El Escobal, Mataquescuintla
Pache San Ramon
Located in a lesser known region of Guatemala, the producers of Mataquescuintla have had little access to specialty markets. As a result, the prices they received were based on the terrible low commodity price of coffee, or “C-price”, often lower than costs of production. On top of this, producers in the region have been further strained by violent social conflict surrounding the proposed expansion of the Escobal mine, owned by Vancouver-based Pan American Silver.
The indigenous Xinca Parliament has repeatedly voiced opposition, plebiscites have shown 98% of locals in the surrounding towns are opposed, and peaceful protests were organized demanding consultation and transparency. In response, paramilitary security forces were deployed by the mining company, injuring and killing land defenders. To this day, producers face death threats and are systematically criminalized.
Having read about the conflict, Drew Johnson of Bows & Arrows Coffee in Victoria, BC travelled to the community, where he met Alex Reynoso. Alex is the unofficial leader of the coffee producers in the area, and an organizer in the local resistance. Drew then called on roasters back home to help, and a group of mostly BC-based coffee companies formed a makeshift buying group in 2019 with the goal of paying higher prices and forming longevity and stability with our commitments. The group collectively purchased over 40 thousand kilos of coffee that first year.
This is the third harvest that the group has been together, and we’re so thankful to be able to buy their coffees for a second year especially amidst the strains of the pandemic. This is not the type of glamorous or romanticized discourse we’re used to in coffee, but it’s important to add context to the lived realities of producers. We roasted Reyes’ coffee to highlight the crisp berry acidity and honey sweetness.