Coffee rust is caused by a fungus which causes powdery orange spots on leaves. The infected leaves drop from the coffee plant too soon. The coffee rust weakens the coffee plant, reduces yield and eventually kills it.

The yellow spores that form on the leaves spread easily with wind and splashing water. Spores need moisture on the leaf surface to start a new infection and in warm rainy weather disease can spread at an incredible rate. Climate change has made this fungus impossible to control. The change of rain patterns and the lack of consistent sunlight has created the perfect habitat for this disease to become an epidemic.

These coffee trees will have to be cut down and replanted with different varieties of coffee that are more resistant to the fungus. But this takes time and money. A new coffee plant takes 3-4 years to become productive and it will costs thousands of dollars to buy the seedlings.

It’s estimated that farmers across Central America lost between 50 and 70% of their crop in 2013. Sadly, our friends at Las Marias 93 in El Salvador produced so little coffee, that they will not export any this year.  In February 2013, Guatemala declared a state of emergency, reporting over 70% of the coffee crop infected with the disease. The coffee harvest is expected to be reduced both this year and the next.

Connected by Coffee is committed to donating 5% of all proceeds towards Roya recovery to the 4 cooperatives featured in this film. These funds will be applied to specific projects focused on re-planting, organic fertilization or intensive organic training programs, food security garden projects or other initiatives to generate additional family income. 

Chelsea Bay DennisCOFFEE RUST