Coffee Rust Causing Concern in Specialty Coffee Industry

rust-photoA coffee rust fungus is generating a lot of discussion in the coffee world. Coffee trees from Mexico to Panama have been attacked by this orange, rust-looking fungus, Hemileia Vastatrix. In April 2013, The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) discussed and explored this issue at their annual Symposium. There was also an International Coffee Rust Summit that month to do the same. The future of specialty coffee could be at a major risk.

Roya, the Spanish word for the fungus, grows on the underside of the leaf on the coffee tree.  The fungus will continue to spread throughout the leaves, preventing the tree from receiving nutrients.  Without the nutrition from the leaves, the cherries that contain the “coffee bean” will not fully mature, and when brewed as coffee, it will lack much of its typical flavor.  The outbreak was fueled by excessive amounts of rain in Colombia in 2008, which spread the disease throughout the country and into more Central American countries. While Colombia is on the mend with the help of various preventive measures, countries such as Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras are suffering. When the rust attacks half of a tree’s leaves, the farmer is forced to cut the tree down, leaving it unusable for 3 years and the farm in economic turmoil.

To combat the Roya, farmers are using excessive fungicides and planting rust-resistant, genetically altered plants. This puts a heavy strain on organic coffees, leaving many specialists to doubt organic coffees’ survival.  The focus of the meetings in April were solving this issue, and the UN is even looking to hire a “Leaf Rust Response Coordinator” who will lead the fight against this damaging fungus.

Being the second most valuable trade commodity in the world, coffee’s survival for economic stability is very important.  Some farms have seen as much as 70 percent of their crops affected by this fungus. Central America is already expected to have losses up to $500 million this year alone, which is why the governments of these countries are supplying aid so heavily to coffee farms in their area.

How does this affect us?  Well, first we could see a lack of coffee quality from the Central American region, then very likely a rise in coffee prices.  Jeff Vojta, Co-founder and President of Stockton Graham & Co., says, “Our biggest concern is for the future of our quality Central American coffees. Climate change, in addition to the Roya, is causing even more damage.  Hopefully they have caught this in time, and high quality coffee will still be available to market.”  While we are currently not affected, we have already begun to see the prices on certain coffees from Central America start to rise, which could affect our prices in the future.

For more updates on the coffee fungus crisis, or other news in the specialty coffee world, be sure to check out our website.  If you are not currently signed up to receive our monthly newsletter, register on the website or give us a call at 800.835.5943 to have one of our customer care associates add you to our mailing list!

Information Sources:
Coffee-Leaf Rust is Tough Enemy to Attack – Leslie Josephs – The Wall Street Journal 5/14/13
Fungus Wreaks Havoc on Coffee Crop – Leslie Josephs – The Wall Street Journal 5/14/2013
Coffee Workers Unemployed as Fungus Hits Central America: Jobs – Anna Edgerton, Adam Williams and Marvin G. Perez – Bloomberg Businessweek 4/23/2013
Overheard at the First International Coffee Rust Summit – Michael Sheridan- Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine 4/22/13
United Nations Hiring Leaf Rust Response Coordinator -Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine 5/8/2013


Build Your Business: Go Green This Spring!

Green-cupOne of the perks of spring is spending more time outdoors. To say “Thanks” to Mother Nature, do the responsible thing and make an effort for your shop to be a little greener. Nowadays, an ecofriendly lifestyle can be found almost anywhere, even in your coffee shop. “Green cafes” are increasing in popularity all over the country, and it is a great way to attract customers by showing them that you are making an effort to help make the environment better for everyone.

For those who like the idea of going green but, think it will require a lot of extra time, effort and money, think again. Going green is not only beneficial to the environment, it can be done at little to no cost or extra effort to you. Here are some helpful tips on how to keep both the environment and your wallet green.

Offer Stockton Graham Coffees
Several of Stockton Graham & Co.’s coffees are roast-to-order sustainable coffees. Sustainable coffees are certified or verified by an accredited third party as organic, fair trade, rainforest alliance, shade grown and more. Our sustainable single-origin selection is a great way to start exploring green coffees to add to your menu. We also offer blends that meet sustainable certifications as well, including a great organic espresso blend: Organic San Remo. To learn more about Stockton Graham & Co.’s sustainable coffees or inquire about samples, call your Customer Care Associate at 800.835.5943 today!

Switch to Paperless Invoices
Stockton Graham & Co. has been offering paperless invoicing for several years now, and it is a great way to cut down on paper use. We can send you a digital copy of your invoice, at your preferred email, with one click of the mouse. If you are not already signed up to receive your invoices via email, be sure to ask your Customer Care Representative the next time you place your order. They will be happy to update your information, and help you reduce your paper usage!

Keep your Equipment Clean
It may not be in your budget to purchase new high-efficiency appliances, but there’s no reason you can’t make sure the appliances you have are operating at peak performance. Keeping your grinders, blenders, brewers & etc. clean is not only safer, but it will allow your equipment to run much more efficiently. This also helps secure the longevity of your equipment, and to cut down on your power bill each month.

Reuse your Coffee Grounds
As a coffee shop owner, you know how much coffee grounds are left over every day. The question is, what do you do with them? If you are just throwing them away, you can make them useful! Coffee grounds happen to be very acidic, so they make for a great fertilizer for acid-loving plants. If you have plants such as roses or azaleas in or outside of your shop, coffee grounds will help your plants look better than ever! Let your customers know about these gardening benefits and see if they wish to pick up grounds from your shop. You can also use the bulk bags that your coffee comes in, as means to give grounds away to gardening customers. Coffee grounds in your garden are also an organic way to deter some types of plant-eating bugs.

Offer Recycling
With the amount of plastic and paper that you and your customers go through, make sure there are designated recycling bins in your shop. If you only have trashcans, you haven’t allowed your customers an opportunity to separate their trash from recyclables. Setting up recycling is extremely easy, and one of the most recognizable ways to show your customers that you’re doing your part for the environment. Make sure your recycling bins are clearly labeled so customers know exactly where to place their recyclables.

Have Discounts for Reusable Mugs or Tumblers
To cut back on to-go cup trash, encourage your customers to bring in their own to-go mugs for filling with your coffee. Offer discounts on beverages for customers who re-use. This not only cuts down on your cup costs and water usage, it also helps reduce paper cups making their way into a landfill. Go further, and offer tumblers with your logo on them for refilling. Customers will be helping the environment and sporting your brand!

Save Electricity
Consider replacing the light bulbs in your shop with more energy efficient LED bulbs. While they may seem pricey at first, these bulbs prove to last 25 times longer. This reduces your shop’s energy usage and time spent replacing old bulbs! These bulbs also contain no mercury or lead, so they are all around better for the environment. To save more energy, look into programming the thermostat in your store to save on HVAC costs. There is no need for comfortable temperatures when the store is not occupied.

Purchase in Bulk
Buying products in bulk is a great way to reduce cost and your carbon footprint. Instead of having your delivery truck make two deliveries, save all your orders for once and reduce the carbon that is released from the trucks. Stockton Graham & Co. encourages this by offering Free Freight on large shipments. Cups, straws and other shelf stable products are great products to purchase in bulk and take advantage of this great deal.

These are just a few ways that you can make your café a little “greener”. To many people, a green business is a responsible business and those are often the establishments they choose to offer their loyalty to. With little effort and cost, you can really make an impressive change that will allow you to feel better about making a positive impact on the environment and your bottom line. We have implemented many of these practices and more at Stockton Graham & Co. to help reduce waste and our carbon footprint. Contact us at 800.835.5943 to learn more about cutting down on your normal costs, and bringing new customers in the door!

Check out our other blogs on being green:
Earth Day Promotions for Your Cafe
Energy-Efficient Espresso Equipment