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Interpreting the Evidence

Coffee Pickers, Mexico, 1927

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Global History and Geography

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:


  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Coffee Pickers, Mexico, 1927 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Two coffee pickers carrying loads on their backs in Mexico, 1927.
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.
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.