Coffee Tour

We took a day trip from Barra up into the mountains to tour a local coffee cooperative.  Larry is a bit of a coffee nut, roasting our own back home, but we’ve have never actually seen a coffee bush in person.  This tour was to Cuzalapa up in the hills in Jalisco and the El Grupo de Mujeres Color de la Tierra cooperative, run by the women of the village. The day we went was their annual coffee festival.  The tour was run by a company called Mex-ECO tours, which we highly recommend for their focus on culturally sensitive and environmentally sound tourism. Our excellent tour guide was a young woman named Eugenia, and she was amazed when I told her my mother has the same name! Apparently not common in Mexico either.

In front of the cooperative announcing the festival.

After an hour and a half drive in a comfortable Mercedes van, we arrived at the village, which was little more than the cooperative buildings and residences along the side of a single cobblestone and brick road. 

The main road in town.

We went to a morning meal of outstanding tamales and coffee at an open air restaurant.  People were very welcoming and lovely!

Our group eating breakfast. We were the only Americans in a group of Canadians.
Wild growing coffee bush.

The coffee cooperative was formed in 2001 by the village women to keep more of the value generated by their coffee plants that grow freely on their properties in the village.  One of the women of the co-op spoke to us through an interpreter to tell us their history. Before the co-op was formed, they were paid a peso per kilo of coffee fruit from their coffee plants.  They banded together to learn how to harvest, process, roast and sell the coffee for about 200 pesos per kilo.  Most of the women in the village participate and it has been a good source of income for them, but they told us about having some challenges with machismo, and at least one woman in the village is still not able to be a part of the cooperative because of that.

One of the two roasters they invested in.

Another cooperative member, Maria, led us around her property to see her coffee plants and some prehispanic petroglyphs on a large rock. An unplanned but happy occurrence was the presence of an anthropology professor from the University of Guadalajara who was there to discuss the importance of this petroglyph for an ancient indigenous game with some university students.  We were lucky to listen, and that one of the students translated the lecture for us.

Maria is standing behind the professor on the rock. You can barely see the petroglyph in the rock to the right of the professor.
The game board for the prehispanic game called Patolli. It was amazing to think that this has been there for thousands of years.
Beautiful river running through Maria’s property. In Hurricane Patricia a few years ago it flooded many feet above the banks.
A General with a complicated history.

On our way back we made a brief stop in the town of Cuatitlán de García Barragán for ice cream and a walk around the square. Eugenia discussed the town namesake General García Barragán’s conflicted history. He was appreciated by the town for the investment he made in local schools while Governor of Jalisco, but he is also known for ordering the military to fire on the University students demonstrating in Mexico City in 1968 when he was Secretary of Defense. Of course, we have some similar history in the US.

Overall a great day trip, and when we got home we booked a bus the next day for Guadalajara!

5 thoughts on “Coffee Tour”

    1. They said they don’t use any chemicals and showed how they were using little containers of alcohol to deal with some kind of pest. Maria said they had a problem with town drunks drinking the alcohol so they had to add some type of dye to it to make them think it is something else. These are completely wild plants, in the middle of lots of other vegetation so I guess that’s shade grown!

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  1. Re coffee roaster pictured in last installment: I want one. Surely you have enough room in your baggage for a little thing like that! I think Mike and Eugenia would also like one. Maybe you should get another bag.

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