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Mexico - Zapoteco - Washed



From afar, Mexico is a growing economic force, ranked 64th globally in GDP per capita. However, the vast majority of Mexican coffee, is grown by small farmers in the southern-most states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, and theses coffee-producing states face a very different economic reality. Oaxaca and Chiapas are the two poorest states in Mexico, with poverty rates of 60-80% and extreme poverty rates of 20-40%, and not coincidentally, have the
largest indigenous populations. Close to half a million small farmers and their families rely on the crop for their economic survival. When people list famous coffee origins, Mexico is often left out. Yet it has a lot to offer. Because of its central location, close to both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Mexico is perfect for the cultivation of Arabica beans. Mexico’s coffee plants tend to flower 3 to 4 times each year due to its location and diverse climate. The months from November to March usually see successful harvesting of coffee crops.

Historically, Mexican coffee was viewed as an inexpensive, low-grown blender with cup characteristics including a nuttiness, chocolate, and generally mild citric acid. However, today, high-grown Mexican coffee has extremely interesting complex citric and malic acidity, balanced sweetness in the form of chocolate and toffee, and an overall clean cup. There is potential for them to be outstanding: the 2019 Cup of Excellence saw six Mexican coffees break through the 90-point threshold. Cruz José Arguello Miceli’s Gesha won with an impressive 93.07 points (and sold for US $35.40/lb green). In recent years, Mexico has struggled mightily with coffee-leaf rust and other pathogens that have reduced both yield and cup quality. Since the Roya outbreak of 2015, the situation for coffee farmers in areas such as Oaxaca has been bleak. Coffee yields fell 80% as a result of the disease, causing many cooperatives to dissolve.

The good news is that Mexico’s coffee industry is recovering, with exports increasing 57% from 2015 to 2018. Production, at this point, was above 4 million bags again. One of the things that really has helped set Mexico's coffee apart is the abundance of both Fairtrade- and organic-certified coffees. The strong influence of indigenous groups and cultures has long been the driving force between smallholders' embrace of organic practices, as they are often in line with traditional growing philosophies and utilize similar if not the same techniques. Fair Trade has also done considerable work with regards to encouraging smallholders to organize and operate within cooperatives, which allows them to pool resources, provides better access to credit and financing options, and creates more market presence and leverage in a competitive global economy.


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.


Tofee, Apple, Chocolate