“Coffee is picked selectively, sorted, and laid out to dry on patio under shade-net for 18-25 days. Milling takes place in Atoyac, before coffee is transferred to another mill for additional sorting.”
Finca La Estanica is in a rough place for coffee. If you go to the State of Guerrero, drive to the coffee town of Atoyac, then go up mountain for about six hours you will come to Ejido San Vincente. Most farmers here still use donkeys to make a 18-20 hours trip out of what you just did in six hours.
Here, high in the Sierra Madre del Sur range, you will meet Senor Santiago Solis Ayerdi. He is one of the few farmers who has a truck; he was among the first to farm coffee in this region back when coffee first arrived to Guerrero in 1955.
Snr. Ayerdi will take you on a tour of his farm, pointing out shade coverage and organic practices. But he is even more proud of his three boys who help him to run the farm. We met. Snr. Ayerdi and his son Marco back in 2013 when exploring possible sources for coffee in the area.
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.