Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra, Mundo Novo, Maragogype
• Chiapas is Mexico’s southernmost state, sharing a border with the Guatemalan state of Huehuetenango.
• The Sierre Madra mountain range provides the region with volcanic soils and lush vegetation.
• All coffee trees are shade-grown, supporting diverse forest habitats.
• Chiapas suffered upheaval during the suppression of the Zapatista movement, which rebelled against the oppression of indigenous peoples by military and commercial groups.
• Fair Trade organizations are now instrumental in socio-economic development in the area.
• Organic farming is slowly strengthening local economies and improving nutrition.
• Agriculture is ecologically sustainable and community-driven.
About our Mexican Chiapas:
Mexico’s diverse geography, from the soaring altitudes of the country’s four mountain ranges to the beautiful coastal regions along the Pacific, supports diverse farming practices and a broad variety of crops. Chiapas is the country’s southernmost state, home to the Sierra Madre de Chiapas Mountain range. To its west are the coffee growing regions of Oaxaca and Vera Cruz, but it is the beans of Guatemala’s famed Huehuetenango region, directly to the east, with which Chiapas coffee shares so much character.
The quality of Chiapas coffee owes a lot to the region’s turbulent social and economic history. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s coffee prices hit rock bottom, with quality green Arabica beans being bought for as little as 40¢ per pound – well below a living wage for small farmers in Mexico and other developing countries. The Zapatista uprising in Chiapas further disrupted coffee cultivation, as the government’s merciless suppression of the revolutionary campaign compelled many local communities to migrate to the cities. Against this backdrop, the government ceased its promotion and support of small-scale coffee production, relinquishing control to Fair Trade groups who were eager to help stabilize the industry. Fair Trade organizations began a process of establishing farm cooperatives with an aim to ensure a fair minimum wage for growers.
Despite a rise in the price of green coffee, and the ever-lush volcanic soils of the Chiapas region, its people remain some of the poorest in the country; the state has the highest malnutrition rate, and lowest life expectancy, in all of Mexico. With a mostly rural population, the health and education infrastructure is under-developed, and hard-pressed to keep up with the needs of farmers. In response, many communities have begun a transition back to organic farming techniques as a way to achieve self- sufficiency, and to create a culture of agricultural sustainability for their communities. Levels of nutrition in people’s diets have been boosted by better quality fruits and vegetables, and crop yields have been improved. The continued development of a network of Fair Trade farming cooperatives is helping the people of Chiapas slowly improve their quality of life. These cooperatives now act as focal points for the reconstruction of damaged communities, and Chiapas is currently experiencing a period of renewal, driven in part by its organic, chemical-free coffee crops and growing reputation for superior quality beans.