Formed in 1994, Campesinos Ecológicos de la Sierra Madre de Chiapas (CESMACH) is a coffee co-operative in the southern highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. The 478 small-scale farmers in CESMACH are located in the buffer zone of El Triunfo, a very important U.N.-designated biosphere, containing many endangered and protected species. Within the nucleus of the biosphere, agricultural activities are not permitted. Organic farming is allowed in the buffer zone, which separates the biosphere from the surrounding region, as long as it is done in accordance with a strict set of standards designed to protect the fragile environment of the rain and cloud forest. For thousands of farmers living in this area, coffee is the principal agricultural activity and their only source of income. Because organic farming gives higher prices, and because the farmers wanted to protect the biosphere, the farmers organized to create CESMACH.
In 2005, Equal Exchange visited CESMACH and subsequently offered to buy 10 containers of coffee – 60% of their total production – and from that day forward our relationship with CESMACH has been steadily growing.
CESMACH is involved in many environmental protection and social development projects in the area. As part of their Sustainable Coffee Project, they are planting new coffee trees, as well as citrus and other fruit-bearing trees. They have a Women’s Project to teach leadership development and co-operative management to the women members and wives of members. The women are also working with organic gardens and domestic animals to diversify incomes and their families’ nutrition.
Each year, CESMACH is exporting more coffee into the Fair Trade, organic market, and more farmers are asking to join the organization. Along with three other co-operatives, they used their Fair Trade premiums to buy land and in 2008, they finished construction of a new dry processing plant. Milling their own coffee will enable CESMACH to further control for quality and reduce costs.*
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Mexico Chiapas, from Brio Coffeeworks in Burlington, Vermont. Feel free to pull up a chair.
origin: Ángel Albino Corzo (Jaltenango), Chiapas, Mexico
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Campesinos Ecológicos de la Sierra Madre de Chiapas
elevation: 1850 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, patio dried
certifications: Organic, Fair Trade, SPP
The aroma of this Mexico Chiapas is pleasant and pretty standard for a Central American cup with chocolate and nut overtones introducing soft, mellow citrus scents.
Taking my first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew, my palate is coated by a medium-bodied coffee with a creamy mouthfeel which is characterized by the milk chocolate overtones that were present in the aroma. Again, consistent with the aroma, there’s a nice hazelnut tone here in the cup, particularly riding out through the finish.
As the cup cools off, the profile doesn’t change too much; milk chocolate and hazelnut remain the dominant tasting notes. There are, however, some very mellow (and I mean very mellow) fruit flavors here in the back half of the cup, including cherry, apple, and an orange juice acidity that bubbles up from the bottom of the cup and rounds out a clean, somewhat lingering finish.
Medium body; creamy mouthfeel; citric acidity; clean finish.
I don’t want to say that this Mexico Chiapas, from Brio Coffeeworks, is just plain, but it is definitely a no-frills, straightforward standard Latin America breakfast coffee. It’s not one that will dazzle the taste buds, but with its mellow chocolate, nut, and citrus flavors, it offers a pleasurable sipping experience to get the day started off right.
*content by Equal Exchange
Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.