SIERRA MAZATECA, OAXACA
Mazateca Mujeres De Sierra Juarez
Agua Iglesia is a small town in the remote Sierra Mazateca region of Oaxaca. Most coffee producers in the Mazateca have between 0.5 to 5 hectares of land with the average producer owning less than one hectare. This means that, as in much of Oaxaca, production is very small and yields are lower here than in other areas of the state.
The Sierra Mazateca mountain range is located to the north of Oaxaca city and forms much of the state’s border with Veracruz. The region is very remote, hard to access and marked by its steep and dramatic topography. The Mazateca is also known for its more mystic elements with a strong culture of shamanism and psychoactive mushrooms that saw it become an unlikely centre for alternative tourism in the 1960’s and 70’s.
Today the region is rarely visited, and even in the coffee world it is often neglected due to the challenging conditions, remote locations and small production. Even by Oaxaca’s low standards production yields are tiny here in part due to the cool temperatures. Coffee is generally grown at 1500 metres and above in the Mazateca and at this latitude, these altitudes experience very low temperatures making frost damage a real issue for producers.
This climate and these altitudes also contribute positively to the cup profile and in general, coffees from the Mazateca are among the most complex and highest quality in all of Mexico. Many producers here do not speak Spanish, and Mazateco is the first language for the vast majority of people in the region. This can make organisation and coordination a little tough, but the quality and potential make the Mazateca one of the main focuses of our work in Mexico. Agua Iglesia
is not a formal co-op or association but rather, a community led producer group that is coordinated by Felipe Palacios. Felipe is a retired teacher from Sierra Mazateca, who now works with us to coordinate coffee producers in the region, specifically around the towns of Peña Colorada, Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, and Agua Iglesia. Working closely with Felipe, we are aiming to open up access to the specialty market for producers in the Mazateca, and to provide a sustainable and profitable supply chain for their coffees.