The Nahua of Jalisco and hope through coffee: Organización “Color de la Tierra”

Coffee and Mojote


This place is also no secret to the more savvy Canadians and gringos who live in the Manzanillo area.  These folks make regular pilgrimages to the little store. In particular, they come to buy the organic, shade-grown, distinctively fuerte coffee that is grown here and that these women pick and process.

For those who like their coffee decaffeinated but don’t like thinking about the possible health consequences of residual methylene chloride and ethyl acetate — solvents used in making decaf — Color de Tierra offers a remarkable natural, organic substitute: Cafe de Mojote.

Cafe de Mojote is made from the nuts of the breadnut/Maya nut tree, a large tree native to the area that grows in stands along river bottoms.

The ancient Maya harvested the seeds from this tree and ate them dried or boiled in the form of a porridge or a flatbread.  There’s even evidence suggesting they planted it and even perhaps chose the location of their settlements based on whether it was present or not. Today, little cottage industries are popping up all over Latin America based on marketing flour and coffee made from the nuts of this tree.  Like with coffee, the nuts are roasted before grinding as this video from nearby Casimiro Castillo shows.

Does it taste like coffee?  I think it tastes a little different but this might just be me.  I say this because others I’ve talked to swear that it tastes just like coffee and because of the experience of a lady friend of mine. She tried the Cafe de Mojote before we knew its identity. Despite having grown up picking coffee beans, she initially didn’t believe me when I told her she really hadn’t been drinking coffee!

Even if Cafe Mojote doesn’t taste exactly like coffee to me, it still tastes good.  What’s more, it has a low glycemic index, is rich in antioxidants, and is also a notably good source of folic acid and zinc.

Finally, by buying Cafe Mojote you can help tip the balance in favor of preserving these magnificent trees.  Since few consume breadnut seeds anymore, trees are often cut down for firewood and to create pasture.  What’s more, cattle readily consume seedlings so that trees can’t replace themselves.  So, by purchasing Cafe Mojote you add value to living and reproducing forests of these trees.  Like with Brazil nuts, it’s a win-win situation for the environmentally conscious consumer.

Instructor of Tropical Rainforest and Canopy Ecology for the Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation (ITEC).