Starbucks Mexico contributes to the coffee community of Zongozotla, Puebla

By Starbucks México / Historias Starbucks

For Herminio Ponce, a member of the Totonacapan Coffee Cooperative in Puebla, growing coffee is not only a means of livelihood, but a family tradition.

“In my town it is customary to receive land when we get married. That is what happened to me, five years ago. This property has fed many generations, so we have to take care of it in the best way”, Herminio explains.

For Herminio Ponce, the coffee tradition is part of his family's legacy.

Like Herminio, Máximo Ponce also grows coffee on the slopes of Puebla's Sierra Norte. Like him, all the coffee producers of the Totonacapan Cooperative in Puebla have been in charge for years of transforming the coffee fruit into a cup of the best quality through pulping, fermentation, manual washing and drying of the cherry. Now, after more than twenty years of processing his coffee in an artisanal way, Máximo will discover a new process.

Máximo Ponce in front of the ecological wet benefit on the slopes of the Sierra Norte de Puebla.

Ecological Wet Mill

The quality of life of more than 9,600 coffee growers that are part of the Puebla Cooperative will improve with the delivery of a machine for the treatment of coffee beans called a collective ecological wet mill, which will increase productivity, quality and profitability, while reducing the environmental footprint generated by coffee cultivation and processing.

Starbucks Mexico, together with the Starbucks Farmer Support Center located in Chiapas, established an alliance with Fondo para la Paz I.A.P. to instal a collective ecological wet mill in the community of the municipality of Zongozotla, Puebla. Fondo para la Paz I.A.P. is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the development and well-being of the country's indigenous communities, increasing the capacities of people to generate their own livelihoods.

"Processing coffee is a manual job that takes around four hours to process a minimum of 4 tons of coffee cherry and uses 10 to 20 liters of water per kilo of coffee parchment," explained Alfredo Nuno, director of Starbucks Farmer Support Centers, where agronomists and quality experts work alongside farmers, sharing tools and information to help increase productivity and the quality of coffee on their farms, with the goal to improve their livelihoods.

“For coffee growers, having access to adequate training to use this ecological coffee wet mill will make coffee processing easier and faster while contributing to the reduction of water usage in green coffee processing,” added Nuno.

Alfredo Nuno, Farmer Support Center's director.

“This collective ecological wet mill transforms the coffee cherries that are collected from the plants into beans ready to be roasted. For the coffee growers, having this system means much less physical effort and significantly reduces the use of water,” Alfredo commented.

This is what the Penagos ecological wet mill looks like, which will help optimize processes for the Totonacapan Cooperative in Puebla.

Towards a more sustainable future for coffee

Along with the delivery of the wet mill, the farmers will receive training from the Starbucks Farmer Support Center in Mexico to use this system: “Now we can take better care of the environment and continue to grow as a community,” expressed Olimpia Gaona, who three years ago inherited a piece of land with old coffee plantations that she has gradually replaced with rust-resistant plants thanks to the support of the Cooperative and Starbucks.

Olimpia Gaona is one of the women who grow coffee on their own land in Zongozotla, Puebla.

The donation of the ecological wet mill is part of Starbucks "Todos Sembramos Café" program, created in Mexico in 2014. Each year, the program donates rust-resistant coffee trees for each bag of coffee beans sold in the country's stores. Last 2021, it delivered 400 thousand coffee trees to the communities of Puebla, Chiapas and Oaxaca.

The success of this program has inspired a similar one in the United States under the name "100 Million Trees Commitment." So far, these programs have donated more than 20 million coffee trees to Mexican producers, including members of the Totonacapan Coffee Cooperative in Puebla.

Reynaldo among mature coffee trees in the forest in Zongozotla, Puebla.

Community with C for coffee

Founded with 60 members, the Totonacapan Coffee Cooperative in Puebla joined Starbucks C.A.F.E. Practices 2019, which is a program of continuous improvement that seeks to guarantee a more sustainable coffee. With this and other support and training initiatives, the Cooperative will continue to reap the benefits of its alliance with Starbucks.

“I have been in the coffee business for 40 years and I have seen how production has improved in my community with the arrival of the Cooperative. We have received technical advice, monitoring of our plots, relief funds and plant deliveries from Starbucks, which have helped us grow as producers,” said Reynaldo López, a member of the Cooperative for two years.

“I like the whole process, from the sowing to the fertilization and care, but what I enjoy most is savoring a cup and knowing that it was the product of my work and effort. I am glad to know that, somewhere in the world, someone is drinking our coffee and they recognize the quality that we have in Zongozotla”, concluded Reynaldo.

In the humid mountains of Mexico, coffee is the way of life for Herminio, Máximo, Olimpia and Reynaldo, who are proud to know that, thanks to their work, Starbucks can continue to bring coffee to its customers and different communities, as it has for the past 50 years, while continuing to build a more sustainable coffee future for all by focusing on the things it values most: coffee, people, and the planet.

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