5/26/2020 – Status Update: Supply Chain

Posted on April 8th, 2020

Here is a brief and current (though constantly in flux) state of coffee operations around the world. We will be updating this information continually as conditions change.

Latest Update: May 20, 2020

Imports and Arrivals

The primary countries to which we import green coffee—the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Germany—have all placed some restrictions on operations at the ports, while continuing to receive international cargo shipments. Limited personnel and necessary precautions regarding the handling of coffee will naturally cause some delays, but as of right now we’re still able to receive coffee shipped from countries of origin.


Our sales teams in the U.S., Europe, and Australia are all operating as usual, though all representatives are working from home for their safety and health. Staff is still receiving and processing orders at the usual speed. So far we have not experienced any delays with regard to the processing of orders. As always, a real human will always answer or return your phone calls.

Samples In and Out

The Cafe Imports sensory analysis department is operational and working in shifts, with a capacity of 200 coffee samples per week. Coffee samples are still being received in a timely manner—even faster than expected, in some cases—though there may be some delays in the coming weeks as FedEx and other shipping companies limit operations in certain countries and/or regions.

Incoming coffee samples are still being roasted Monday–Thursday and cupped Tuesday–Friday. Due to staffing and scheduling, cuppings (40 coffees/day) are being conducted by sensory analysis director Ian Fretheim.

At this time, cupping is limited to samples for which we already have contracts or expect to have contracts.

The only noteworthy delay with regards to samples is between our U.S. sensory analysis office and our international sales offices: We are able to ship samples from Minnesota to Melbourne and Berlin twice weekly rather than on a daily basis, so there may be a small lag in the delivery of those samples, but that should have no real bearing on operations between the offices.

Domestic Freight

Some freight companies in the United States, Australia, and throughout Europe have reduced operations and/or limited their lines of transit. For this reason, some customers may experience delays in delivery times, and/or be required to receive shipments during certain windows. We ask that you check with your freight carrier to ensure there have been no terminal closures in your area.

Processing and Exports

  • Brazil – Lockdowns vary across the country but there is a push to open the economy. The coffee sector is operational but there is concern about personnel for picking and milling as there are travel restrictions in place. So far, no delays expected, and we are remaining cautiously optimistic
  • Burundi – Limited national response so far, as official numbers of infected are reportedly low; coffee sector operating as normal but our partners are taking safety precautions, fresh-crop coffees already delivered
  • Colombia – Country has extended quarantine lockdown until May 31, and the national “health emergency” status until August 31; persons over the age of 70 must remain in confinement until June 31. Coffee sector exempt and mills and exporters functioning on limited staff. Monthlong delay in samples expected (+/-) Some Huila and Cauca lots have already arrived to our warehouse
  • Costa Rica – Restrictions began easing in May, with businesses and the international borders reopening. So far there have been no effects on coffee exports, with no delays expected so far; the first container from Oxcart shipped the week of April 27
  • DR Congo – Limited restrictions on exports and none on the coffee sector, but public sector experiencing travel restrictions and limitations which may affect FOT shipments. At present, SOPACDI washing stations are operating normally, utilizing precaution 
  • Ecuador – Country on lockdown for the public with a 2pm–5am curfew, strictly enforced; coffee still exporting but special permits required
  • El Salvador – Country on lockdown, with the public being allowed to leave home for grocery shopping twice a week; curfews and mandatory mask-wearing regulations are in place. The coffee sector is exempt from operational curfews; no delays expected so far
  • Ethiopia – Country issued a five-month national state of emergency in April, all flights except cargo have been canceled and FedEx no longer operating in-country which may delay shipment of samples; DHL continues to operate. Delays can be expected but uncertain how long or severe. Some coffees from Guji have already arrived in our warehouse
  • Guatemala – Country on complete through May 25 at least; on days when the country is not completely closed, the curfew has been relaxed, from 5pm–5am. Travel between departments is prohibited, and mask-wearing is mandatory. Exporters still operating as per legal exemption, but producers in communities around Huehuetenango are unable to travel to deliver their coffee, so delays can be expected on late-harvest lots. Some coffees already arriving to our warehouse
  • Hawaii – Stay at home order issued through May 31. All travelers entering the state are required to undergo 14-day quarantine through June. Medium-risk businesses can begin to open with some restrictions as of June 1. Coffee sector operational as normal
  • Honduras – Nationwide curfew through May 24. Citizens are allowed to leave home one day per week, based on their national ID card number. All borders closed except to cargo. Exporters functioning on a limited basis
  • India – National lockdown is slowly being eased, with domestic air travel being allowed (on a restricted basis) as of May 25
  • Indonesia – Varied restrictions by province and city; national social compliance is relatively low, and cases are rising. Government hopes to ease restrictions by July
  • Jamaica – As of May 19, the country had two consecutive days with zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported. Nightly curfew from 8pm–6am. No delays expected so far
  • Kenya – Countrywide lockdown on travel to and from cities until June 6. Nightly curfew from 7pm–5am, but so far no effect on shipping schedules, though containers are scarce overall. All flights except cargo have been canceled. Nairobi auction is operational. Some minor delays expected due to staffing shortages and transit delays but exportations are still occurring
  • Mexico – National closure of nonessential businesses and services through May 30, with enforced self-isolation of all people over 60 years old and/or individuals with high-risk conditions. Gatherings of 100 or more people are forbidden. Shelter-in-place and other economic restrictions expect to be liefted by June 1. Coffee sector considered a “fundamental economic activity” and allowed to function normally. No delays expected so far
  • Nicaragua – Limited national response so far, with schools, businesses, even sporting events still proceeding as normal; preventative measures in the coffee sector are coming from individuals and organizations rather than national government. Export slowdowns expected, both from COVID-19 as well as ongoing results of the domestic political crisis in 2018 
  • Papua New Guinea – Country in a state of emergency, with borders closed to Indonesia and other travel restrictions in place; coffee sector exempted from any national lockdown, no delays expected so far
  • Peru – Country on strict lockdown with government enforcement. Curfew from 6am–4pm daily; exports proceeding with some delays. Travel restrictions have caused concern about finding labor for the harvest, which is about to begin
  • Rwanda – Country on lockdown with borders closed except for goods and cargo. Harvest is underway and washing stations are operating normally while utilizing precaution based on government guidelines: Face masks are compulsory in public
  • Tanzania – Nationwide restrictions on gatherings and travel (with compulsory quarantine). International commercial flights have been ceased. Export activities proceeding, but shift-based staffing and extra precautions causing port delays. Concern about having enough pickers for the harvest
  • Yemen – Still harvesting, collecting coffees. Country has been in a state of civil war for several years, so delays are to be expected even under normal conditions