Origin Stories – Ramacafe

Future supplies of high quality coffee are in jeopardy in coffee growing regions around the globe. For you as a coffee drinker, this could mean that a good cup of coffee will be harder to come by and, for the 125 million people who rely on coffee for their livelihoods, it means less income to support their families and communities.

The spread of a plant disease called roya, or leaf rust, has been one of the largest challenges for coffee farmers in recent years, especially in Central America. Roya is a fungus that grows on the leaves of coffee trees, causing them to fall off and prevents the tree from producing coffee cherries. If left untreated, the fungus can move to the root structure, eventually killing the tree.

For Ramacafe, one of our direct relationship farms in Nicaragua, the roya outbreak caused a 50% loss in coffee production. Lower production levels meant less income for the producers and less money to invest in community programs like healthcare and education. Instead of sacrificing future production of quality coffee, Ramacafe chose to invest in their farms, including Finca San Francisco, by removing coffee trees affected by roya and planting a new type of hybrid tree that they anticipated would be roya resistant. Today the farms are back to pre-rust production levels and are roya free thanks to the investment in the hybrid coffee trees.

Ramacafe has extended their commitment to innovation in coffee farming by partnering with the organization World Coffee Research. In 2015 Ramacafe planted 35 test plots of coffee trees from growing regions around the world on their farm in Nicaragua. The growth and production of these trees will be analyzed to find out the affects climate and soil conditions have on coffee from other regions. The study hopes to identify coffee varieties that may be disease resistant and drought tolerant while still producing high quality coffee.

Test plots planted on the Ramacafe farm.

On a recent visit to Ramacafe, our Coffee Buyer and Master Roaster Shawn Hamilton was able to visit the site of the test plots and noted, “Research like this is imperative to the success of the future of coffee farming, from a quality standpoint as well as farmer livelihood. I’m proud of our direct relationships with farmers who see the value in investing in the future of their farms and other farms in the area.”

Your ecoGrounds coffee purchase helps enable farmers to participate in similar research studies that will benefit their livelihoods, the communities they support, and the coffee industry as a whole.

To purchase coffee from Finca San Francisco, a Ramacafe farm, click here.