Sustainable Living Incomes for Coffee producers in Uganda 

SHIFT and IINOVACAFE are partnering to transform Oaxaca's specialty coffee industry through quality, innovation and sustainable development.

Oaxaca is Mexico’s second largest coffee producing state after Chiapas, producing some of the country’s finest coffees in mountainous areas near the Pacific Ocean. Coffees such as the Pluma variety, which is only found in Oaxaca,  are primarily  grown by indigenous smallholder farmers owning plots of less than one hectare. 

With the collapse of the Mexican coffee market and unable to buy fertilisers and other inputs such as seeds and technical support, many farmers have seen a fall in productivity.  As a result, many farmers are abandoning coffee cultivation, and over the last 25 years the number of coffee producers in Oaxaca has fallen from an estimated 500 thousand households to only 150 thousand. While in the past Oaxaca produced an estimated million bags per harvest, now this figure is down to just 200 thousand bags. 

Securing the future of coffee through innovation and quality

In 2015, the owner of Finca Chelin, a local estate known for producing exceptionally high quality coffee grown on a carbon neutral farm, set up a research and innovation centre to ensure the future of the industry in the region. The Instituto de investigación, Innovación y Adaptación del Café de Oaxaca. S.C. – IINOVACAFE – today works with 16 communities across three regions of Oaxaca to help smallholder farmer improve coffee quality and yields and reinvigorate the coffee industry by promoting quality and environmental sustainability.


Through training local famers and experimenting with innovative processing methods,  the institute has quickly gained a reputation for incredible coffee.  Thirteen of the top 20 coffees in this year’s Caravela Competition finalists were supported by IINOVACAFE/Finca and the coffee has taken first place at the Best of Oaxaca cupping competition. as well as the Alliance for Coffee Excellence’s Cup of Excellence.

SHIFT and IINOVACAFE share the belief that the future of coffee production in Oaxaca depends on ensuring smallholder producers are able to make a decent living while also protecting the environment. IINOVACAFE is currently training 400 smallholder farmers in good agricultural practices and in post-harvest processing to maximise quality coffee. IINOVACAFE is also providing educational courses on coffee for young people to enable them to recognise the potential a future in coffee offers and encourage them to pursue this career path.

Fast Facts

Location: Oaxaca, Mexico.

Coffee type: Arabica and Robusta

Farmers impacted: +2,000 farmers

Featured partner

Next steps

In the coming year, SHIFT and IINOVACAFE will launch a program to revitalize Oaxaca's specialty coffee sector. The project will organize Oaxacan coffee farmers, provide them with agribusiness training and develop market access for their traceable, specialty coffee. 

Discover other SHIFT Origin Coffee Projects