Coffee and the Recovery of Life

   ARTISTA Espresso is grown by ISMAM (Indigenous peoples of the Sierra Madres of Motozintla), a social solidarity cooperative of native Mayan farmers living in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico.  The growers are primarily from Mam, Tzetzal and Mochó peoples.  ISMAM is organized on egalitarian and democratic ideals that stress responsibility to the co-op, hard work and high standards of quality.  Their programs help the communities in many positive ways.  The ISMAM’s motto: “Conservar el suelo es recuperar la vida” which means conservation of the soil is the recovery of life, summarizes ISMAM’s peaceful involvement in the struggle for indigenous rights in Chiapas.  


Organically Grown

   The ISMAM farmers are required to provide terracing, biodynamic compost, leguminous shade trees, regenerative pruning and a seedling nursery for three years before their harvest is classified as organic.  The co-op has built more than twenty insectaries to raise beneficial insects.  The farmers use biological remedies for plant diseases of other pests.

   ISMAM’s farms, milling and transport are model organic operations.  Each sack of coffee has an “audit trail” to insure that it does not contact any chemicals in the growing, cleaning, drying, milling, bagging, transport, shipping, import customs, USDA inspections, ware-housing, roasting or packaging process.   Our supplier periodically tests the coffee after import inspection.  In many years of residue testing, no pesticides have been detected.  We feel confident stating that our coffee is free of contaminants.  


Better Beans Make Better Coffee

   Most coffee drinkers do not know that Europeans buy a higher grade of coffee than Americans.  European grade coffee beans cost more and have half the defects (2% vs. 4%) of American grade beans.  A defective bean is off color, sour, broken or the wrong size.  These bad beans burn faster then the rest of the batch, producing a bitter taste.  Coffee connoisseurs agree that European grade coffee has a richer, smoother taste, with no bitter bite.

   There are two main varieties of coffee trees, Arabica and Robusta.  Arabica beans are more flavorful and contain less caffeine than Robusta.  The best-flavored Arabica beans come from the highest altitudes (1,000 meters up to the frost zone – 1,600 meters).  ARTISTA imports only European grade, certified organic, high altitude (“altura”), Arabica beans from ISMAM, producing the best cup of coffee and espresso available.


Breaking the “Circle of Poison”

   A number of pesticides have been banned in the United States but are still used in third world countries.  Many non-organic coffee growers routinely use these poisonous chemicals.  These toxins can contaminate the coffee, the growers and the ground water where the coffee is grown.  Banned pesticides re-entering the United States have been referred to as the “circle of poison.”  By using organic farming practices, the ISMAM farmers do not support the polluting chemical industry.  “Rechazamos las technologies del muerte” We reject the technologies of death, is a slogan taken from an ISMAM banner.


Saving Migratory Songbird Habitat

   Most high yielding coffee trees are sun grown and sprayed aerially.  Such farming techniques destroy the forests, which are winter homes to millions of North American songbirds.  ISMAM preserves the jungle canopy by growing in the shade, which encourages a biological diversity of plants and animals vital to the migratory bird population.  Farmers build terraces to conserve rainwater and reduce run-off, and protect paths and creeks to prevent erosion.  


Worker Dignity

   Most coffee (including some organic coffee) is grown on large plantations with labor provided by local peasants who receive very low pay.  Mayan farmers working on their own land grow ARTISTA Espresso.  The ISMAM co-op is founded on the principals of no hired labor, the ability of landless refugees to secure land, and equal shares for each fully organic member.  ISMAM’s work has been recognized and honored internationally.


Social Responsibility

   Equality is a keystone of ISMAM’s philosophy.  Farmers are paid a higher share than farmers of commercial coffee.  Farm sizes vary between 2 and 8 acres.  The value of the work-share increases as each farm becomes fully organic and the harvest is worth more.  ISMAM has grown from 259 members to over 1,600 members in 13 years.  In order to avoid exploitation, committee and officer terms are for two years with no re-election.

   ISMAM farmers work in groups of 10 (there are no hired laborers) and participate equally in all jobs so all standards are met on each of their 10 farms.  Each group selects one representative to the co-op “congress,” who also coordinates with ISMAM’s sixteen person technical staff of member farmers who have been chosen for additional training and responsibility.


A Message from ISMAM:

   ISMAM’s mission is equally one of conserving and rebuilding the natural environment and on of working towards a higher quality of life for the indigenous Campesinos and their families.  Each purchase of ISMAM coffee helps support goals of:

ARTISTA Espresso Roast is certified organic, European grade, high altitude, shade grown, Arabica beans.  These beans are purchased exclusively under fair trade conditions from the ISMAM co-op of Chiapas, Mexico.


ARTISTA Espresso Roast is grown by Mayan descent farmers of the ISMAM co-op on their own small farms in Chiapas, Mexico.  ISMAM’s mission is one of conserving and rebuilding the natural environment and working towards a higher quality of life for indigenous workers.


Espresso is the class of roast that has brought oil to the surface of the bean.

Our espresso is slightly lighter than Italian roast, with a sheen of oil and a clean, fruity taste.  Store in an airtight container for maximum freshness.