Last week I participated in Let’s Talk Coffee, importer Sustainable Harvest’s annual value chain event, for the fifth time. The content of the event was broader the caliber of the speakers higher than at any other LTC event I remember. But the best presentation of the event—the one that still has me thinking the better […]
The application of climate science to coffee has generated an inconvenient truth: the map of the coffeelands in Mesoamerica will be redrawn over the next 40 years, and by 2050 the specialty coffee map will likely be much smaller than it is today. Against the backdrop of the current coffee rust epidemic in Central America, […]
Tomorrow I travel to Houston for the annual gathering of the SCAA. CRS has participated in some capacity in every SCAA since 2004, but this year is special. It marks our first time participating in Symposium, our first time with a booth on the show floor (#441) and the largest CRS delegation ever. With new […]
Maya Vinic means Maya Man in Tzotzil, one of the three indigenous languages the organization’s members speak. Maya Vinic’s members say the cooperative’s name evokes their ancestors and their coffee, which they grow with love and respect for Mother Earth, in the highland forests of Chiapas. Maya Vinic’s members believe that the extraordinary quality of […]
For MICHIZA’s 730 members — indigenous smallholders whose families have been farming coffee for generations — massive renovation is the best way to ensure that their past has a future.
The identity of the Maya Vinic cooperative in the Chiapas highlands was forged in a context of brutal violence. When I first visited Maya Vinic, the group’s advisor told me: “Maya Vinic cannot be understood outside the context of Bishop Samuel Ruiz, the Zapatista uprising and the Acteal massacre.”
Less than a week after I visited the site of the Santiago massacre in Guatemala, I found myself in the bed of a pickup truck, rolling out of San Cristobal through some stunning Chiapas landscapes toward the highland town of Chenhaló. We slowed at the entrance to Polhó under the watchful gaze of the Zapatista sentries in their iconic balaclavas, and admired the mural of the Zapatista Guadalupe on the side of the tiny chapel there. We pulled to a stop in the coffee-growing community of Acteal and reflected in reverent silence on the murder of 45 people there just days before Christmas in 1997.
The mountainous terrain where quality coffee thrives provides welcome cover to revolutionary groups, and invites the presence of the counter-revolutionary forces that stalk them. This dynamic has put coffee communities in the cross-fire from Mexico to Peru since the early 20th century. The cries of innocent victimes continue to echo loudly through the coffeelands.
Over the past week and a half, I have been posting on the issue of how coffee companies are investing at origin. Today: what they are investing in, and how that may be changing.
I am in Oaxaca this week — life is good. I came back to Oaxaca in late 2008 for the first time in more than 10 years, and to my very pleasant surprise found some very nice coffee shops, including Cafe Brujula.