Mexico is one of the world’s largest coffee-producing countries in the world, and the largest in production of certified organic coffee, accounting for over 60% of the world’s total production.
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Coffee is one of Mexico’s largest exports supporting nearly a half-million small farmers around the country, with the majority of farmers being in Mexico’s two poorest states, Chiapas and Oaxaca.
Coffee wasn’t introduced to Mexico until the 18th Century when the Spanish brought the plant from Cuba. The first coffee farms didn’t begin until decades later in 1790 in Vera Cruz. Mexico’s vast reserves of precious metals and mining put agriculture in the backseat for many decades until the mining boom slowed and civil wars and international conflicts left the indigenous people searching for new ways to survive in a changing Mexico.
After the Mexican Revolution, small farmers began looking at Mexico’s agriculture and coffee in a more serious manner. In a Post-Revolution Mexico, Agrarian Reforms provided thousands of pieces of land to indigenous people and laborers to begin Mexico’s farming and coffee industry.
In 1973 Mexico developed INMECAFE, the National Coffee Institute of Mexico, as the government recognized coffee as a valuable asset to the nation’s economy. INMECAFE was developed to encourage and support coffee farming among small farms. Farmers were provided with education in coffee farming along with financial assistance and transportation to market. However in 1989, INMECAFE collapsed as Mexico’s economy took a downturn and forced the country into default.
The collapse of INMECAFE sent Mexico coffee exports into a tailspin that reduced exports by nearly 60% between 1985 and 1991.
In the early 1990s Cooperatives were formed and helped replace many of the government functions that took place under INMECAFE. The Co-ops encouraged organic growing and certification of farmers as their market for exports and reestablish Mexico’s once strong coffee farming industry.
Today, Mexico is the leader in organic fair trade coffees in the world. Even as close as San Sebastian del Oeste, in the Sierra Mountains just outside of Puerto Vallarta, the evidence of a thriving organic coffee industry can be seen. As you enter the colonial town you cannot help but notice the aroma of fresh coffee coming from Rafael Sanchez’s, a 5th generation coffee farmer and owner at La Quinta Mary.
If you don’t have any plans to visit the area soon, there is still a chance you can have Rafael’s coffee shipped to you, even in the USA. You can order beans by phone (52 32 2168-7516) or contact Sanchez via email at [email protected]. You can also visit them on Facebook.