Advice from the National Coffee Association on whether buying coffee now is safe—and how to support local coffee shops and cafes
Recently, the National Coffee Association issued a statement answering questions that people have about whether coffee is affected by the coronavirus and whether the packaging represents a potential threat. Most of the content on the NCA website is intended for roasters, manufacturers, and retailers, but NCA also has a consumer section.
The most frequently asked question from consumers is: “Is it safe to buy coffee right now?” The answer from NCA:
“Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. In general, because of poor survivability of the coronavirus on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of it spreading from packaging or from food products that are shipped over a period of days or weeks in ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.”
In fact, according to experts, the virus is detectable for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 2 to 3 days in plastic and stainless steel.
Like many people, I have been buying many products online, including coffee. Though the NCA has advised us that the supply chain for coffee is safe, there is still the issue of handling the cardboard box. My strategy is to bring it in, wash my hands thoroughly, and then let it sit for 24 to 48 hours. When I actually take out the contents---like this can of McDonald’s brand coffee---I then wipe down the can itself, before then washing my hands again.
Though I am happy to be able to get coffee delivered and brew it at home, I miss sitting in cafes. I miss talking to the baristas. I miss being surrounded by the smell of coffee and the voices of people, who are also enjoying the café experience. Certainly we look forward to experiencing that again, hopefully not in the way-too-distant future.
However, though it feels like an inconvenience to me, it is an issue of survival for people who run and work in cafes. These places are an integral part of our communities, and even if they are doing curbside business, the financial impact is significant---as it is for all restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.
The NCA has provided a link to a virtual tip jar for people who work at cafes. It is a long list and covers the entire United States. My local coffee shop, Java Love Montclair, is represented in this list.
Please take a look and leave a tip at your favorite coffee shop. Let’s support our local businesses and imagine the day when we will once again drink coffee in the company of others.