Zapoteco is an association of 180 coffee producing families from three towns in the Sierra Juarez. The Sierra Juarez, as well as being the birthplace of Benito Juarez- Mexico’s first President of indigenous origin - is a temperate mountain range to the north of Oaxaca city. Los Machos, the group who produce this Zapoteco coffee, is led by Romulo Chavez. Romulo has been working for several years now to establish direct relationships with buyers in order to obtain higher prices for the producers of Los Machos. He has also fostered a very strong communal outlook for the association and its producers. Most members of the association are of Zapotec heritage and speak Spanish as second language after Zapoteco.
There is a very strong, communal aspect to Los Machos across its three towns that is deeply rooted in the historical ties of the community to the region. Rather than employ pickers during the harvest, when a member’s coffee is ready to be picked, several neighbours will help the producer to harvest their coffee. Instead of payment, the producer whose coffee is being harvested is expected to cook lunch for everyone and in turn, to help pick the coffee of those who helped them when their coffee is ready. Farm sizes range from 0.5 to 5 hectares but the average member of Los Machos has less than one hectare of coffee and produces between 100 and 150 kilos of parchment per year. The coffees are pulped and fermented, often in hand built, wooden tanks, then dried on petates, traditional woven mats.
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