La Roya affected coffee and Alex Stoffregen holding a La Roya resistant coffee plant.
One of the most exceptional Mexican coffees we’ve tasted this harvest is from the Comon Yaj Noptic Cooperative, a cooperative of 186 small to medium sized farmer members that has made a firm commitment to both quality and organics as an organization. Comon, like many other coffee coops in Central and South America Comon has been affected by the coffee fungus “La Roya” otherwise known as leaf rust. This fungus infects the plant’s leaves and eventually makes them fall off, leaving the coffee tree unable to photosynthesize and produce coffee.
Many affected by La Roya have turned away from organics, but farmers in the Comon Coop have forged ahead, innovating their way out of the problem of La Roya. The Coop has recently built an impressive plant nursery with overhead irrigation that allows for hundreds of thousands of Roya resistant coffee varietals to start from seed each year. Organic compost used by members is made near the coops headquarters using byproducts of coffee processing that would otherwise be thrown away. This composting center also cultures microorganisms to be used for organic sprays to fight the spread of Roya on a microbial level. All of these efforts help to protect the safety and wellbeing of the area’s several endemic plants and birds, as well as the communities that live and farm there.
Kickapoo has been fortunate to have the chance to spend time with Comon to work on quality initiatives including microlot separation in the past, and most recently visited this past January to learn about the extent of their fight against Roya. On that trip we brought a friend working closely with Maya Vinic, another Mexican coffee cooperative we work with, to learn about how they too may organically overcome La Roya. We are proud to work with Comon, and thank them for helping to share knowledge to help fight Roya with other coffee cooperatives undergoing the same struggles.