¡Viva Chiapas! ¡Viva el café!

Call me biased, but my favourite coffee is Mexican coffee. Specifically, from Chiapas.


Chiapas is a state in the south of Mexico, right in the border with Guatemala. It’s full of animals and vegetations. Its population, mostly dedicated to agriculture, includes at least twelve ethnicities, and speaks about fifty six indigenous languages. It was one of the main areas populated by Ancient Mayas, used to be part of Guatemala, and briefly declared itself an independent State before being annexed to Mexico.

Their constant struggles for independence and self-sufficiency still exist nowadays. Since 1994, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation has stood up strong against the exploitation of its land and inhabitants. Contrary to what the rest of the country were told by media, the movement has been mostly pacifist; and in an ironic and unfortunate manner, many of the violent acts during this particular struggle were perpetrated by the government.

While I support them, I cannot do much for them from here. When I went to the first Weigh In at Pogo Cafe in Hackney, I noticed they were selling small bags of Zapatista coffee. I was thrilled. Not only it was a kind of coffee that brought memories of endless afternoons writing at Mexican cafeterias powered by mug after mug and molletes or enchiladas suizas, but it was a coffee with a cause, easy to get in the United Kingdom without any of the perils of capitalist globalisation and free trade.

I emptied part of one of the bags into an old coffee jar because I'm too clumsy to handle bags.

I emptied part of one of the bags into an old coffee jar because I’m too clumsy to handle bags.

It was delicious, and it didn’t last forever. Somehow, I had to get it back. There was no way I would drink anything else. I had emergency coffee from the pound shop, but it was not enough. I tried the Colombian one from the Co-Op, but it was too burnt and strong for my taste. And there is no way I’m stepping into an overpriced Anglo-Saxon franchise. I have one literally round the corner and avoid it like the plague!

I also used the bag labels to decorate the old jar, because I'm such a git.

I also used the bag labels to decorate the old jar, because I’m such a git.

Google "Emiliano Zapata" and "Comandante Ramona". I ain't gonna school you anymore. They have their own wikipedia pages.

Google “Emiliano Zapata” and “Comandante Ramona”. I ain’t gonna school you anymore. They have their own wikipedia pages.

Fortunately, on the label of the bag I got at Pogo, it said the people in charge of selling it here were Active Distribution, a DIY non-profit anarchist organisation. They sold it not only at selected places, but online, and for the same price of that stinky supermarket coffee – or about two cups of Mermaid-Coast-RomanEmperor joe. So I ordered a couple of bags, to spend less on shipping than I would if I got them individually.

We don’t have money nor space for a coffee machine, and it would be a silly thing to get anyway because I’m the one in this house who drinks coffee. Instead, I got a cafetière – also known as a French press – for only three pounds! Yes! For the price of two Mermaid mugs!

Zapatista coffee cafetiere

Zapatista coffee cafetiere

It’s quite a zen activity to prepare coffee in a cafetière. I like doing it as part of my morning ritual. There are a couple of tutorials I have been following on the Internet. The one I mostly follow is the brewing guide at Galla Coffee. It talks about grinding your own coffee, weighing it, etc. but the coffee I get is already grounded and I don’t own a grinder nor scales. About a tablespoon or two per cup usually does it for me.

Another guide I recently discovered is a video from Howcast. It adds an extra step to the process, and sort of reminds me of the way to pour a pint of Guinness. It comes stronger and smellier, tho, so I prefer the Galla guide. However, if you are a coffee purist and you like it as bitter as a trombone, the Howcast tutorial is for you.

So this morning I toast for the taste of the past, the joys of the present, and for a better future.

BTW, those Mexican cafeteria recipes I included in the fourth paragraph are really worth trying. 😉


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