This is part 2 of Joel's blog about his trip to Mexico with our green coffee importers 'Raw Material' earlier in February 2023 - to visit Farms that grow and process some of the coffees we purchase here at Rave
The following morning, we moved on to Finca Chelín in Pochutla, run by Enrique López. Enrique is very well regarded in Mexico as someone not only growing great coffee varieties and experimenting with different processing, but passing on his knowledge to other producers and helping them access buyers. As you arrive on the farm, You are immediately greeted by coffees, of different processes drying on the patio.
In specialty, patio drying is often looked down on, but due to the slightly less humid climate, this method works perfectly and is easy to train with less infrastructure versus drying on raised beds. His coffees were some of the standout of the trip, and his openness about how they were processed and going so far to pulp a coffee from our group, just so we could see the process was incredible.
The cupping table at Chelin brought up some amazing tasting notes like Gooseberry, Rose, Blood orange and tinned peaches. Each coffee had a beautiful nuance and its own unique characteristics. We left with small tokens from Enrique and a bundle of knowledge.
We stayed that night at Shaun’s house, although due to it still being built, most of us camped. I always hated camping when I was young but to be fair, that was usually in the rain, without specialty coffee to wake me up and without the view!
We travelled for just an hour, staying in the Sierra Sur, to visit Union San Pedro.
This is another Large association that Raw Material works with.
Salomon Garcia is the leader of the Association here and they do a lot of work on biodiversity. After breakfast with him, we went to see what this entails. His farms contain many other agricultural products, including cardamom, vanilla, avocados (at the higher altitudes), cinnamon and Cocoa. These products also allow for increased streams of income for the farmers in the region. The farm Salomon showed us is his demonstrative farm. It’s used to educate other farmers, experiment with different varieties and farming techniques. as well as developing new seedlings for the region.
Salomon then drove with us to visit Mario Perez Santos. His farm has been badly damaged by the hurricane which recently pelted the Sierra Sur. A number of his Pluma Hidalgo variety plants were suffering from leaf rust, a fungi that grows on the leaves, limiting photosynthesis and therefore the plants ability to supply nutrients to the maturing cherries. Dramatic weather events are sadly very damaging to a farmer's main source of income. However, his coffee we cupped the following day was still delicious and we hope to secure some for later this year! Also, unrelated, he has the best bananas I have ever tasted.
The last day before flying back to Mexico City was spent cupping coffee while overlooking the Pacific ocean. This was Thomas’ house and he hosted us to try Mario’s aforementioned coffee along with lots of different harvest from the Sierra Mazateca.
Overall, the trip to Mexico for myself and Rave is an important opportunity for us to see where and how the coffee we buy is processed and managed; meet the producers involved giving a human face to the product we roast and showcase; and lastly a chance to select coffees during the harvest early that we have particular interest in for when it lands in the country. I feel I learned so much in a short span of time while in Oaxaca and I’m glad for the opportunity.