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San Pedro Yosotatu

Sierra Mixteca, Oaxaca, Mexico
Partner since: 2021 Traceable to: Individual Households Altitude: 1400 - 1650 MASL

Fully washed with 12-24 hour delayed pulping, followed by 24-36 hours of wet fermentation (in wood or stone tanks) before washing and drying on raised beds and patios for an average of 13-16 days, after which It is stored in a farmers’ house until delivery to Oaxaca City.

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Community Context

Yosotatu is an active Mixteca community in the Sierra Mixteca region of Oaxaca. The Mixtec name for the place being Ñuñume (meaning above the clouds). And sure enough, steep slopes capture the Pacific mists, making every morning a reminder. The route to here is called the ‘Devil’s Backbone’, and it’s over these passes that coffee comes out through Tlaxiaco and to Oaxaca City.

Despite the distances involved, this is one of the strongest coffee regions in Oaxaca. With the encouragement of a Pennsylvanian preacher, communities in this region got started in specialty back in the 80s. With the help of buyers like Stumptown and Sustainable Harvest, they have a track record for producing coffee at its very best. But then la roya hit. Yields went down, and qualities dipped. 2017 was their first rebound year, but it was too late to keep customers. Now many farmers sell as individual households, mostly to local middlemen or in regional markets. But more and more are looking to keep their coffees through to Oaxaca City where they can be cupped and kept separate for specialty.

Country Context

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.