Mexico

The Revolution of Mexican Coffee

Like with many of its neighboring countries, Mexico didn’t receive coffee plants until the late-1700’s when Spanish colonials brought plants from Cuba and the Dominican Republic. During this time, however, Mexico was exporting vast amounts of minerals like gold and silver, so agriculture generally took the back seat.

It wasn’t until the 1860’s that coffee as a valuable export really took off. Because of a border dispute with Guatemala, Mexico’s government was forced to begin registering land. This led to the many areas of previously unregistered land to be put up for auction, giving wealthy Europeans a legal path to Mexican investment.

Many of these Europeans, especially Italians and Germans, started large coffee farms in Mexico’s remote Southern regions and filled them with local workers who previously believed they owned the land. Thankfully, labor laws in 1914 freed these workers who had essentially become indentured servants. These newly freed and skilled locals started to get in on the growing coffee industry for themselves, particularly after the Mexican Revolution in the early-1900’s when the government created incentives for new farms.

Most Mexico coffee comes from the southern part of the country, where the continent narrows and takes a turn to the east. Veracruz State, on the gulf side of the central mountain range, produces mostly lowland coffees, but coffees called Altura (High) Coatepec, from a mountainous region near the city of that name, have an excellent reputation.

Other Veracruz coffees of note are Altura Orizaba and Altura Huatusco. Coffees from the opposite, southern slopes of the central mountain range, in Oaxaca State, are also highly regarded, and marketed under the names Oaxaca or Oaxaca Pluma Hidalgo.

Coffees from Chiapas State are grown in the mountains of the southeastern-most corner of Mexico, near the border with Guatemala. The market name traditionally associated with these coffees is Tapachula and Tuxtla Gutierrez, from the city of that name, but coffee sellers now usually label them Chiapas. Chiapas produces some of the very best and highest-grown Mexico coffees specially cultivated and harvested by local communities aggregated in Cooperatives and Associations of sustainable coffees.

The typical fine Mexico coffee is analogous to a good light white wine — delicate in body, with a pleasantly dry, acidy snap. If you drink your coffee black and prefer a light, acidy cup, you will like these typical Mexico specialty coffees. However, some Mexico coffees, particularly those from high growing regions in Chiapas, rival the best Guatemala coffees in high-grown power and complexity.

Mexico is also the origin of many of the certified organically and Fair Trade grown coffees now appearing on North American specialty menus. These are often excellent coffees certified by various independent monitoring agencies to be grown without the use of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, or other harmful chemicals.

We are proud to be working with over 9,000 talented farmers belonging to cooperatives in the Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Veracruz regions of Mexico. Zephyr’s role in these partnerships is to give quality around-the-clock technical assistance and training via the eight agronomists that we have dedicated to these regions and open the door to an extremely competitive global market. As these regions of Mexico are home to a few of the world’s oldest indigenous populations, many of these coffee cooperatives employ folks from these communities. Zephyr strives to celebrate and preserve the rich cultures of these communities and uplift their professional abilities through showcasing their coffees to some of the most well-known roasters in the world.

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Sourcing Partnership Highlight: ANEPAAN COOPERATIVE

Farmers: 329 members, 122 women

Region: Jaltenango, Chiapas

Type: Arabica

Altitude: 1,500-1,800 m.a.s.l

Process: Washed

Certifications: Organic and FTO (in progress)

Quality: HG & SHG

Volume: 10-12 Containers

Harvest: December-April

Shipment Period: April Onwards

ANEPAAN is a cooperative with ten coffee communities from Jaltenango municipality in the State of Chiapas. Since ANEPAAN’s conception 6 years ago it has been managed by Isabel and Julieta, two women who have a goal of giving other women producers access to a competitive global market.

The members of the ANEPAAN cooperative are 40% women, many of which having husbands that have migrated to the USA. The other 60% are young folks who inherited the land from their parents without really knowing how to work it.

Isabel and Julieta’s role has been to work with the youth and female members to raise awareness of farm management – both agronomically and operationally. This has fostered a sense of confidence and pride within the community, as they are receiving education while making money (which they can re-invest).

ANEPAAN’s focus is to increase production of differentiated coffee, as well as to produce honey and flowers. Today the farmers have a trees density of more than 4,000 trees per hectare. ANEPAAN produces 10-12 containers annually (all organic), 5 of which produced solely by women.

Sourcing Partnership Highlight: FINCA EL PILAR

Producer: Christian Bertrand

Region: Ocozocuautla, Chiapas

Type: Arabica

Altitude: 1,200 MASL

Process: Washed

Quality: SHG

Varieties: Anacafe 14, Sarchimor, Marsellesa

Volume: 5 full containers

Harvest: December-March

Shipment Period: April Onwards

Cupping Notes: Chocolate, caramel, citric and sweet, apple-like acidity.

Sierra “Cerro Brujo” or “Wizard Mountain” is the area where Finca El Pilar is located. The local legend says that wizards and witches once inhabited the mountain and made rituals to have prosperous crops and fertile soils. Sierra “Cerro Brujo” has a tradition and history for over 80 years, but not everything has been a happy story.

Generational changes, leaf rust and historic low prices in the coffee market led many families to leave their farms and it is estimated that 70% of the farms were abandoned. In 2015, Christian Bertrand started a flower project growing anthuriums, with the goal to create new sources of income for local families.

Christian was able to establish a sustainable model with a focus on crop rotation, allowing diversification of income and product differentiation through quality. With a mind-set wired to details and agronomy knowledge, Christian decided to get into the production of high end coffees.

The coffee farm started formally in 2016, a year after he began the flower business. Currently the farm has over 30 hectares under production and 20 hectares under renovation. In order to produce unique coffees, various techniques have been implemented, such as controlled fermentation and African raised beds for drying. Coffee from Finca El Pilar is definitely a coffee you want to try.

Sourcing Partnership Highlight: MEXICO FAIR TRADE COOPERATIVES

CASA COMÚN COOPERATIVE

Estimated Available Volume: 15 containers

Quality: FTO Strictly High Grown EP

Cup: Chocolate, caramel, citric acidity 82.25

Type: Arabica

Harvest months: October through April

Shipment months: April through July

Prime buying months: February through April

FEDESI COOPERATIVE

Estimated Available Volume: 15 containers

Quality: FTO Strictly High Grown EP

Cup: Chocolate, maple syrup, slight apple, citric acidity 82.75

Type: Arabica

Harvest months: October through April

Shipment months: April through July

Prime buying months: February through April

FEDESI COOPERATIVE

FEDERACIÓN DE SOCIEDADES COOPERATIVAS CAFETALERAS DE LA SIERRA MADRE F.C. DE R.L.

Location: Fronterizo Sierra Region (El Porvenir, Tapachula, Motozintla), Chiapas, Mexico

Farmers:  2,762 farmers, Mochos and Mames ethnic groups

Percentage Women Farmers: 35%

Overview: 6,646 productive hectares of: Arabe, Bourbon, Catimor, Caturra, Costa Rica, Marago, Variedad 6 and Oro Azteca.

Capacity: 20,000 bags (69kg GCE) production capacity

Climate: Altitude from 900 to 1,900 m.a.s.l with an annual average temperature of 28º C

Certification: Organic & Fair Trade

CASA COMÚN COOPERATIVE

CASA COMÚN FC DE RL

Location: Fronterizo Sierra Region (El Porvenir, Tapachula, Motozintla), Chiapas, Mexico

Farmers:  3,141 farmers, Mames and Mochos ethnic groups

Percentage Women Farmers: 37%

Overview: 5,500 productive hectares of: Bourbon, Oro azteca, Costa Rica 95 and Marsellesa.

Capacity: 17,000 bags (69kg GCE) production capacity

Climate: Altitude from 500 to 1,900 m.a.s.l with an annual average temperature of 30º C

Certification: Organic & Fair Trade

PRESERVING A RICH HISTORY AND CULTURE

Chiapas is located in the Southeastern part of Mexico bordering Guatemala to the South. Its land mass extends more than 75 thousand square kilometers, and its characteristics of soil and climate make its agricultural potential nearly unlimited.

Besides coffee, Mexico is a leader in the production of sugar cane, bananas and mangos. The State’s population accounts for 3.5 million citizens of which 45 percent live in urban settings such as San Cristobal de las Casas, Comitan de Dominguez, Tuxtla Gutierrez y Tapachula.

Culturally the state also has as rich a past. Chiapas was home to cities in which the ancient Maya culture flourished from 600 to 900. in particular the state was home to ancient ceremonial sites such as Palenque, Bonampak, Tonina and others based in the Lacandona jungle. The Mayan culture is noted in modern days because of its scientific advances. For example, its architecture, its knowledge of engineering and mathematics and its extraordinary astronomical predictions. In its natural environment, the determined Mayan farmer domesticated corn, beans, pumpkins, avocados and coffee, which made and continue to make with terrestrial and aquatic faun a complete diet.

The indigenous population represents approximately 36 percent of the state’s population and mainly resides in rural areas. The indigenous people are broken up in to 10 different ethnic groups: the Tzeltales, Tzotziles, Choles, Lacandones, Zoques, Tojolabales, Mames, Chujes, Ceckchiqueles and Mochos. The Mames and the Mochos are groups that contribute to our cooperatives in Chiapas. Historically, many of these indigenous groups have experienced violent oppression and been forced to assimilate with Western culture. As a result, the populations of these communities are unfortunately dwindling. Research shows that the Mocho indigenous group is made up of less than 100 native speakers. The Mames group is a bit more established, with 23,632 folks living mainly in the Soconusco region of Chiapas. Zephyr strives to celebrate these indigenous populations every day, and hope to uplift their professional abilities through showcasing their coffee to a competitive international market.