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Jaltenango Organic

Chiapas is situated in the southern reaches of Mexico, with rich biodiversity and climbing altitudes – this region is known for its healthy soils and ideal climates for coffee production. As one of the five Mayan States in Mexico, Chiapas has a wealth of archaeological and cultural history. It is within this region that the Ek Balam was founded by a group of coffee producers, seeking to improve the many coffee-producing communities.
Ek Balam was founded in 2019 on three main values: improving the quality of life for coffee producers, spreading coffee grown in this region to international markets, and conserving natural and historical resources. The name of the organization honours the local Mayan history, translating to mean ‘the star jaguar,’ a reference to the famed cat living within the neighbouring protected areas. Today, the organization is comprised of roughly 1,054 smallholder coffee producers, each growing coffee on 4.5 hectares of land. These producers reap in the natural benefits of the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve and the Sierra Madres mountain range.

  • Farm Jaltenango
  • Varietal Various
  • Process Fully washed
  • Altitude 800 to 1,700 metres above sea level
  • Town / City La Fraylesca
  • Region Sierra Madres, Chiapas
  • Owner 1,054 smallholder producers
  • Tasting Notes Apricot, Lemon, Milk Chocolate
  • Farm Size 4 hectares on average
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Jaltenango Organic

Coffee is gathered from 6 municipalities in 35 communities with varying altitudes ranging from 800 to 1,700 meters above sea level. Varietals grown by the producers vary due to the different climates and elevations of each farm.

These producers have a rich coffee history, many of which inherited their coffee farms from previous generations. Most come from indigenous communities, still speaking native languages. Additionally, roughly 1/3 of these producers are female. In 2012, many of the Ek Balam producers were faced with the spread of Coffee Leaf Rust, which devastated the region. This led to the dissolution of many supporting coffee organizations in Chiapas, forcing producers to sell to local coyotes for low, unsustainable prices.

About Mexico

Coffee first arrived in Mexico in the late 1700s, introduced by Spanish settlers. These days the country produces a significant amount of coffee, though its place as a producer of coffee on a global scale has been significantly diminished due to the entry of untraditional Arabica producers on the scene and, in particular, due to crop losses due to coffee leaf rust. Although the country is one of the foremost exporters of certified coffee (both organic and fair trade), the specialty market for quality is yet to make significant inroads here. This is not because Mexico lacks potential for producing quality lots: the country boasts a huge number of growing regions with agreeable altitudes and climates, as well as hundreds of thousands of experienced, well-established small-scale farmers. With more than 600 thousand hectares in 12 states under primarily Arabica coffee production, Mexico has great untapped potential for the production of specialty lots.