Huehuetenango (often called ‘Huehue’) is located in the west of Guatemala, on the border with Mexico, and trade across the border thrives. Huehuetenango was the ancient center of the Mam people, and their capital Zaculeu is preserved in the city; Popti speakers can also be found here. After defeating the Mam at Zaculeu, Spanish invaders forced many indigenous people to work in mines and on plantations in this region.
Huehue is very remote and the roads in the region can be difficult; before flights from the city, reaching farms in this area used to take 8-10 hours of bumpy driving in the high mountains. But the altitude of this region, combined with the hot dry winds that blow over from Mexico’s Tehuantepec Plain, create excellent conditions for quality coffee here. Because of the altitudes and remoteness of the region, most farmers process their coffee at home rather than at a central wet mill.
ASODIET Cooperative was founded back in 2003 in the Todos Santos community of Huehuetenango, in the aldea or village called Tuiboch. The members are Mam Mayans, who proudly speak their indigenous language and wear a beautiful style of red and white clothing unique to their area. For many years they have been fighting for a better way to commercialise their coffee and access resources, and in 2010 ASODIET was born with that goal. The original group of 15 members grew to 55 when the association became a cooperative in 2016.
These members, including 11 women, knew that they had potential to grow outstanding coffee, but many obstacles stood in their way.
Through their cooperative, they have organised trainings and access to agricultural inputs for their farms while improving quality and productivity at the same time. ASODIET also provides microcredit to the producers to help them invest in their farms and also works outside coffee on topics like food security.
Their efforts to help and educate coffee growers don’t stop there. They have also created a small coffee roasting operation, which teaches members about coffee roasting and generates employment in the community. Their inspiring work can be perceived with exceptionally complex and clear fruit notes in the cup, showing that their efforts have paid off.