The backcountry of Huatulco is home to many excellent coffee plantations. Each plantation has its own history, personality and taste! If you haven’t been up to the mountains, be sure to arrange a trip up to see, smell and taste our coffees for yourself.
Mexico was not originally a famous coffee-growing country. However, a rich heritage has developed in the small indigenous farms in this area.
Coffee first found its way into Mexico in the late 1700’s when the Spanish brought plants from Cuba. German and Italian immigrants relocated to Mexico from Guatemala and other Central American nations and began cultivating coffee with local Mexican families.
Over many years and struggles, the need to organize labor, land ownership and pricing controls became a priority. In 1962, the International Coffee Agreement (ICA) was established. It was organized to stabilize the coffee markets. In 1973, the National Coffee Institute of Mexico (INMECAFE) developed to support coffee cultivation among small Mexican farmers as the government realized the economic impact of coffee in this rural area.
The coffee trade flourished until 1989 when the failure of the ICA removed the coffee price floor and the INMECAFE also collapsed. This coffee crisis generated significant social and economic changes.
In the early 1990s, new groups were formed. And cooperatives developed to replace the transportation, processing and marketing arms of INMECAFE. These measures saved farmers and encouraged organic coffee production thru the use of more traditional farming methods.
By 2000, coffee became Mexico’s most valuable export crop. We are one of the world’s largest exporters of organic-certified coffee. High elevations, cool temperatures and natural shade protect the coffee plants from too much sun and rain, promote healthy soil and fewer pests allowing organic farming techniques to flourish.
Mexico’s three major coffee regions are Chiapas, Veracruz and Oaxaca. Each region has distinctive coffee character based on its production methods and the specific coffee variety grown. While it may be the least technologically advanced of Mexico’s main coffee-producing regions, Oaxaca coffees are certainly distinctive.
How does the coffee production work here today?
You can visit a coffee plantation today and here we’ll recommend a few. They will show you the process. Generally, coffee plants need three years to produce fruit and can then produce for 100 years with the most productive years being between 7 and 20 years old. Coffee plants are tended to year-round. Beans are picked by local families. Many local families have their own plots of a few acres. They dry, hull and sell their beans to a coffee merchant who resells or roasts the coffee for their own business.
Many of the techniques are traditional and coffee is produced much the same way as it was in the 1940s. You can get a warm cup of freshly roasted coffee with a guided tour of a family run coffee roasting facility. You will learn how the roasting process is customized. What better way to gain a new appreciation for your familiar cup of coffee than to travel to the source?
Where to Visit a Coffee Plantation
A few of the more well-known farms are listed here but you can always find more by just asking around on your next trip to the mountains.
Pluma Hidalgo is a small mountain village north of Huatulco. It can trace its roots back to 1871. Surrounding farms produce both coffee and chocolate. In 2020, “Denomination of Origin” status for Oaxacan Pluma Hidalgo coffee was awarded. The altitude causes mild daytime temperatures and cool nights in contrast to the hot climate of the coast. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Ocean 15 miles away.
Finca Copalita, founded in 1913. It was the first coffee plantation in the Pluma Hidalgo area and the first to export coffee to Europe. You will see the entire production process and taste the amazing organic coffee. You can hike to a waterfall, see the crystalline river flow into shallow pools and swim. Taste traditional local food and also visit the Herbarium located near the plantation.
Finca el Pacifica is one of the most traditional farms in the cultivation of organic coffee. Most of its land is dedicated to coffee but a portion is an ecological preserve. There are beautiful wooded areas where you can hike, ride horseback and enjoy the agritourism.
Finca La Gloria was opened by German expats who moved to Mexico after World War II. Today the owners continue traditional coffee-making. Tour the working farm, observe the complete process from crop to cup, and sample high-quality organic blends straight from the roaster. Plan to explore the butterfly sanctuary and hike to the nearby Llano Grande Waterfall. Splash around at the base of the cascading waterfalls, leap off the rocks, or swing from a rope suspended over a platform into the shallow pools below.
Finca las Nieves started producing some of the finest organic coffee in the world in the 19th century. It produces shade grown “altura” organic coffee while preserving and protecting the surrounding environment. Located in the cloud mountains, you can sign up for a day trip or overnight stay at this coffee farm and get first-hand experience working on the farm for your room and board.
How to get there
Many of the coffee farms can be difficult to find on your own, although not impossible. Driving over rough, unpaved roads into the mountains is challenging on the best of days. Wet weather during rainy season (June to October) can make a drive to the farm more difficult.
We recommend arranging your visit thru a tour guide. There are many good tours that include pickup and return. There are day trips, multiple farm visits. Some farms offer overnight accommodations that allow you to enjoy all the activities as well as delicious locally sourced meals and a truly spectacular look at the night-time sky.
If you’re driving up on your own, the road leaves from Santa Maria Huatulco to Pluma.
- No matter the season, take a sweater or jacket…mountain elevations are much cooler.
- Wear comfortable shoes for walking over uneven surfaces.
- Bring a hat.
- Please use environmentally safe bug spray and sunblock.
Here are some interesting websites for further information about coffee farms, agrotourism and local natural phenomena:
Read more about the history here: