Despulpador. sembrar. ingreso. acopio. molido.
Bienvenidos al estado del café. Welcome to the state of coffee.
Moi couldn’t have said it better. He recently took us to CESMACH, a coffee cooperative that is located just a few blocks away from the CES office. Having been raised the Sri Lankan way, it is tea that I drank all the time as a child, so I’ll admit that my knowledge about the difference between blonde roast and gourmet and organic is unfortunately limited. But while here, you can’t help but learn about “green gold”–as they say in Chiapas when referring to coffee– as it is the main cash crop and source of livelihood for the state’s many subsistence farmers.
As for me, my trip to CESMACH involved several hours of learning about everything from the proper way to toast coffee to the process in which coffee testers evaluate taste, smell, acidity and much more.
Two things in particular that I learned & loved:
- There are 3 stages of smelling that must be completed when testing coffee. Seco, mojado, and rompimiento. Bending low to the spinning marble table before him, the guide who was showing us around the cooperative closed his eyes and took a deep whiff of the steaming hot coffee before him. You can’t touch it, he advised. Moving to the right, he bent down and did the same to the next white porcelain cup. These cups were lined up along the edges of the table, and each whiff was a means of discerning what seemed like intelligible differences between one brew and the next. For me, maybe, but to him each whiff told a different story about this particular coffee variety and where it came from. I’ve never seen such an intimate experience in smelling before but it was incredible to witness. I like to think my sense of smell is even a bit better for having given it a try myself.
- I learned that there is one type of coffee in particular that is called “Café femenino”–it is produced exclusively by 175 female coffee growers in the region. Some are widows and almost all are impoverished as they provide for their children in an occupation that is generally considered men’s work due to its physical burden. Our guide (Moi’s friend) told us that there are a few companies that choose to buy this coffee exclusively from the cooperative in order to support these women. I absolutely loved that. This reminded me of Inesha and my work with GrowLanka. Having the chance to meet some of these incredible women and hear their stories was icing on the cake.
A few pictures below!