What we always thought could happen, but we didn’t wanted to realize it, happened this past Sunday, September 18, 2022. Five years after Hurricane María, the phenomenon that wiped off the map the Puerto Rico coffee industry, we got hit by another one that has, put at stake what we hoped would be the full recovery of the Coffee Industry in Puerto Rico. This time, not category 4, but devastating enough to affect the entire island, especially the southeast of Puerto Rico, where a large part of the island's coffee production is concentrated.
Reaching harvest season has been extremely stressful in these last five years. Just so you have an idea, the harvest season in Puerto Rico falls at the same time as the hurricane season. To a certain extent this sounds paradoxical, but that is the will of Mother Nature. This type of dynamic does not usually happen in other coffee producing countries. All the other countries have their seasons well marked and there is little chance that a cyclone will come and wipe their coffee off the map. To give an example, in Central America at harvest time it hardly rains, which also helps to have better temperatures when processing the coffee, but this is a topic for another day.
Ripe cherries on the ground in Finca La Carmen in Jayuya
I don't want this article to sound sad, but there is no way not to feel helpless with the reality that we have lived as a country since 2017. But it’s a reality and we have to embrace it as Puerto Ricans a continue to move forward the coffee industry in Puerto Rico. I've been in constant communication with our producers since before Fiona. I have perceived a lot of uncertainty, but at the same time optimism. Without a doubt we are a country with a lot of courage and its on this moments were we have to come together and support each other. Having conversations with our coffee growers I could feel in someway calm and peace.
The coffee farmer is a person of faith, he will always get up no matter what natural disaster comes – Jean Giuliani, Café Nativo de Jayuya
We cannot do anything with nature, just resign ourselves and start over – Luis Roig, Café Don Luis de Yauco
We are on our feet and we are going to continue, there is no other way – Natalia Vélez, Perla Negra de Adjuntas
Whatever it is, we'll get up tomorrow – Remy Rodríguez, Café Sotavento de Guayanilla
We will start from scratch, little by little we will rise – Gustavo Arroyo, Hacienda Rancho Contento de Yauco
As you know, I am a servant of Christ and I accept the will of my God and not mine – Jimmy González, Café Papamin de San Sebastián
You can loose everything but without a doubt we will rise up to create a future – Juan Bibiloni, Café Idilio de Jayuya
Concerned and optimistic at the same time – Ángela Masini, Café Hacienda Masini de Yauco
Thank you, we're fine thank God. The farm is in good shape. We loss coffee but not bad – Alberto Méndez, Aromas del Campo de Utuado
Thanks for the message, few know the real damage this does to agriculture – Alfonso Pérez, Café Terrafé and Alquimia de Juana Díaz.
The situation on the farm right now is somewhat chaotic, but there is health and encouragement – Manuel Dox, Hacienda Mireia de Yauco
Thanks for the good wishes. Despite the damage to the farm we are fine, now its time to work harder. – Artemio Valentín, Finca La Casona de Las Marías
I’m very proud to know that in Cuela we collaborate with special farmers and special human beings that are full of pride and resiliency. The sense of survival is 100% and this is something that causes optimism for the entire coffee industry. If you are wondering how you can help a coffee grower or farmer in Puerto Rico, there are several ways, such as going to help them raise damaged trees or pick coffee, but the most immediate one is to buy his crop or product. In most of the farms, more than 50% of the crops are being lost due to the impact of Hurricane Fiona. A farmer needs to have immediate income in order to mitigate losses as quickly as possible. We are at the pick of harvest season and it was expected to have the best harvest after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, but Mother Nature had other plans.
Local consumption is extremely important and not only at this time, it should always be. In Puerto Rico, 85% of the food consumed is imported, thus causing food insecurity. We need to push that bar to the other side. It is the way in which we will be nurturing better and we will also begin to generate a sustainable local economy for our agricultures.
As for our commitment, now more than ever it is stronger. We will continue to expose the stories and products of our coffee growers. When things get tough, it's when we prove ourselves as Puerto Ricans and we're not going to loose this fight.
Thank your empathy in this process of recovery of our coffee plantations. If you want to help collect coffee trees and cherries, do not hesitate to contact us at 787-649-6866 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to support a local coffee grower buying his product access https://cuela.coffee. The Puerto Rican Coffee Industry is a lifestyle and we will always carry it in our hearts. Thanks for the support and remember #CuelaUnCaféConLosTuyos