Four Ways to Increase Safety During CoronaVirus While Still Supporting Coffee Shops We Love.

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Our lifestyles are important. A lifestyle is how we live. It reveals our choices, preferences and habits. Lifestyles also support the livelihood of America, made up by many small businesses that make it their aim to welcome us into their world of food, entertainment and culture.

In the wake of the Cornoavirus Disease (COVID-19), a pandemic now affecting the world, our lifestyles are being upended as well as the those that make up the fabric of America, the country from which this zine publishes.

People are dying. Industries are being crippled. The sectors of travel, hospitality, sports and public education are facing unprecedented interruption. One can barely find Purrell and toilet paper while Kleenex and fresh fruits can still be found in mass at grocery stores and local markets.

In the context of The Coffeetographer, the lifestyle of many of our readers includes their patronage of coffee shops independently owned, and ran by Gen X and Milennials across America and the world. By extension, this includes kindred activities that go along with the culture of finding solace in specialty coffee shops, like visiting record stores, bookstores, wine shops, food halls and other mini culinary establishments.

Because I too am a participant and patronage of these small businesses that find their livelihood in my support of them, I wanted to write about how we can be cautious while still supporting the places that we love, the places that we want to be around when the Coronavirus hopefully no longer is.

Specialty coffee shops are already an underdog. They are paying higher wages for staff than ever before. They often carry the responsibility of juggling multiple roles of owner/manager/barista at times. Additionally, their cash flow can become severely limited in the winter months post holiday spending and pre-spring renewal and summer time perks.

So how can we be safe and still support our local and specialty coffee shops and businesses?

Taking a cue from many businesses who are posting their updated cleanliness policies in the wake of the Coronavirus, I’ve compiled a few ways we can support our smaller sized cultural institutions with the dollars we deem still disposable for the lifestyle that we still want to appreciate.

1. Buy coffee online. What better way to continue supporting coffee shops you love than buying coffee from them online should you choose not to visit them locally. If you enjoy exploring even in drinking choices, what better time than now to explore coffee shop brands not as near to home than by engaging with their online shop presence.

With so many roasters in America, roasting incredible coffee, this pandemic allows you to explore their offerings without the worry of droplets containing COVID-19 getting your hands germs and infected. You can order from the keyboard of your home computer or cell phone keypad.

2. Walk to a local shop versus calling taking public transportation. Is there a local coffee shop near where you live, perhaps within a mile of your residence? How about walking there versus taking public transportation or a heavily used Uber vehicle? Limiting the amount of people you come in public contact with is a good way to minimize the risk of infection. Additionally, one way to fight off germs is regular exercise.  I know having a coffee first thing in the morning by immediate and quick access might be part of your lifestyle and so a mile walk or less might seem inconceivable. But,  in these uncertain times, editing that access might become necessary to still help support small businesses while also providing a bit of pleasure for ourselves.

If you’re game for this,  map out a nice active walk to a coffee shop within the distance of your home or your place of work, where you can have a coffee in a to-go cup. This supports the brick and mortar businesses, allows you to still have meaningful social engagement and fosters an exercise routine.  Walking also positively impacts the mind and spirit, especially if you are limited in social movements because you are participating in some form of self-isolation, self-quarantine and social distancing.

3. Leave your ceramics and tumblers home. While you might have gotten used to the discount you receive by loving the environment a little more and saving 25-50 cents on your coffee order by bringing your own drinking ware in, single use cups are in and safer than ever right now.

Due to the nature of how the Coronavirus can spread, many coffee shops are implementing policies of to-go cups with choices for lids and condiments of sugar and milk being aided by baristas behind the bar. While this might be an inconvenience, consider it a necessary one for the safety of ourselves and our community which has to take sanitation into their immediate and daily hands to combat the spread of this virus.

For coffee lovers like me, who can taste the aesthetic differences of a coffee in a ceramic versus a paper cup, this switch is a small sacrifice. There are many times where I’ve ordered a coffee to-go or have consumed it in a small paper cup and the drink was more than just delightful. I just don’t let my drink linger or nurse it for as long, because I can taste the effects of the hot liquid interacting with my paper cup and impacting perceived flavor.  Its kind of like ordering fresh cut french fries and they get smothered by a closed bag for a few minutes until you arrive home. Or, having a fresh pizza sitting in a box on its way to being delivered to you and by the time it arrived its just a little deflated in its savory appeal. Feel me?!

4. Use contactless payment options. Cash we love you, and we know that you spend just like a card. However cash,  you’re not welcome here currently, because of how many germs cash can carry. Note this from the Federal Reserve, “the lifespan of various bills ranges four to 15 years, meaning your bills have a lot of time to accumulate germs.” Imagine the amount of hands that have touched just one bill, let alone all the bills you could potentially be handling during this time.

If you’re older, or have refrained from the use of too much technology this might be the time to ask a loved one or a friend to help you set up a form of contactless payment with one of your bank cards. You can designate one card among the ones that you use to be your primary card for online and tap purchases, thus minimizing the fear and risk of someone accessing it in case you lose it. I haven’t been a big proponet of Apple Pay or face recognition software to make in-person purchases. However, in these times pandemic times,  I’m jumping on the Apple Pay bandwagon out of respect for others who have to make the transactions with me when I’m in public places and for my own social sanity – because I will still be enjoying the ritual of having a coffee at a coffee shop, selectively, with updated precautions.

However, you choose to consciously protect yourself during these unprecedented times, it is my  hope that you remain well, physically, socially and mentally.

Chérmelle, The Coffeetographer