mexico los milagros chimney fire coffee

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MEXICO - Los Milagros



REGION | Chiapas

PROCESS | Washed 

SPECIES | Arabica 

VARIETY | Bourbon, Caturra, Maragogype, Marsellesa, Typica

ALTITUDE | 1100 - 1200 masl


This coffee grows in a part of Mexico that could have been Guatemala, it is right on the border. In the 1800s there were disputes as to which country the land belonged. These were resolved in 1884 when the border was officially established. This area is part of the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, a mountain range that forms part of the “Western Backbone” of North America. This chain of mountain is locally known, in the indigenous language of the Man people, as The Range of Miracles or “Los Milagros”. 

The Miracles are the result of the water that comes from the highest mountain in the range. This water makes its way through a secret tunnel, created by the river’s flow over many thousands of years. This water was said to be able to heal those who were sick. 

The healing power of the water is not just spiritual as it goes down into the sounding areas of Chiapas which are vast and arid and would not survive without the flow of the rivers born in the mountains. The tunnel carved out by the river has also been used in the past as a place of refuge during times of hardship and war. The coffee produced here grows with this water and is a symbol of the miracles that this river and tunnel have been for all who have encountered them. 


As throughout most of Mesoamerica, Mexico was first planted in coffee during early colonial times, most likely in the late 18th century. Due to the greater attention paid to the region's rich mineral desposits and mining opportunities, however, coffee didn't really develop as an industry until later, especially coming into its own in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the redistribution of farms after independence and the emergence of smallholder farmers, specifically those of indigenous origin. In the late 20th century, the Mexican government established a national coffee institution called INMECAFE, which, like the FNC in Colombia and ICAFE in Costa Rica, was developed in order to offer technical assistance, botanical information and material, and financial credits to producers. Unfortunately, INMECAFE was something of a short-lived experiment, and dissolved in 1989, leaving growers with a vacuum in their access to support and resources—especially those in very remote rural areas. This disruption to the infrastructure as well as the coffee crisis that followed the end of the International Coffee Agreement plunged Mexico's coffee farmers into despairing financial times, which of course in turn affected quality dramatically. Throughout the 1990s and since the beginning of the 21st century, an increased presence, influence, and focus of Fair Trade and Fairtrade certifications and the emphasis of the democratically run small-farmer cooperative organization has worked to transform the image of Mexican coffee to one that reflects sustainability, affordability, and relatively easy logistics, considering its proximity to the United States. 

In recent years, Mexico has struggled mightily with coffee-leaf rust and other pathogens that have reduced both yield and cup quality. This, combined with enormous turnover of land ownership and loss of labor to emigration and relocation has created a somewhat tentative future for the producing country, though we have seen great cups and great promise from quality-inclined growers and associations there. The top cups are fantastic, and they're worth the work and long-term investment to try to overcome the obstacles facing the average farmer, who owns between 1–5 hectares. (Though some of the mid-size estates will run closer to 25 hectares.)


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