- Altitude: 900 - 1800 meters
- Varieties: mainly Criole
- Established in 1985
- Membership: 1033
- Located in the regions around Oaxaca
Yeni Navan started as a small organization regrouping organic coffee producers from various ethnic groups. Their name, Michiza, is an abbreviation of these five groups: Mixtecos, Chinantecos, Chatinos, Cuicatecos and Zapotecos. The farmers hoped that through the organization they would be able to stop the local intermediaries from manipulating the local price of coffee and exploiting them in the process.
Initially, they sold their coffee only on the local market. In 1989, the organization obtained legal status under the name Yeni Navan, and they had the authorization to export. By 1991, they were capable of exporting independently.
MICHIZA offers technical support to its members to improve their capacity in organic agriculture and overall coffee quality and yields. MICHIZA is also responsible for marketing and the direct export of their members` coffee. In addition, they are in a constant process of promoting women`s participation in their decision-making, the impact of which is noted in the number of women who are members.
Fast Facts on Yachil Xojobal Chu’lchan
- Founded in 2001, Organic Certified in 2005
- Over 800 Members in 8 municipalities
- Annual Production - approximately 6.5 containers
- Altitude of plots between 1,000 and 1,300 ftFounded in 1984
Yachil Xojobal Chu’lchan, which means “new light in the sky” in the Tzeltal language, has members from the Tzotzil and Tzeltal Mayan indigenous groups supportive of the Zapatista autonomous movement working towards respect for Indigenous rights. In 2001, Yachil began to organize its first members with 383 producers from the municipalities of Chilon, Pantelho and San Juan Cancuc.
In 2003 Yachil sold its first container to Germany, and in 2004 they sold just over 2 containers to Germany and into the US. They currently are comprised of over 800 members in eight municipalities ( Pantelhó, San Juan Cancuc, Chenalhó, Tenejapa, Chalchihuitán, Aldama (magdalena de La Paz), Simojovel (16 de Febrero) and El Bosque (San Juan de La Libertad)). They are currently hoping to export 6.5 containers to even different buyers. Coop Coffees is currently the only American importer.
Members of this cooperative have formed their own local Indigenous governments, which focus on community development efforts to promote democracy, equality, and empowerment. Members do not accept government handouts. Over the last decade members of Yachil have suffered repression at the hands of government security forces and the paramilitary. Many members and their families have been forced to flee their communities as internal refugees and they continue to be victims of oppression, intimidation, and even assassination.
- Altitude: 800 -1000 meters
- Varieties: Arabica, Bourbon, Criollo, and Costa Rica Oro Azteca
- Established in 1984
- Membership: 500
- Region: Located in the Sierra de las Tuxtlas mountains near Catemaco, Veracruz
Tucked away in the Tuxtlas mountains of Veracruz, Mexico lies Cerro de Cintepec Cooperative. “Cintepec Hill” is located near the Laguna de Catemaco, a beautifully picturesque lake surrounded by volcanoes and a neotropical rainforest similar to that found in the Amazon. About half of the members in Cerro de Cintepec Cooperative are native Popoluca. Trees such as avocado, hazelnut, orange, banana and many others provided not only shade, but also a diversified food supply and income for farmers organized under this cooperative. This organization is characterized by their diversified production, from cattle (for meat and milk), fruit production, black pepper, to their main focus of organic coffee production.
The cooperative was founded in 1984 when a group of producers in the community of Zapoapan de Cabañas began to organize, joining together coffee producers from twelve different communities throughout southern Veracruz. Their goal was to overcome the coyotes and the poor prices they were offering. Now 26 years later, members of Cerro de Cintepec are moving forward, thanks to their organization and access to better markets. In 2007, after several years of being unable to sell their fair trade and organic certified coffee to a secure buyer, a relationship was established with Cooperative Coffees. "It means so much to us to have you here," Don Santo told us with pride, "Mexico is a beautiful country, but the prices offered to producers are not very pretty. Your visit is a true testament of our work and organization to overcome the coyotes and find better prices, to find value in the work that we are doing, and making connections with buyers in foreign countries."
Members of Cerro de Cintepec were able to make this connection through their relationship with RedCafes (the National Network of Sustainable Coffee Producer Organizations). RedCafes is a secondary umbrella organization which operates out of Chocaman, Veracruz and serves recently established sustainable coffee ccooperatives throughout the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Puebla, and Veracruz. Today REDCAFES has some 1680 members from 85 communities in several different coffee growing regions. They offer organic production advice as well Roasted coffee for cafeas technical assistance to better market coffee in the international export market and most recently in local, roasted markets. They have recently opened a beautiful, producer-owned coffee shop in the town of Ciudad Serdan, which serves as both an outlet for the roasted coffee and an additional source of employment.
Since the beginning, RedCafes has served as a window to development, an alternative option for all producer organizations that aspire to develop their skills, organizational growth, and increased production as well as income, but because of their low number of members, low volume, and null commercial structure have difficulty doing so alone. RedCafes was born in the middle of the coffee crisis when the coffee prices reached rock bottom. During this time, many members of Cerro de Cintepec (and other regions of Mexico) either left their lands and migrated north, or cut down their coffee farms and began planting corn. The collective of social organizations decided to strategize in order to confront the ups and downs of coffee prices, following organic and fair trade production lines. With prices on the rise again, producers today see more opportunities in growing coffee, through direct, positive relationships with buyers.
Fast Facts on Maya Vinic
- Altitude: 900 - 1400 meters
- Varieties: Typica, Caturra, and Mundo Novo
- Established in 1999
- Membership: 500 - approximately 70 women
- Region: Located in the highlands of Chiapas (Acteal)
The Cooperative "Producers’ Union Maya Vinic" is comprised of some 500 coffee farming families located in 38 highland communities in the municipalities of Chenalhó, Pantelhó and Chalchihuitán, in Chiapas, Mexico. Each member has an average of one hectare and produces an average of 400 kilos of coffee from each plot. Inspired by the traditions of their ancestors, Maya Vinic is organized and operates in keeping with a respect of local culture, language, reverence for the Mother Earth and traditional forms of self-government.
Maya Vinic was born out the wider civil society "Las Abejas”, an organized response to the prevalent injustice in their communities and in the hopes of promoting positive change and autonomous development by pacific means. The plight of their communities came to the public eye in the aftermath of the infamous Acteal Massacre, where 45 men, women and children were killed by paramilitary forces and thousands more displaced from their homes.
The organizational structure of Maya Vinic holds a General Assembly as its maximum authority. An Assembly of Community Delegates works in close conjunction with the Producers’ Board of Directors to accomplish the tasks assigned to the Education, Technical Assistance, Marketing, Administration and local Arbitration and Problem Resolution Committees.
[Rep at Polho] Coffee production is nothing new to the farmers of this region. “Recruited” since the arrival of the plantations in the early 1900s as poorly paid hired hands during the harvest, they learned about production and processing, and the wealth that coffee had made for a fortunate few. Soon, seeds began trickling back to the Highland communities of Chiapas.
Farmers eventually were able to organize themselves into producer cooperatives in search of more equitable markets. In keeping with this legacy, Maya Vinic has recently been accepted to the FLO register and is in the second year of organic certification. Cooperative Coffees purchased the first Maya Vinic coffee to be exported under fair trade terms in 2001.
In order to be able to offer a consistently high-quality coffee, raised with care and dignity, the coop offers educational and capacity-building activities focused on sustainable farming techniques and the importance of a strong social economy. As a collective initiative to improve the living situations of their farmers, Maya Vinic understands that in addition to providing a greater economic benefit, the coop works for the dignity and fair treatment of its members through coffee production and marketing.
This coffee has a unique and balanced flavour, with soft fruit undertones and a mild acidity.
A mild coffee from the Mexican Yachil cooperative with hints of lemon zest and honey, with a smooth chocolate flavour.
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* photos courtesy of Cooperative coffees - http://www.coopcoffees.com