Starbucks in Indonesia brings coffee to nurses and front-line workers

Editor’s note: On May 12, International Nurses Day, Starbucks honors nurses and other front-line workers around the world.

As the number of COVID-19 cases began to spike earlier this spring, Indonesia acted quickly to help quell the spread, restricting access to communities with outbreaks  so that no one would be exposed by coming in or exposing others by leaving. Nurses, doctors and other first responders were not allowed to go home and were quarantined with their patients to help care for them.

They worked long hours, through their own exhaustion and risking their own health, to care for patients  in the midst of a pandemic the world still had much to learn about. Evelyn Faustina Riadi, assistant manager of public relations, communications & corporate social responsibility for PT Sari Coffee Indonesia (Starbucks Indonesia), called those areas “the battlefield.”

Evelyn and her team, along with Starbucks colleagues across Indonesia, were committed to finding ways to support and serve those on the front line.

“A thousand words of gratitude will not suffice in expressing our appreciation to nurses, doctors and first-line responders,” said Andrea Siahaan, senior general manager of public relations, communications & corporate social responsibility, one of the key organizers of the local response. “All of our partners wanted to do something to show our support.”

Andrea began to brainstorm with his small team on how to help. A free cup of fresh coffee was a small gesture, but he knew it could offer a small relief to those on the front lines, and along with it, represents the encouragement of Starbucks partners across Indonesia.

Andrea and his team set out to coordinate a market-wide response, organizing and executing deliveries in the greater Jakarta area, which has the most patients, and distilling their expertise into how-to guides and toolkits for stores across Indonesia to use for their local responders.

“I wanted to make sure that everyone could  participate and see the smiles of the nurses and frontline staff who received these drops,” he said. “I hope that partners, as well as our customers, can be inspired to even do the simplest act during difficult times like this.”

He drew on the lessons learned just a few months earlier in January when heavy rains battered Jakarta, Indonesia, and caused massive floods. More than 30 local Starbucks stores and 200 partners (employees) were in the danger zones, their homes and livelihoods at risk. Immediately, partners at the Starbucks Support Center Jakarta mobilized with district managers and store partners to help victims of the floods, organizing food and beverage donations, and volunteering to clean flooded schools and houses. Starbucks Indonesia activated its local CUP Fund (Caring Unites Partners) and deployed more than $20,000 in grants to help partners and their families recover from the flooding.

Now, partners were ready again to answer the call to serve. The logistics were carefully organized so that the partners health and well-being wouldn’t be at risk delivering coffee.

Starting in Batam, partners began delivering batches of fresh coffees to hospitals, followed closely by Jakarta, Palembang, Cirebon, Bali and 20 more cities across Indonesia. In total, the partners delivered more than 40,000 cups of coffee and food combined to first-line responders in a matter of weeks. Each cup had a personalized message written on it by a partner.

“Partners know that the responders are smiling when they read the messages on our cup,” said Andrea. “If we can offer even one bright moment in their busy day, all of this is worth it.”

It makes a difference, said Dr. Mohammad Syafak Hanung, president director at Fatmawati Central General Hospital, one of the hospitals in Jakarta designated to care for COVID-19 patients.

“Your support has showed us that we are not alone in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

While many stores in Indonesia remain temporarily closed, partners have embraced coffee donations as a way to stay connected to their communities and to one another. While a small number of partners are involved in delivering the coffee due to safety, those working behind the scenes preparing the coffee for delivery and writing the messages are essential too, the team said.

“We were so proud to be involved in these donations,” said Evelyn. “Although we were worried at first to regularly visit the ‘battlefield’ everyday, we were then able to overcome our fear thanks to the support of our fellow partners.”

Kiki Mochamad Rizki, division manager, public relations, communications & corporate social responsibility said that being able to give back felt good for the partners. “Seeing the positive feedback from the community lifted our spirits to share more kindness with others and to uplift their day.”

Anthony Cottan, chief executive officer of Starbucks Indonesia, at PT Sari Coffee Indonesia, said he’s proud of the ways partners are finding to deliver cups of kindness and care.

“Andrea and his team played a key role in enabling our store partners to make coffee drops to emergency services with confidence and care,” he said. “We are so proud of all of our partners inspiring kindness and resilience across Indonesia.

-- Kate Tanquary