Ukraine crisis: what can coffee roasters do to help?

Aidan Gant
May 13, 2022
Ukraine crisis: what can coffee roasters do to help?

Business owners have a responsibility to stay updated on current affairs and do their bit in the face of crises.

Often, international affairs can have a domino effect on businesses around the globe, such as the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The crisis has forced millions of Ukrainians to flee their homes, and many companies pull their businesses out of Russia.

Furthermore, governments around the world imposed several sanctions on the country, which significantly disrupted trade flows. This left many coffee roasters and cafe owners wondering how this could affect their businesses, and what they could do to help millions of displaced families. 

Interestingly, studies reveal ‌consumers care about the ethical behaviour of businesses, and want to see owners provide aid during times of crisis. As a result, a number of brands and organisations across the coffee sector have offered support to the people of Ukraine.

Read on to find out how roasters can provide support for those affected by the Ukraine crisis.

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Ukrainian flag, blue and yellow, on flagpole against sky blue background.

A brief overview of the Ukraine crisis

Since Ukraine’s exit from the Soviet Union in 1991, the country has been caught between Europe and the West, and its neighbour Russia.

Essentially, Ukraine’s geographical location means it straddles both the European and Russian spheres of influence.

As Russia has long resisted Ukraine’s move towards the European Union, tensions between the two countries have always been high.

In 2014, Ukraine’s pro-Russian administration was overthrown in favour of a more Euro-centric model. Ongoing political tension caused the conflict to expand significantly at the start of 2022.

On February 24th, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered military forces to cross the Russian-Ukrainian border in a “special military operation”.

This operation resulted in the displacement of millions of Ukrainian citizens. According to the United Nations (UN), over 11 million people are now seeking asylum in other European countries.

Due to the sheer number of people affected, there has been an overwhelming response from sympathetic individuals and businesses around the world. Across the coffee sector, several brands and organisations have established fundraisers and projects to help people in Ukraine.

As a roaster, there are many ways you can leverage your brand and resources to help.

Bleached white krafr paper coffee pouch featuring Colombia La Riviera limited edition coffee blend.

Dedicating a limited edition blend

Donating the profits from a dedicated limited edition blend can show customers they are helping make a difference through their buying decisions.

Several roasters have offered a share of proceeds from popular blends to causes supporting Ukrainian refugees. 

For instance, Figment Coffee created a new sweet blend called Birds of Peace, and is donating all the money from sales to the Disasters Emergency Committee. 

Michigan-based roaster Forte Coffee developed their own Ukraine Hope blend. For every bag sold, $10 is donated to World Central Kitchen – an organisation that is currently providing food to Ukrainian refugees and civilians.

A number of charities are dedicated to supporting refugees in crisis. Large international charities such as Red Cross, UNICEF, and Action for Humanity are currently running Ukrainian aid appeals. 

Smaller charities are also calling for aid: Sunflower for Peace is committed to providing medics in the country with first aid supplies, while Choose Love is a fundraising organisation that supports displaced people globally. 

In terms of financial aid, the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) is playing its part. Among other things, it has committed to donating 100% of the ticket revenue from the World of Coffee Warsaw event. 

French press, Aeropress, chemex, and V6o brewing tools on counter with coffee cupping samples in foreground.

Organise a fundraising event & other ways to help

Another way roasters and cafe owners could help is by organising, sponsoring, or hosting a fundraising event. 

A coffee tasting event may not only introduce customers to the art of cupping, but provide an innovative fundraising event to support Ukrainian refugees. 

Additionally, roasters could donate any proceeds from sales or events to a charity that books Airbnb rooms for those fleeing the conflict

More so, roasters and cafe owners can use their establishments as drop-off points for physical donations that include toiletries, clothes, and medicines. 

Alternatively, they could adapt their business locations into learning environments for refugees. This refers to a safe place where they can receive tuition and practise language skills – an essential, yet overlooked, aspect of successful assimilation. 

This is an effective way to provide ongoing support for refugees and migrants. Furthermore, roasters can collaborate with organisations who are implementing the same schemes, such as Refugee Action

For roasters who are based in the UK, a truly incredible way to help is to provide a refugee with an offer of employment, as this will assist them greatly with visa applications. The current UK administration, unlike other EU states, requires refugees to hold a visa prior to entry. 

These can be difficult to get, but roasters could help by offering a qualified coffee professional a managerial position, allowing them to obtain a skilled worker visa.

Black and gold Onyx Coffe Lab coffee pouch beside glass mason jar filled with dark roasted coffee beans.

Anything roasters and coffee shop owners can do will help to raise awareness of the conflict and, in turn, generate funds to support the people of Ukraine. 

For example, simply printing details of charitable organisations on coffee packaging could go a long way in helping awareness and encourage others to provide support. 

At MTPak Coffee, we are dedicated to helping specialty coffee roasters and cafe owners in their business endeavours, including providing support for the people of Ukraine. 

We offer a range of customisable low minimum order quantity (MOQ) as low as 500 units on both recyclable and traditional coffee bags – the perfect option for limited edition blends. 

Additionally, we can provide roasters with a range of recyclable packaging features and sustainable coffee bags. When made with kraft of rice paper, we can provide packaging options that are completely recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable.

Furthermore, our team can use sustainable water-based inks to add the details of charitable organisation to your coffee bags. These inks are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and are highly resistant to abrasion, water, and heat. They are also compostable and easy to remove for recycling.

These inks can be used on both the inside and outside of our coffee bags to maximise brand space and improve mindshare for your business.

For more information on limited edition blends, contact our team

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