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Coffee Pickers, Mexico, 1927

Mexico.  Man and Woman (Indians) Coffee Pickers; Fruit on Trees.  (1927)
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_13269
 
Document Description
Two coffee pickers carrying loads on their backs in Mexico, 1927.
 
Questions
What kind of trees do you think are in the photograph?
How are the coffee pickers in the photograph carrying their loads?
What do you think is the best way to transport coffee berries today?
Why do you think the man and woman in the photograph are dressed the way they are?
How is coffee harvested in Mexico today?
 
Historical Challenges
Find out about the differences between the wet and dry methods of producing coffee. Compare the end results, especially the quality of the coffee and the final costs of the coffee. What method of producing coffee is used most in Mexico?
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Using whole beans and a coffee grinder, find out the average number of beans it takes to make a cup of coffee. Calculate how many coffee beans would be necessary to make enough coffee for all the teachers in the school.
Science: Examine different types of coffee beans. Make observations based on sight, smell, etc.
English Language Arts: Create a poster based on different coffee beans. Write short explanations of how the beans are classified.
 
Resources
Goodwin, William. Mexico (Modern Nations of the World). San Diego: Lucent, 1999.
Heinrichs, Ann. Mexico (A True Book). Danbury: Children's Press, 1997.
Jermyn, Leslie, and Mary-Jo Reilly. Mexico (Cultures of the World). New York: Benchmark, 2002.
 

Historical Context
Mexico, the world's fifth largest coffee producer, has been growing coffee since the late 1700s.  Most of Mexico's coffee is grown in the southern states, especially Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Chiapas.  Today, Mexico exports a great deal of coffee, with much of it being sent to the United States.

Coffee beans are the seeds of berries that grow on coffee trees.  As the green berries ripen, they turn a dark red and look like a cherry.  Inside the coffee berry are two seeds (or beans) covered with a thin skin. There are about 4,000 beans (2,000 coffee berries) in a pound of coffee. One coffee tree yields about a pound of coffee every season. 

 
Essential Question
How does geography influence culture and economy?
 
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain the role of geography in the development of culture and economy.