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As a company that sources much of its coffee at origin, we see first hand the environmental issues that impact coffee-growing communities. Roya, or “Leaf Rust” has been a problem in coffee growing regions for many years, but with climate change, the mold has mutated a bit, making it more adaptable at higher elevations where, a few years ago, the problem was manageable. In 2013, the disease took hold in Central America to an extent never seen before. The disease kills the coffee shrub’s leaves so the plant expends its energy producing more leaves instead of ripening its fruit. The effect, then, are poor quality cherries and less yield. Many farmers that we have worked with in the past, simply, have no coffee to sell this year. We are determined to help the producers we work with to overcome this hardship.
While we are planning more support in the future, for now we have partnered with Sustainable Harvest, who have produced a great, how to manual for farmers. Currently, this is the first product available to farmers that actually includes step by step directions on how one can eradicate Roya from a coffee farm. Using our Barista and brewing classes as fundraisers, we have purchased over 20 guides for our farmers. During our sourcing trips, we distribute the books to both our farming partners and exporters who work with groups of farmers. It is our hope that the more that farmers know about this issue, the more prepared they will be when, and if Roya continues to spread.