Flavor mapping before the harvest leads to each micro-zone having a different processing plan (e.g., washed, natural, honey, anaerobic, etc..). Drying is done on raised beds in solar tents, taking 15-20 days for washed, 24-40 for honey and 60-70 for naturals.
El Equimite is one of Mexico’s only biodynamic farms (as of 2020 there is one other). This puts them at the forefront of learning how to apply these uber-organic practices to coffee, and to coffee in Mexico. This includes soil conservation, biodiversity, extreme shade and water management. They are located in Coatepec, Veracruz, with 15 hectares under cultivation for coffee and less than 20 bags a year in production. Every lot is a nano-lot, grown and processed with competition in mind. The mission of this group includes defining, then redefining the upper-end of what’s possible when it comes to quality in Mexico, and to share this knowledge with their network. El Equimite, as a model farm, is one part of a larger network that includes fertilizer, education, a bio-tourism lodge, Montesorri school, an exporter, and a team of cuppers entrenched in parnter cooperatives throughout the country.
Mexico is for coffee lovers. Few origins offer such variety, such competency, and such short flights to the farm. While often overlooked by their neighbors to the north, Mexico is the world’s 7th largest coffee producer, the largest exporter of organic coffees, and a fast-growing consumers of specialty coffee.
Seventy percent of Mexico’s crop comes from larger estates, concentrated around Veracruz, with the remaining thirty percent coming from 2 million smallholders, spread around the country but mostly in the Southern States of Chiapas and Oaxaca.
This is also where we find most of Mexico’s indigenous population, communities who moved higher and higher up-mountain, onto smaller and smaller plots of land, first to get away from colonial Spain, and later pushed by larger landowners during decades of highly political land reforms. In this way Mexico’s agrarian, coffee and Puebla movements are intertwined.
Though coffee arrived into Mexico two centuries earlier, it did not take off until the late 20th century.
In the 1970s a farmer friendly government came to power and encouraged smallholder production. Coffee exports skyrocketed nearly ten-fold over the next two decades. However, in the middle of this growth the government had to default on debt, cut back programs, and end a decade of federal support for smallholders. Price, markets and credit dwindled to drips – and on top of that – we got some Roya too. Oh, and did we mention the condition of the peso?
Into this distressed situation we see the rise of the coyote; middle-men who build truckloads of coffee up from 1-5 bag household level. Still today, buyers look for points of aggregation that can cut out middle-men but still give them access to volumes.