San Cristobal de las Casas is a “Pueblo Magico” (Magic Town) in Chiapas, a government designation “defined as places with great symbolism and legends, they are towns whose historical importance has been fundamental for the development of history and that enhance the national identity in each of its spots.” Nearly half of the population are of indigenous decent, mostly Tzotzil, many of whom earn their living in coffee. Located in the dramatically undulated tropical highlands of Chiapas, equidistant from the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, San Cristobal experiences significant variations in weather, from warm and wet to cool to dry and cool. This combines with rich soil to create ideal conditions for growing coffee.
Mexican coffee grows in 15 states throughout the southern half of the country but over 90% comes from four states: Veracruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Puebla. Specialty coffee comes from the highlands of Veracruz on the gulf coast, the mountains of Oaxaca and Chiapas at the southern tip of Mexico. In Veracruz coffee grows from 1,100-1,660 m.a.s.l. In Chiapas coffee grows from 1,300-1,700 m.a.s.l. In Oaxaca coffee grows from 900-1,650 m.a.s.l. Coffee is grown by more than half a million farmers, 95% of these being smallholders cultivating less than three hectares and 85% of Mexico’s coffee farmers are indigenous Mexicans. Most Mexican coffee is grown under shade and Mexico is one of the world’s largest producers of certified organic coffee and Fair Trade coffee. Most Mexican coffee is Bourbon, Catura, Maragogype, or Mundo Novo, though other varieties can be found. Mexico grows almost no Robusta.