Higher Grounds Coffee

Mexican Yachil

Almond, dark chocolate, caramel candy.

There’s all sorts of good vibes happening in this coffee that offers toasted almond, candied apple, and maple syrup aromas and flavors. As the cup progresses, dark, rich chocolate melds with buttered toffee and caramelized body for a sweet, lingering cup.

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Sierra Madre de Chiapas
Yachil Xojobal Chu’lchan Co-op
Washed Process

Meet Yachil Xojobal Chu’lchan Co-op

The Yachil Xojobal Chu'lchan Cooperative launched in 2001, with 383 farmers from the surrounding indigenous communties. Meaning “New Light in the Sky” in Tzeltal, the co-op is now nearly 800 members strong. Yachil members are allies with the Zapatista Army of National Liberation because of its progressive agenda in seeking social and agrarian reform, especially regarding indigenous rights.

Zapatistas are a "faceless" group, in that they accept everyone, and symbolically, one of their principles is not to let their faces be photographed. The grower pictured here sports the typical practice of covering half their face with a bandana, also reflected in the mural photo above.

The Yachil Co-op exports over 130 tons of high-quality coffee annually. Sales enable members to develop independent indigenous communities, preserving their Tzotzil and Tzeltal Mayan customs and cultural heritage. Recently, they have upgraded their locally-based wet processing equipment and built a secure central warehouse.

Chiapas, Mexico

Cloud forests. Mayan ruins. Dazzling biodiversity—the Chiapas region is steeped in history and mystery. In the language of the Aztecs, Chiapas means “place where the chia sage grows.” Home to both the Mayan ruins of Bonampak, where intricate murals are preserved, and Palenque, which is located in a national park, Chiapas shows evidence of human occupation as early as 1400 B.C.. Mayan, Aztec, Spanish cultures have all made their contributions, yet Chiapas’ ethnic groups have maintained much of their ancient cultures, traditions, and customs. In fact, the state has one of the largest and most diverse indigenous populations in Mexico, with approximately one quarter of the state’s population speaking their native language.

The Chiapas region produces 60% of Mexico’s total coffee output, is second in cacao production, grows sugarcane, bananas, and other fruit, as well as producing approximately 4.7 million gallons of milk annually.

Traverse City, MI

Higher Grounds Coffee

It all started with a trip to Mexico. Owner and co-founder, Chris Treter, was living and working among coffee farmers at the Maya Vinic cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico as part of a post-graduate internship in 2001. For the farmers, poverty and a lack of access to basic resources such as education and water were simply a way of life. As he neared the end of his internship, Chris asked his farmer friend, Jose Perez Vazquez, “How can we keep helping you?”

“You could sell our coffee,” said José.

And that’s exactly what Chris did. From selling Maya Vinic Co-op’s coffee at his local farmers’ market, Higher Grounds grew. Eventually they also sought out coffee from other sources and joined forces with a handful of other roasters to form an importing cooperative, Cooperative Coffees. Every trade relationship they have is modeled after that first one, and every year they still purchase from Maya Vinic. Furthermore, Higher Grounds Coffee donates 1% of their sales to On the Ground, their partner nonprofit. On the Ground empowers coffee farming communities through gender and social equity, environmental sustainability, and economic security.


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