Visiting the Oaxaca Region, Part 1 : CARI Coffee

Visiting the Oaxaca Region, Part 1 : CARI Coffee

Hannah and Matt went to Mexico to meet with our sourcing partners and purchase fresh coffees during the harvest season!
Our first visit, and the majority of our time, was spent with our exporter friends at Cari Coffee. We visited their warehouse in Oaxaca City and cupped many fresh coffee samples with our friend Hiro and the team there. After this, we drove several hours into the steep and winding mountains to meet with a group of producers in the small town of San Pedro Sochiapam, accompanied by Hiro and Cari’s agronomist Uriel. In Sochiapam, we visited the home of Don Delfino, a coffee producer who is entering into the specialty market after many years of selling his coffee for low commodity prices. 

Don Delfino operates two farms between 30 and 60 minutes hiking-distance from his home where he ferments, washes, and dries his coffee. In order to increase his quality and participate in a specialty value chain, Delfino is investing in improving cherry selection when picking coffee. This means that the pickers only harvest fully-ripened cherries rather than all of the available coffee at the time of picking. 

We were invited into his home where his daughter made us an amazing meal of chorizo, scrambled eggs, black beans, and tortillas on their wood-fired stove. We shared high quality french-press coffee from elsewhere in Oaxaca in order to provide more context for specialty flavor profiles as Delfino and his son Ernesto shared more about how they produce their coffee, as well as express much curiosity and genuine interest in how to improve farm practices to meet the needs of more discerning specialty coffee consumers. 

Before visiting Don Delfino, we cupped his coffee representing his current practices around harvesting. We scored it quite high, even though he has not yet implemented the planned improvements in cherry selection. Knowing that improved picking will certainly pay off, we have committed to purchase this experimental lot regardless of how the coffee performs on our cupping table. This enables Delfino and his family to make these investments in improving quality with the security of a committed buyer to offset the increased risk and associated costs. 

In addition to our time at Delfino’s home, we visited two other small coffee farms run by two women named Victoria and Sylvia. It was wonderful to walk their steep hillsides with 25 year-old Typica variety interspersed with younger disease-resistant hybrids. Afterwards Sylvia invited us to her home to show us her small wet mill and drying operation, also on the rooftop of her house.

Many thanks to the folks at Cari, Don Delfino, Sylvia, and Victoria for their incredible hospitality and willingness to share their beautiful corner of the coffee world! 

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