DIRECT TRADE MEXICAN ZIHUATANEJO
Strawberry, cinnamon, cocoa
Region: Lyeva Mancilla, Zihuatanejo, Guerrero
Process: Natural process
Drying: Spread on pavement or solar dryer
Varietals: Typica, bourbon, caturra, garnica
Traceable to: 26 direct registered farmers
Phoenix Coffee’s newest Direct Trade offering comes from La Costa Grande in the Guerrero state of Mexico, set between the Pacific and the Sierra del Sur mountain range.
The climate here is ideal for growing coffee – and with little rain, the region is perfectly suited for specialty-grade production of natural processed coffees, like this one, which its farmer group calls “Natural Gold.”
Working with our farmer representatives, the 26-member Grupo de Trabajo Lleyva Mancilla registered as its own exporter in 2013 – which enables them to sell their rare coffee to the American market and receive a higher price per pound. Before, the farmers received on average only $0.75 per pound for their coffee. That was below the market rate at the time, which was $1.25 per pound. By selling directly to Americans (such as us), our farmers are able to fetch a premium for their coffee.
That's huge. That's the money that the farmers use to raise their families and educate their cihldren and invest in their futures. That's the money they use to increase the quality and yield of their crops.
As a result, in preparation for next year’s harvest, where the farmers will receive a premium for cup quality, the farmers are building better storage facilities, testing soil, cupping and renewing their organic certification – all of which will help improve the yield, quality and price of this unique coffee.
FARMER INFO - AND HOW COFFEE CAME TO ZIHUA:
Some of our farmers wanted to send along some information about themselves. They're proud of the coffee they've produced and want us to know - and to communicate to our customers - the humans who labored to produce the coffee we drink.
Maria Guadelupe Gomez-Andzo, a 59 year old farmer, wife, and mother of three, cares for 40,000 trees on her farm, loves to listen to Cumbia music, and dreams of vacationing to see the coffee farms in Costa Rica. "You can see the beach from my farm, which is so beautiful. Our coffee is kissed by the salty breeze of the sea even though my farm is over 1,200 meters high. I care very much about protecting the environment, the soil, the birds, because I know that all of it goes into making the world’s best coffee." Her favorite food is rice and beans.
40,000 trees might seem like a lot - but the yield of these trees is just an average of 1-1.5kg per harvest per tree. Dismal. The increased revenue from exporting their coffee directly will help the people of Zihua increase their yield and quality of life.
Casear Galieana Sortiz is 95 years old; a few weeks away from turning 96 when our farmer rep, Jake, met him in the lush garden courtyard of his house on the outskirts of Zihuatenejo. Back in the 1960's, when Casear was a young man in his early 40's he left the tourist town on foot, travelling away from the ocean and up the mountains. The first few times he followed the river up, since there was no road. This trip could take up to two days.
Later, he purchased a burro and enjoyed a 12 hour donkey ride up the mountain. He would stay there for 2 weeks at a time, sleeping under a tree with a pistol to protect him from panthers or pumas or jaguars.
After a few years neighbors from Zihuatanejo would follow him and start their own farms. Locals who lived on the mountainside would come by to cook food and later stay to pick coffee for pay. Later still Casear moved his family up to the farm, and stayed there until his children had to go to school.
Why did he do this? The short answer he gave: 'I was stubborn and stupid'.
Before Casear there was no coffee in the area of Zihuatanejo. But he know that there was markets South in Atoyac.
The longer answer he gave had to do with a lack of education and opportunity to do much else. Casear saw the rugged undeveloped mountains behind Zihuatanejo as an opportunity to make something that he could pass on to his children.
And he did.