Tierra Blanca is a Zapotec indigenous town dedicated to coffee cultivation, located in the southern coastal range between Puerto Escondido and Huatulco.
After the boom of the Pluma Hidalgo coffee farms (Denomination of Origin) and its surroundings, the locals of Tierra Blanca took care of their own farms motivated by the prosperity and abundance of the area. People were attracted by the illusion of prosperity reflected in the farms with modern constructions and huge wet mills equipped with state-of-the-art German machinery not seen anywhere else in Mexico. However, for the workers, the reality was very different – life was characterized by low salaries and exhausting working hours.
The natives were looking for prosperity and started to establish their own plantation, however, it was almost impossible since the coffee business was controlled by a small group of businessmen and friends of the time. So, in order to create the first coffee plantations, small producers found a way to steal seeds from the farms, hiding them in their hats and their clothes, without the foremen or managers noticing. Soon they managed to have their own plants and shared them with other small producers in the Loxicha area.
The cultivation of coffee for the Loxicha area, and especially for Tierra Blanca, is an agricultural resource with great environmental importance. Faithful to its principles of conservation, it has come to the fore in the face of economic and subsistence pressures in the region. Aware that coffee grown under native shade offers diverse ecosystem services since it is a reservoir for rainwater, it creates the conditions for the conservation of the flora and fauna. The coffee production cycle structure looks like natural forests. Under these extraordinary environmental conditions provided by the altitude and climate of the Mexican Pacific, the quality of coffee is enhanced, accentuating its extraordinary flavor and aroma, recognized worldwide as a “Pluma” coffee profile.
Currently, the producers of Tierra Blanca Loxicha are members of UNECAFE S.C, a cooperative promoting the production of sustainable coffee, supported by certifications under organic standards (USDA-NOP; EU; JAS; LPO), C.A.F.E Practices and Fair Trade, which allow the commercialization to different parts of the world. Likewise, it has opened the doors for them to make incursions with washed coffees for specialty markets.
The producers of Tierra Blanca, have continued the traditional process of coffee processing, using a drum or disc pulper. The beginning of the cutting process is completed with special care to guarantee an optimal and homogeneous maturity that highlights the attributes of the coffee. Due to the microclimate of the area, it creates the environmental conditions that allow up to 3 pickings during the harvest. During the picking, the instruction is to collect the ripe fruits. If a picker delivers coffee mixed with immature fruits, they are manually removed prior to the processing and separated for local commercialization or self-consumption. Pulping is done on the same day of cutting in wooden or cement tanks.
Fermentation generally lasts 12 hours. Once washed, the coffee is laid out and dried under the sun on cement patios or “petates” (palm-leaf mats) that allow a natural and uniform drying, for a period of 3-4 days, with constant movements to obtain a uniform drying. This time will be sufficient for the coffee to dry its content moisture below 12%. At the end of the drying process, the coffee is stored at the producer’s home in jute bags, following the protocol to avoid all contamination and damage to the new coffee until it is collected to be concentrated in the city of Oaxaca, in the central warehouses of the organization. The specialty batches are then stored in Grainpro bags, waiting to be milled.