Our favorite restaurant in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico quickly became the TierrAdentro Cultural Center and Cafe. As I was working on this blog post, I came upon an excellent article providing much information about the restaurant and the center's goals. I didn't know until I read the article that the cafe had been recommended as one of the top five places to eat in San Cristobal by the New York Times. Not bad! In addition to the cafe, there are Zapatista co-operatives selling art pieces and crafts in the same building.
As an aside, I knew almost nothing about the Zapatistas until we got home from this trip and I read a little. I didn't much care for history when I was in high school or college, but I'm finding it more interesting now that I'm older. Turns out that we missed a parade of Zapatista rebels in San Cristobal just a few days right after we left. That would have been a unique travel experience.
"The center buys its coffee directly from co-operatives within the Zapatista controlled areas. Its policy is to buy the best organically produced café arábigo, which is usually exported to Europe, so that it is available to local people. It also believes in paying the price asked by these co-operatives without bargaining. Within this frame of reference, it is able to offer a truly excellent double expresso at 17 pesos (just over 1 USD) and sell one kg of high quality coffee at 90 pesos. Starbucks charges 160 pesos for the same quantity and quality."