Small Producer Cooperatives
The importance of producer cooperatives in this connection cannot be overstated. In most coffee-producing regions there has been a historical struggle for fair treatment, where the dictates of governments, financial markets, corporate interests, and globalization neglect communities of small producers seeking a right livelihood.
The organization and cooperation of producers is a way for them to have a unified voice and course of action. Together they can be heard where a single voice cannot, and that voice speaks of the ongoing effort to raise one another to a higher standard of living, doing so in unison with the natural environment.
Each farmer has a say when it comes to how the co-op will utilize its resources and premiums, and they work together to bring the best quality coffee to the consumer at the best price possible. Decisions are made for the whole organization democratically, and the cooperative helps in providing and dispersing resources and support. This is essential when considering the remote nature of most of these farms high in the Sierra Madre mountains.
The cooperatives we work with are democratically organized, with elected farmers serving a single 2 or 3-year term. In these positions, they work diligently to navigate the ever-changing realities of the global coffee market, while learning new skills, and maintaining their farms.
Each co-op has a unique identity, culture and approach to producing their coffee and managing their resources. Every year we see great work being done in the realms of climate change mitigation, recognition of women farmers, environmentalism, food security, social justice, and community education.
It is an honor to work with these producer cooperatives, who demonstrate their resilience, resourcefulness, and strength in unity. Every time we as a company find ourselves in Chiapas, in the cities, towns, villages, and on the individual farms of these humble and hard-working people, we are inspired by their ability to do so much with so little, and by their solidarity in the pursuit of a fair and just living.
MEET THE COOPERATIVES
- Partners since 1989
- Indigenous Groups Represented: Mam, Chol, Mocho, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Tojolabal
- Coffee Varietals Used: Bourbon, Costa Rica, Mundo Novo, Peñasco
- Altitude of coffee farms: 3000 ft. to 6000 ft.
Café Mam and the ISMAM cooperative have a long, intertwined history, and we have been continuously working together since our inception. Café Mam purchased the very first container of coffee produced by ISMAM in 1989. ISMAM is our namesake and the soil from which our business and mission were grown.
- Partners since 2016
- Indigenous Groups Represented: Tzotzil,Tzeltal
- Coffee Varietals Used: Bourbon, Paca, Pache, Anacafe14
- Altitude of coffee farms: 4265 ft. to 5577 ft.
The cooperative of Finca Triunfo Verde brings a forward-thinking approach to this century's unparalleled social and environmental issues. Their use of the Climate Change Mitigation Fund has been exemplary, with technologically advanced projects to help understand the changes taking place on their farms, alongside consistent efforts to protect and strengthen the natural environment. They have many social programs in place including a women-led banking facility whose sole function is to help fund and promote women farmers.
Some of Triunfo Verde’s core values include:
- Justice: Work together to improve the standard of living of the members of the organization through the application of socially just, ecologically healthy, and economically profitable agriculture, regardless of customs, gender, political affiliation, or ideologies.
- Democracy: Promote the participation of all members of the organization in democratic decision-making.
- Freedom of Expression: All partners openly express their ideas.
- Gender Equality: Members and partners are equal and enjoy the same rights, obligations, and opportunities.
- Autonomy: In decision-making to determine their own destiny.
- Partners since 2017
- Indigenous Groups Represented: Tzotzil and Tzeltal
- Coffee Varietals Used: Typica, Bourbon, Mundo Novo, Marago, Caturra, Garnica, Geisha
- Altitude of coffee farms: 2952 ft. to 5249 ft.
Translated as, “the place of fluttering birds,” Majomut is situated in the beautiful highlands of central Chiapas. This cooperative is entirely indigenous, consisting of Tzotzil and Tzeltal farmers. There is a truly deep sense of community for the producers of Majomut and it is one of the oldest co-ops in southern Mexico, having celebrated their 40th anniversary in March of 2023. These producers' commitment to the cooperative, to one another, as well as to small producers everywhere, has been a source of great inspiration to Café Mam in our decision to become Small Producer Certified.
- Partners since 2012
- Indigenous Groups Represented: none
- Coffee Varietals Used: Peñasco, Geisha, Bourbon, Tipica, Mundo Novo
- Altitude of coffee farms: 2952 ft. to 5905 ft.
Hailing from Angel Albino Corzo, the CESMACH cooperative works with small producers in the buffer zone of the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, one of the last major cloud forests in the world. Amongst their many projects, CESMACH has been engaged and active for many years in bringing the work of women farmers to light in the commercial setting, with their Café Feminino brand coffee.
- Partners since 2009
- Indigenous Groups Represented: Tzotzil, Tzelta
- Coffee Varietals Used: Typica, Bourbon, Mundo Nova, Caturra, Catuai, Tupi, Geisha
- Altitude of coffee farms: 3937 ft. to 4921 ft.
From the agroecological and administrative center located in the quaint town of its namesake, the San Fernando cooperative has members throughout the Sierra Madres and reaching all the way to the Guatemalan border. This cooperative has done much over the years to bring technical training to this vast range of producers by providing workshops in soil conservation, pruning, diversification, shade management, pest and disease control, internal control systems, and the renewal of coffee parcels. Utilizing their property which consists of 74 acres of mountain reserve and 74 acres for coffee cultivation, San Fernando has undertaken an ambitious coffee renovation project, with the goal of renewing 30% of the total coffee area farmed by their members over a 5-year period.