Timely Coffees

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