While Goldberry is relatively new on the scene, we are already launching an important partnership with the good people in the green, mountainous, east-central region of Mexico. Many low-volume coffee farms are scattered across the mountaintops surrounding the village of Chicontla, Puebla, and other tiny nearby communities.
Our point person on the ground, in Chicontla is Pastor Horacio Mendez. He is part of a family of coffee growers and continues to farm a portion of the family’s estate. At the same time he oversees several congregations in the area while operating a small store just to make ends meet. Like much of the community, Pastor Horacio has been hit hard economically by the depressed coffee trade in the region. Extremely low coffee prices have drastically limited the farmers’ ability to maintain and process their crops at a level that sustains a reasonable quality of life. One result is the need for many men to leave their homes to seek work elsewhere. Another is the movement of young people out of the area and into the cities. An even more urgent result has been despair that has led to extremely high rates of teen suicide and pregnancy, which are among the highest in all of Mexico.
In late 2010, Goldberry Roasting Company’s Doug Cooper made a fact-finding trip to Chicontla to get a first hand look at the region and her people. While he found the people to be extremely warm, hard-working and community-minded, he witnessed the integral symptoms of the drastically depressed coffee-trade. Farmers have had insufficient means to purchase appropriate amounts of fertilizer, causing plants and production to be scant. The local coffee cooperative has not been able to afford necessary repairs of processing equipment, rendering it useless. Farmers have been forced to sell their coffee in unprocessed form, which fetches the very lowest price. In the meantime, improvement in product and crop quality have suffered due to lack of training and exposure to trends in the lucrative American gourmet coffee market.
At the same time, Pastor Horacio’s congregations, which are very important to the health of the community, are unable to secure funds for vital facilities and supplies for education, childcare and spiritual development. At least one of his congregations has a partially built facility standing empty and decaying due to the inability to build a roof. Pastor Horacio needs help caring for his people from spiritual, material and healthcare standpoints.
Goldberry Roasting Company is partnering with Pastor Horacio and other coffee growers and community leaders to identify critical steps for development and improvement. We will be dedicating as much effort as possible to connect proper resources with vital strategies, while trying to build a niche market in the U.S. for coffee that is grown and produced in the Chicontla area. As you enjoy our coffee, you are encouraging our progress in this vital work.