With war currently raging in Ukraine, people are wondering what they can do to help. An obvious way is to donate to the many charities offering direct support and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and to Ukrainian refuges. However, I wanted to look at some additional ways of helping, specifically those that involve coffee.
One option is to buy your coffee from a UK roaster offering to make donations linked to each sale, perhaps the most (in)famous of which is Dark Arts Coffee’s Russian Warship Go Fuck Yourself, a naturally-processed El Salvadorian coffee. For each box sold, Dark Arts will make a £2 donation to help support the victims and refugees displaced by the war in Ukraine. In a similar vein, Dear Green Coffee will donate £1 for every sale of its Goosedubbs blend, the money going to a variety of Ukrainian aid charities.
Another option is to offer direct support to Ukraine’s own speciality coffee industry. It’s something I’ve been considering for a while, partly inspired by an article in Sprudge, looking at how the war has impacted coffee businesses throughout Ukraine, as well as by stories about booking Airbnbs as a way of getting money directly to people in Ukraine.
You can find out what I’ve been doing and how you can help after the gallery.
Like many good ideas, this came together via two separate strands. The first was the story of people booking (and paying for) Airbnbs in Ukraine, but with no intention of visiting. The idea is that the money goes directly to the owners, a way of getting cash straight into the hands of people who need it. A short while later, I read the Sprudge article, written by Ukrainian coffee journalist Yaroslav Druziuk, who describes the impact of the war on Ukraine’s coffee industry and discusses how it’s rising to the challenges of the conflict.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the stories coming out of Ukraine right now, with so many people being killed or fleeing their homes. However, it’s important to remember that for millions of Ukrainians, life carries on. And that includes the coffee companies highlighted in the Sprudge article, who are still roasting and serving coffee across the country.
Inspired by the Airbnb example, I wondered if I could do anything to help these coffee roasters. One of those named in the article, Yellow Place, has a link on its Instagram page to a site offering multiple ways of supporting Ukraine. It’s a good place to start if you are looking for Ukrainian charities to donate to, while it also has a page listing various small businesses that you can support (including Yellow Place’s parent company, Goodwine) by ordering online.
I went down this route, checking out the various roasters in the Sprudge article with online shops, including Mad Heads in Kyiv and Funt Kavy in Dnipro. Another good resource is European Coffee Trip, which has a page dedicated to cafés and roasters in Ukraine. This enabled me to find the likes of Chehovych in Lviv and Odessa’s Foundation Coffee Roasters.
Each weekend, I’ve been picking a roaster and ordering a bunch of coffee online. Since there’s only so much coffee I can drink (and I don’t want to burden the roasters with the cost of shipping, nor clog up Ukraine’s postal service with bags of coffee) I put a note in with each order asking them to keep the coffee and offer it to those who need it more than me (which, let’s be honest, is anyone still in Ukraine). Just to be on the safe side, I either use the roaster’s own address as the delivery address or, if it’s available, I select the “pick up in store” option.
My long-term plan, when the war is over, is to visit Ukraine and actually have coffee in person at all these places, but until then, I intend to keep ordering coffee every weekend, knowing that the money will go directly to the roasters.
Stay strong, Ukraine.
Having made another order since I wrote this post, I wanted to acknowledge that it can sometimes be frustrating navigating through Ukrainian checkout pages when you can’t read Ukrainian, but please stick with it. I’ve now changed my browser settings to always translate Ukrainian into English, which helps, but when entering Ukrainian addresses, I’ve found that putting them in Cyrillic helps immensely (I copy them from Google Maps).
I pay by credit card or Google Pay and have found that all the roasters I’ve ordered from offer a payment gateway that takes these options, but sometimes you have to choose (for example, with Chehovych, you have to select LiqPay as the payment method). Similarly, the Foundation Coffee Roasters site says that online payment is disabled, but if you select the “Credit card (Visa, Mastercard) via WayForPay” option at the bottom of the checkout page, this will take you to the WayForPay gateway.
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