Fort Bragg, CA, March 24, 2014 – Last year, a group of staff members from Thanksgiving Coffee Company visited the farm of Alexa Marín Colindres, a member of the PRODECOOP Cooperative in Nicaragua. They toured her farm, listened to her heartbreaking story, and wondered how they could help. Alexa lives with her two teenage sons in the mountains of Northern Nicaragua, close to the border of Honduras, where they focus on growing the best coffee possible. She has been a coffee farmer for many years and has worked with the coffee-growing cooperative HYPERLINK “http://www.thanksgivingcoffee.com/prodecoop” PRODECOOP since 1992.
In 2013, Alexa noticed that the leaves on her coffee trees were affected by La Roya. La Roya is a fungal disease which attacks the leaves and prevents them from converting sunlight into energy. The coffee cherries turn brown and fall off before ripening, and the tree eventually dies.
“It was strange,” said Mischa Hedges, Thanksgiving Coffee’s Communications Director. “As we walked through her farm, we noticed that some trees were completely healthy, with big green leaves and full of ripe, red coffee cherries. Others were dry, withered and dropping brown, unripe coffee cherries on the ground.”
Later that day, the delegation from Thanksgiving Coffee sampled Alexa’s coffee in a blind tasting, and decided to offer it to the public. Jacob Long, the company’s Roastmaster, says “this coffee is one of the best Nicaraguan coffees I’ve tasted this year. It’s rich and sweet, with a pleasing liveliness and flavor notes of maple, chocolate & orange. It’s a favorite around the roastery right now.”
La Roya is thought by many in the coffee industry to be one of the many challenges brought on by Climate Change. This disease is sweeping across coffee country, devastating the coffee trees of many small, family farmers – and threatening their way of life. For some, this will mean starting over – even on a new piece of unaffected land. For others, it may mean removing or pruning affected trees and replanting where necessary.
To help the farmers they work with and protect their supply of green coffee, Thanksgiving Coffee decided to rally their customers to support Alexa and other farmers battling La Roya. “This disease is here and unless a major battle is waged to beat it back, Central American coffee will be a thing of the past, and coffee prices will rise as the supply of quality coffee is diminished. This is not Chicken Little talking here. This is absolutely a disaster about to happen this year,” says Paul Katzeff, CEO, Thanksgiving Coffee.
In early March, Thanksgiving Coffee launched Project: La Roya to help coffee farmers stop the spread of this disease and re-plant coffee trees that have been affected. The project will start with one farm: Alexa’s, to show how this effort can be replicated across Central America. For every bag of Alexa’s coffee that is purchased, $2 will be set aside for Project: La Roya. Two dollars will buy and plant one new coffee tree on Alexa’s farm.
“Alexa’s coffee is fabulous and we want her coffee farm to thrive. We want her to be able to refresh her trees and beat the Rust,” says Katzeff.
Find Alexa’s coffee in stores or support the project at HYPERLINK http://www.ThanksgivingCoffee.com/LaRoya.