At least one Halifax coffee shop is increasing its prices for a cup of joe after months of increases in the cost of beans.

A fungus has been destroying coffee bean crops in Central America for about a year and a half, and now, a drought has made matters worse for bean farmers. 

The problem has been going on for months, but for the owner of the Smiling Goat Organic Espresso bar, this week was the tipping point.

“About a couple of months ago our wholesalers all bumped their prices a little bit per pound,” said owner Geoffrey Creighton. “We've held off as long as possible in bumping our prices, but we're going to have to do that as well."

Creighton is paying between five and ten per cent more for his beans, so he’s increasing prices at his Bishop’s Landing and Spring Garden locations by between five and 25 cents per cup.

Coffee Plant Disease

A fungus called coffee rust, especially deadly to arabica beans, has already caused more than $1 billion in damage across Central America. (Moises Castillo/The Associated Press)

"We should have raised our prices when the wholesalers did,” he said. “It will have to happen."

Creighton buys some of his beans from wholesaler Java Blend Coffee Roaster on North Street.

The company imports and roasts beans and also operates a small cafe.

Java Blend supplies several local shops and restaurants with coffee across Halifax.

Owner Jim Dikaios said he had to increase prices for his wholesale beans several months ago, but so far, he’s managed to avoid passing that onto his customers at the cafe.

He said while the coffee market is volatile, this cost increase is different.

He visited Costa Rica recently and saw the impact the fungus was having firsthand.

"[It] was having a dramatic impact, not only on their lives but on their production. That's when it kind of hit home that this is something that could be pretty serious,” he said.

Still, he has no plans to up the price of a cup of coffee at his shop for now. He said he’s optimistic costs will level out — and if they don’t, he’ll have a tough decision to make.

The flux in coffee bean prices isn't likely to affect big chains like Starbucks or Tim Hortons, who have more diverse supply chains.

CBC contacted about a dozen locally owned coffee shops in Halifax and about one third of those said they will have to increase their prices if bean costs don’t level out.