Monday, March 9, 2020.
We've just had the best two week stretch we have ever had. The shops have not only been doing well but wholesale has too. Believe it or not, for the first time ever, we just went through 600lbs of coffee in a week. Wow. How far we have come.
Wednesday, March 11.
For the first time in a very long time, a real uneasiness comes over me as the CoronaVirus makes its first large splash in the US - the NBA had just announced a player had tested positive for the virus. While I knew the virus was in The States, it never hit home. It seemed so far away. But, far away - no more.
I restlessly lay in bed that night, thinking. Thinking about what is to come. By the end of my thoughts, I know what to expect. But, just as I figure it out, the alarm goes off. It's a new day.
Thursday, March 12.
First thing in the morning, we work on our initial COVID-19 plan, detailing the operations that the shop managers and baristas are to follow. While we are always following our Serve Safe and Department of Public Health guidelines, we go a step further. We put out sanitizer for all customers, wipe the tables with greater frequency, wear gloves through every stop of the internal supply chain, and most importantly, encourage our teammates to be thoughtful and considerate about the situation.
Friday, March 13.
We haven't seen the Corona Virus significantly impact business yet. However, I know it is just a matter of time. More and more news is coming out - there are more infected - and more countries are taking rightfully drastic measures.
While I know we can find a way to survive as a business, I worry. I worry about the men and women who we have the opportunity to call teammates. What happens if schools are shut down? What happens if we are forced to shut down?
At noon on Friday, we send out our Employee Response plan, detailing the different plans we have for the subgroups within our team - the parents, the students. The goal is to create sustainable solutions so that when the virus impacts us, we are prepared. So, we do.
Over the next 5 days, the virus spreads - schools shut down - business slows. In the name of sustainability, we are forced to act. Cash flow projections don't look promising for us at the current rate. We must act quickly and more drastically than what the original response plan entailed. However, sustainability isn't a one way street. We need to make a decision that not only takes care of Z Beans, but one that takes care of all of our teammates - the ones that keep us pushing forward.
As a team, we make the difficult but necessary decision. Our teammates won't be working in the shops anymore, rather Ben, Carter, and I will split up amongst the three Macon shops and keep them going. As an ode to all of our teammates, we enact a revenue sharing plan, allowing those who have given so much to Z Beans to gain at least a little something out of this time.
Saturday, March 21.
It begins where it started. Ben, Carter, and me.
It's now April 4. I sit inside the Coliseum Hospital, as I have for the last 14 days. It's slow. Coliseum has furloughed a great number of their staff because elective surgeries have been postponed. I'm sure the hospital is struggling to make ends meet, yet it's set for a major influx of individuals as the virus moves inland.
Am I worried about myself sitting in the hospital for 13 hours a day? No. Honestly, I never have. Perhaps if I did, I wouldn't have traveled to Ecuador alone for the first time in the summer of 2017, holding cash in my backpack that I needed to use to buy coffee. The sustainability of Z Beans, in my eyes, has never been about me. It's about building a clock - a system - for the hard working farmers of Ecuador that can hopefully tell time for generations to come. Whatever it takes to do exactly that - is what I will do.
But, this dilemma that we are currently facing has shown me that this is not only what I will do - but, it's what Carter and Ben will do as well. We have always been a close trio - I have always had their backs, and I know they have always had mine.
When I came to them - two and a half weeks ago - I told them that this is what I think we need to do for our teammates, for our farmers, for safety. We were going to be the ones logging all the hours in the shops - not making anything from it - and giving a portion of all revenue back to our teammates. They both had the same response, "Whatever it takes."
We've overcome some major obstacles with Z Beans over the past four years, but none have impacted me more than this one. I never could have imagined telling every teammate we have that they would no longer have a job tomorrow. I never could have imagined our Mercer Village store only serving 20 customers per day. I never could have imagined any of this. But, one thing is forsure - I couldn't do this without my brothers by my side.
Calm is contagious.