Crucero farm is located in Crucero de Zapata, a small Mexican community in the municipality of Ixhuatlán del Café, surrounded by the mountains of the Sierra Madre Oriental and overlooked by the majestic volcanic peak of Orizaba, the highest mountain in Mexico. As its name suggests, this is coffee country: the state of Veracruz in which the municipality is located is one of Mexico’s three main coffee regions.
While Crucero Farm has been in her family since the 1960s, Lilia Vidal Vargas only started running the farm as its owner in 2003. Across 9 hectares she cultivates three high quality Arabica varieties, Bourbon, Típica and Caturra, along with red banana trees for shade. Three full-time workers help with the upkeep of the farm year-round; 30 additional workers come to help harvest the ripe coffee cherries.
Discovering a new approach to farming
Lilia first became aware of the Nespresso AAA Program in 2009, after noticing that other coffee producers received a green stamp on their coffee sales slips at the central mill. Asking about its meaning, she was directed to an agronomist working with the AAA Program, who invited her to an information session explaining the responsibilities and benefits of the program. “It really interested me to learn how the program combines economic profit with environmental and social benefits,” she explains. She joined the program the next year. Since then, Lilia and her husband Sergio Salazar have made numerous changes to the farm, with the support of their workers. This includes taking more care during harvesting to pick only the best and most mature coffee cherries, carefully regulating the use of fertiliser and thoroughly cleaning used containers so they can be recycled.