Producer Profile: Selva Negra, Chiapas, Mexico

Written by Cafe Campesino on Mar 1, 2008 in NEWSLETTER, Producer Profile |

Maty suggested that we profile the producers of our Mexico Chiapas Full City, as the green beans are roasting beautifully. Maty describes the cup as sweet and smooth with hints of caramel aroma with a balanced body and lower acidity. Read more about our friends at Selva Negra below.

Based high in the mountains of northwestern Chiapas, the Federacion Selva Negra Zoque is a small cooperative of 180 members in the Black Forest (which is how Selva Negra translates into English) of Chiapas. Selva Negra is appropriately named — the mountains where their coffee grows are often covered by dark clouds that bring an unusually high level of rain to the area and help create excellent growing conditions. Formed in 1992, many members moved to the area after being displaced first by major dam projects in the area then by the volcanic eruption of El Chichonal. 

These farmers are some of the few remaining native Zoque people. The culture in this area is quite different than other parts of Chiapas from which we purchase coffee — the coastal state of Tabasco heavily influences the area and there is an “old west” feeling in these small towns. After Selva Negra received their organic certification in 2005, Cooperative Coffees arranged to buy their first container of coffee for decaffeination. Now this coffee is also offered as one of Café Campesino’s single origins from Chiapas, Mexico.

With assistance from Equiterre and CIDA in Canada, Selva Negra is building a model training facility for their members and others to learn organic farming techniques. The 3-acre test plot includes a chicken hatchery, worm composting beds, and an organic vegetable garden. Buildings are constructed using rammed earth building techniques. Coffee Kids helped a women’s group associated with the cooperative launch a mushroom growing project now includes over 20 families. Each family can produce several hundred pounds of mushrooms for sale in local markets.

The producers are looking forward to completing their model organic garden facility and finding a warehouse for coffee storage.

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