Uproar Coffee, a specialty coffee micro-roaster in Northern Virginia, is gearing for more than a sourcing trip. Founder Marco Serpas will visit El Salvador this month to source arabica coffee and assess the devastation of the Roya fungus in the Central American country. Currently, $14 million dollars in aid have been pledged by USAID to combat the $1 Billion loss the epidemic caused; however, other long term solutions will be proposed by Uproar Coffee to coffee producers that may ultimately give the coffee industry a security blanket.
"I will be meeting with the Dean of the School of National Agriculture (Escuela Nacional de Agricultura- ENA) Luis Alonso Ibarra Perez to discuss how Uproar Coffee can aid the coffee industry in areas hurt by Roya" said Marco Serpas. ENA has worked closely with the agricultural sector since its inception in 1956; the school produces leading agronomists and works closely with the Salvadoran coffee industry when it is in a fragile state.
"ENA will be critical in helping us evaluate how we can better help the industry; sure, we can buy the best organic coffee, we can buy the best Bourbon coffee in the country, we surely can find some fantastic shade grown coffee in little nooks of Usulutan- the question then becomes, what can we really do to bring progress? Buying without a social conscious is like throwing money in pit- sure it made it down somewhere, but who knows what happened to it," Marco says with a big smile.
ENA and Uproar Coffee have been in talks of creating a program for student tourism in agricultural areas to expose American students to the realities of coffee and other export crops early on in their lifetime. The idea, also pitched to small producers in Usulutan via telephone, has received overwhelming support and remains a realistic solution. Coffee producers could benefit from extra revenue brought by helping others learn about their industry. The additional benefit really is having visibility to the outside world, have people loyal to their coffee, and build direct trade relationships with local shops in college cities and towns.