This coffee was produced by Carmela Aduviri from Copacabana, a small and remote settlement located 180 kilometres from La Paz in the heart of the Caranavi province. This region is the epicentre for specialty coffee production in Bolivia, with incredibly high altitudes, rich soil, and wide daily temperature ranges providing the perfect conditions for exceptional coffee.
The inhabitants of Copacabana first began farming coffee around 35 years ago. Farms here are small and traditional. Almost all work is carried out by the farm's owners and their extended families, with a handful of temporary workers taken on to help out during harvest. All of the producers at Copacabana were born into the Aymara, an ancient indigenous group which lived on the Altiplano (a vast plateau of the central Andes that stretches from southern Peru to Bolivia and into northern Chile and Argentina). The region was known for the world’s highest lake, called Titicaca, and when their families moved to Caranavi, they named their ‘colony’, or settlement, Copacabana.
Carmela has worked in coffee for fourty years while raising eight children. Her farm, “Carmelita”, is about 2 hectares in size, and is located at an altitude of 1,400 to 1,550 metres above sea level. Today Carmela manages the farm with her son, and together they have worked incredibly hard on improving and producing the best quality coffee they can. They grow a mix of Caturra and Catuaí variety trees on their farm, which grow in a rich clay soil under the protective shade of native forest trees, whose heavy leaf fall creates a natural mulch fertiliser, and whose canopy provides an important habitat for the many bird and insect species in the area.
The families who live in Copacabana, including the Aduviri family, used to depend on the local market to sell their coffee, meaning low prices and little reliability. Now they selectively pick their coffee cherries and are able to sell their top-grade coffees for substantially higher prices to MCM's partners at Agricafe, which processes specialty lots at its Buena Vista wet mill which is located in Caranavi.
The first of its kind in the country, the Sol de la Manaña program is aimed at sharing knowledge and technical assistance with local producers to create better quality coffees in higher quantities. By doing so Agricafe hopes that coffee production can be a viable and sustainable crop for producers, like Carmela, in the region for many years to come.
After the coffee was delivered, it was placed into a floatation tank and all floaters were removed. The whole cherries were then dried on on raised beds in the sun and turned turned regularly to ensure it dried evenly. The drying was then finished off at a very low temperature in a stationary drier. The coffee was then transported to La Paz where it was rested, and then milled at the Rodriguez family’s brand new dry mill. At the mill, the coffee was carefully screened again by machines and also by hand to remove any defects.
Carmela worked hard to collect and process the cherries for this special micro lot and carefully hand polished all of the cherries before delivering them to the mill! A whole lot of love and hard work has gone into this coffee.. we hope you enjoy it!
Read about the Sol de la Mañana program here and Pedro Rodgriguez here and about Bolivian coffee more generally here.
Finca Chelín (CM Natural) - Mexico
White chocolate, dried cranberries and madeira wine.
Country: Mexico Province: Oaxaca Elevation: 1,550 - 1,700 masl Variety: Pluma Hidalgo Processing: CM Natural Producer: Enrique Lopėz Sourced Through: Raw Material Coffee ---
Enrique’s farm Finca Chelín is renowned for his high-quality lots, ranging is multitudes of experimental ferments of high cost and quality varietals. Enrique is highly influential in Oaxaca, and delivers educational training, talks, and access to buyers for other producers in the region. Esther Escamila for example, whose coffee Raw Materials also buy, has trained at Chelin. Enrique has been a vital link for RM and their partners Red Beetle in connecting us with producers across Sierra Sur. Enrique’s focus is creating a name for Oaxacan coffees, that are incredibly high quality, and delicious.
For this lot cherries are picked very ripe (dark red - purple, ideally around 26°Brix). They then rest in carbonic maceration (anaerobically in a closed plastic tank) for 4 nights before drying. Drying is firstly for 4 days under direct sun, then under shade nets for roughly 30 days.
About Raw Material's work in Mexico
In Mexico, RM's work is based in Oaxaca and Chiapas. From afar, Mexico is a growing economic force, ranked 64th globally in GDP per capita. However, the coffee-producing states in southern Mexico face a very different economic reality. Oaxaca and Chiapas are the two poorest states in Mexico with poverty rates of 60-80% and extreme poverty rates of 20-40%
Production yields have become dangerously low in these regions. Over the last ten years coffee leaf rust disease and the lack of financial or agricultural means to tackle it has reduced production by up to 90% in some regions. The average yield in Oaxaca is now just 100kg of parchment per hectare. For context, in Colombia, the average yield is 2,400kg per hectare.
The vast majority of Mexico’s 500,000 coffee producers are smallholder farmers and have one hectare or less of land under coffee. This makes the average annual production for many producers just 100kg, making coffee farming more and more unsustainable. This is fuelling widespread migration to urban centres in Mexico and the United States. In short, coffee production is disappearing.
RM work with several producer groups in Oaxaca. These partnerships help improve the overall profitability and viability of coffee production for producers in Oaxaca, and have begun work in Chiapas. Their long term focus is on improving yields and building stable demand at a stable price by connecting roasters with producers. They aim to achieve this in ways that are low-cost, easily replicated, and that ensure the first-order upsides are captured directly by those most marginalised.
To achieve these goals they have focused first on building trust and setting a baseline for coffee pricing and pre-financing. Currently, the most common outlet for producers in Oaxaca is to sell their parchment to local intermediaries at a market-set price.
RM aim to consistently pay upwards of this standard market price as a first payment. Following this is a second, quality-based price that increases total profit earned per kg by between 7 and 10 times. This has been self-identified as the most impactful role we can play in the short term. Paying in this way provides rapid, predictable returns on investment made by producers and can increase household income from coffee by up to 10 x the average income derived from selling at the local market price.