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Origin Guide, Central America


It is thought that coffee was first introduced to Mexico in the late 18th century with seeds that most likely came from Jamaica. However, due to the vast amount of mineral wealth in the country at that time, there was very little incentive to grow the industry. It was therefore not until 1920 when indigenous producers were able to grow coffee on their own land that smallholder production truly started to come into place. Production continued to increase throughout the 20th century and the Mexican Coffee Institute was established in 1973 to provide support and technical advice to producers which increased further investment in coffee.

However, disaster struck in the 1980s due to a drop in the price of oil which saw the government change its policies bringing about a decline in the industry and the collapse of the Mexican Coffee Institute. Farmers then had no access to credit and struggled to find a market for their crop, falling prey to predatory coffee buyers known as ‘coyotes’ who would buy low and sell high. This decline also led to a massive drop in quality, giving the country a reputation for the production of commercial grade coffee. In recent years, producers have formed collectives to try and take on some of the roles previously carried out by the Mexican Coffee Institute and have been marginally successful in forming direct relationships with buyers who value quality.

Mexico is now the fifth largest coffee producer in the world - from afar, it is a growing economic force! However, the southern coffee producing states of Oaxaca and Chiapas (from where we source our beans) have poverty rates of 60-80%. ‘Roya’ (coffee leaf rust disease) and a lack of financial means to help tackle it has resulted in production yields becoming dangerously low in these areas - some producers have seen a reduction of up to 90%. The average yield in Oaxaca is now around 100kg of parchment coffee per hectare - in Colombia the average yield is 2,400kg per hectare…!

Around 75 per cent of the country’s coffee is grown by small scale producers who have less than 2 hectares of land. Coffee farming as a business is becoming more and more unviable resulting in mass migration to urban areas in Mexico and in the US and coffee production is slowly disappearing. It is for this reason we choose to buy coffee from this country and specifically from the southern states - our partner, Raw Material are working to improve the payment system for producers to bring about higher and speedier payments alongside initiatives designed to improve yield and production practices. In doing so, the hope is that we can collectively work to safeguard the future of coffee in these regions for the families reliant upon it.

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Learn more about our supplier partnerships.

We work with a number of impact driven companies who support us in building an offering designed to not only offer an amazing cup of coffee but one that contributes solutions to some of the major issues facing our industry.

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