The concept of risk is probably not the first thought you have in my mind when you sip that morning cup of coffee. However, for many in coffee, particularly at the farm or transport level, it is something that needs to be thought through daily. Risk, like most things can be minimized or mitigated through experience, thorough procedures and good planning, but it’s never eliminated completely.

This was brought into stark relief for us as one-night last month, our Ecuadorian friends, Henry and Verena Gaibor of Hakuna Matata and Racho Tio Emilio farms, were broken into. Distressingly, they were tied up and their lives threatened by the thieves who then proceeded to rob them of not only their household belongings, but 220 sacks of their export ready coffee. Luckily, the thieves crashed one of the getaway trucks with the coffee and they were able to recover 150 bags, but this is obviously still a travesty. For a farmer, one’s crop is their prime source of income which generally happens only once a year. To not recoup a return on this major investment can be devastating for both farm and farmer, and has the potential to compound over years. As you might imagine, this concerning news has turned our thoughts to the Gaibors welfare and our opportunity to help our friends recover.

Starting on the 17th of October, we’ll be running a 2-week fundraising campaign asking any café keen to help out Henry and Verena, to replace their tip jar with a donation jar for the duration. We’ll put together some in-café posters and postcards to help people understand the challenge the Gaibors are facing and, towards the end of the month, we’ll be hosting our monthly Curated Cupping – this time with a focus on the risks experienced in the coffee supply chain. This cupping, ‘Coffee: A Risky Business’ will see us delve into the various, sometimes hidden, risks – especially at the producer end of the coffee journey. We hope that this information will not only provide a great opportunity for palate development for attendees but also grow everyone’s understanding about what it takes to produce the coffee we all love. As always our cupping will be free to attend but we’ll be encouraging donations on the night to help with the cause.

To facilitate this fundraising campaign, we’ve set up a project on Chuffed which will allow Australian donors to give with some of the lowest fees out there. To kick things off, Five Senses will be making a $1000 donation with an aim to raise at least $5000 total to help get Henry and Verena back on their feet. It’s open for donations, so head over to any time you want to drop your contribution in. For cafes taking donations, you can either make smaller more regular deposits in or wait until the end of October to do a single larger donation.

The fundraising campaign will close for donations on Thursday 3rd and Five Senses will make a single donation directly to Henry and Verena.

Piero Cristiani and the great crew over at Café Imports have set up a sister fundraiser – if you happen to be based in the US, this is your best option for support (donations are in USD and takes a slightly higher % of funds).

We see this campaign as an appreciation of the hard work and risk of coffee farming, not just by the Gaibors, but by producers worldwide. This is a unique opportunity to help carry some of the liability of managing risk and soften the loss for the Gaibors. Thanks in advance for helping out!

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