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Our Story

Since 1990, our family has worked in partnership with indigenous Mayan farmer cooperatives to import 100% organic, shade-grown arabica coffee from the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico–the land of the ancient and modern Maya.

Our gently roasted coffee beans are grown using traditional principles of organic farming, enabling landowners to sustain and replenish their grounds for future generations while helping promote conservation of natural resources.

We work directly with small independently owned cooperatives in a continued effort to support our partners in becoming a viable economic force within their communities. “Oportunidades para las Americas” or Opportunities for the Americas is the guiding principle that has led Ruta Maya Coffee from vision to reality and continues to push our message forward after two decades. 

 

Best Practices

 

  • Coffee Arabica: Coffee Arabica’s smooth flavor and low acidity content makes it our preferred crop. Grown best at high elevations, harsher climate conditions translate to slower growth, producing more refined flavors once its beans are processed, roasted, and ground.

  • Organic: Ruta Maya Coffee is free of all chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. The absence of DDT, marathon, and benzene hexachloride in growing and production means cleaner beans, air, land, and water.

  • Shade-grown: Shade-grown coffee matures slowly, developing natural sugars and enhanced flavor profiles in the process. Shade-grown coffee fields also provide a home for many species of birds and butterflies, filter carbon dioxide linked to global warming, and help retain soil moisture to minimize land erosion.

    • Volcanic Soil: The combination of high altitude, mineral-rich soil, and tropical climate creates the grounds necessary for superior coffee growth. 

    • Rotated Crop: Our coffee is regularly rotated with other crops to avoid soil depletion. Keeping fields fertile for new crop production allows farmers to avoid cutting down trees to clear new land, helping preserve the ecosystem. These small, family-owned farms also benefit economically from secondary harvests.

    • Hand-Picked: We hand pick our coffee to ensure that only the ripest cherries are harvested, leaving unripe fruit on the tree to be picked later. Harvested cherries are sorted after picking to further prevent unripe beans from ending up in your cup.

    • Small-Batch Roasted: Roasting in small batches gives us the opportunity to closely monitor beans for quality and roasting variables, easily spot defects, and continuously produce the freshest coffee possible.

    • Air Cooled: Freshly roasted coffee requires substantial cooling time before going to packaging. To the coffee’s detriment, many commercial roasters pour water on their beans to speed up this process. As the beans soak up water, they go up in weight and down in quality. Unlike these large roasters, we sacrifice time for quality and let the coffee breathe as needed.

    • Decaf - The Swiss Water Process: We work with Swiss Water to create decaf coffee that’s 99.9% caffeine free and full of flavor. Pioneered in Switzerland in 1933, the Swiss Water Process favors nature’s elements of water, temperature, and time over chemical extractions leaving our decaffeinated beans (almost) as pure as they started.  

    • Ruta Maya Traded: Our beans are purchased directly from family-owned Mayan coffee cooperatives, rather than from third-party importers or exporters. By paying higher prices than those offered on the commodities market, Ruta Maya makes a difference in the lives of the farmers in Mexico and offers American consumers an opportunity to make a difference in the world economy.

     

    Community

     

    We’ve been advocates of supporting community events and goodwill initiatives since the beginning. Whether it be on behalf of the arts, education, or the environment, we’re committed to giving back to those making positive contributions to the world around us.

     

     

    Our Partners

    The Mesoamerica Center

    Our partnership with The Mesoamerica Center, housed in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin, promotes scholarship, learning, and sustainability in the Mesoamerica region. Ruta Maya is a proud partial underwriter of the Mesoamerica Meetings, an annual symposium that brings together Mayan scholars and interested individuals from all corners of the globe to explore the richness of Mesoamerican art, archaeology, writing, and other aspects of cultural heritage. 

    We also support programs at Casa Herrera, an academic research facility located in the heart of Antigua, Guatemala. Now in its fourth running year, The University of Texas’ Ruta Maya Coffee Scholarship gives college students the opportunity to study abroad with the Bridging Cultures in Latin America Program led by the Mesoamerica Center in Guatemala and Belize. 

     

    Casa Herrera in Antigua, Guatemala. Photo courtesy of the Mesoamerica Center.

     

    The Shark Research & Conservation Program

    Directed by Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, the Shark Research & Conservation Program (SRC) at the University of Miami conducts cutting-edge science to save the ocean’s apex predators and subsequently restore ecosystem function in a human-altered world. SRC research and outreach is focused on understanding and creating solutions for human threats such as climate change, exploitation and habitat loss on sharks and their ecosystems.

    Ruta Maya is supporting SRC in furthering mutual goals of environmental research and education. We adopted our own shark in Summer of 2018, continuing SRC’s satellite tracking study of this deeply misunderstood oceanic species- many populations of which are in great decline and need immediate scientific and conservation attention. Our contributions will also help advance SRC’s efforts in educating the next generation of environmentally conscious leaders, providing more than 1,000 school children each year with hands-on scientific field experience in shark research.

     

    Shark Research
    Ruta Maya Shark Tagging Trip, 2018. ©Josh Liberman, SharkTagging.com

     

    Community Engagement

    We're proud to have worked with the following: Austin Pets Alive, CASA of Travis County, Pancreatic Cancer Awareness, The National Wildlife Federation, Austin Earth Day Festival, East Austin Studio Tours, Mexic-Arte Museum, Austin Film Festival, The Mesoamerica Meetings, Utopia Fest, Yellow Bike Project, Latinitas Austin Art Walk, Austin Food and Wine Society, Kerrville Folk Festival, San Antonio Zoo, Voltage Control, and more. 

     

    Special Recognition

    Ruta Maya’s former Austin-based brick and mortar, Ruta Maya Coffee House, was included in the list of top ten coffee bars in the United States by premier national publication Food & Wine Magazine in March of 2006. Food & Wine editors spent 410 man-hours tasting 157 gourmet coffees to find the best of the best. Ruta Maya was only one of two coffee bars in all of the southern states to be chosen.