Covid-19 is making coffee growing unprofitable for Adan Rojas. Like thousands of small Colombian farmers, the pandemic forced him to use out-of-work locals to harvest his beans as travel restrictions kept out experienced seasonal pickers.
Rookies are fine for standard coffee. But his 17-acre spread in the foothills of the Andes relies on specialty markets for much of its earnings, and beans used in $4 lattes in New York have a much smaller harvesting window. Without access to professionals who can pick five times faster, the cherries that encase the beans over-ripened and fell off the trees.