A note from Mayra:
One of my dreams is to see more people from origin working on the other side of the supply chain. People who were raised in coffee communities are often the best advocates for their coffee once it arrives in the United States. I am pleased to interview Rosalba Cifuentes Tovia, who established an export/import company called Mayan Harvest as a way to advocate for her community in Mexico and earn recognition for the coffee it produces. Special thanks to Fernando Diaz and Mariana Faerron Gutierrez for being part of her journey and helping to grow the community of origin throughout the supply chain.
Please introduce yourself and provide a brief description of how you started working in coffee.
I was born in Tapachula, Mexico and raised between Tapachula and Bella Vista. My mother comes from a large family from Bella Vista, a municipality in the state of Chiapas. Now I live in Oakland, and started my path in coffee in the United States when I met Mariana Faerron Gutierrez from Tico Roasters. She recommended that speak with the Mexican consulate about helping me promote my coffee. I took her advice and I received a lot of help with translations, visits to roasters, and cafes through ProMexico. This is how I met Fernando Diaz, a young entrepreneur and owner of Proyecto Diaz. I learned about his work marketing specialty coffee. Fernando is the person who sent me to visit Royal Coffee.
What is your favorite part about harvesting coffee?
During the coffee cultivation and harvest months, I got to live in Bella Vista for 4 to 5 months, and I enjoy the life of the community and working as part of a team. I was raised with coffee cultivation and during the harvest my uncles, cousins and neighbors participated in the operation of the Mayan Harvest. My nephew Alexis manages the Mayan Harvest operations and my dream has been to help him so that he can learn to cup coffee.
How has business changed over the years?
Traditionally Mexican coffee has been used as a blender. It is cheap, and not on the menus at cafes. It surprised me that Mexican coffee was not considered special or appreciated. My goal is to change the opinions that coffee buyers and consumers have.
Describe the successes and challenges you have experienced from working in the specialty Coffee
I live in Oakland and have the advantage of meeting and visiting roasters that are buying our coffee. When I visit they normally ask me where the farms are located and also ask for samples. The disappointment that I encounter sometimes is that after I provide a sample they don’t respond to my email. This causes stress and worry because we don’t know if we will be able to sell the coffee.
What are your long-term goals as a coffee producer for Mayan Harvest?
I would like there to be more recognition for Mexican coffee. The specialty coffee industry has no idea what it costs to produce and move specialty coffee. I would also like to expand the infrastructure of our operation in Bella Vista and open more opportunities for work for women.
What is the most expensive part of coffee production?
In my experience, the most expensive part of the operation is paying workers from December to March and the cost for shipping the coffee to the United States.
What would you like roasters and consumers to know about your coffee?
That it takes a lot of physical effort to maintain clean operation and as a result our clients receive an excellent Mexican coffee.
How do producers get information about the international market price of coffee?
Producers have applications on their phones to verify the market price of coffee. They verify the price before they sell to us.
How is climate change influencing the coffee production in Bella Vista?
Climate change continues to have an impact and better coffee prices help producers improve their farm management.
Anything else you would like to share?
Mayan Harvest works with producers who are family and neighbors in Bella Vista, and our coffee is now available for you at Royal. Mexico Chiapas Bella Vista Mayan Harvest