Coffee from Mexico

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Mexican coffee has been, for a long time now, an often overlooked gem. This is because it is grown on small, mountainous farms, that are mostly run by locals. Even though Mexico is more than often forgotten when listing famous coffee regions, it has rather impressive qualities. They include distinctive and fruity profiles, together with a positive social and environmental impact and a rich heritage.

The story

Coffee has found itself a home in the land of Mexico around the 1700s, thanks to Spanish settlers. The plants that started it all had their origins all the way back to Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The commercial cultivation began when German and Italian immigrants started to relocate from Guatemala and other Central American nations. Back then, coffee was cultivated on farms that were usually owned by Europeans and sustained by indigenous Mexican laborers. This happened mainly because Spanish colonialism was a big part of the land’s history. Things changed when in the early 20th century a revolution began and so did the process of changing the status quo through the agrarian land reform.

Today, things are much different. Since the last count, 85% of the producers are Mexican. In 2018-2019, an estimated number of 2.6 million 60 kg bags of coffee were exported. Even though this means less than 1% of the total global coffee exports, it still ranks the country as the ninth biggest coffee exporter worldwide.

The coffee

When you hear Mexican coffee, think about a light body and mild flavors. During the 2019 Cup of Excellence, the judges observed that the coffee grown in the Chiapas region had notes of jasmine, bergamot, lemongrass, and vanilla. Also, it was classified as generally sweet and with a buttery mouthfeel.

Approximately only 3% to 4% of the whole production is Robusta, while the rest is Arabica. The varieties include Garnica, Typica, and Bourbon. This will soon be changed due to the impact of coffee leaf rust, which pushes producers to introduce the Catimor strain. Also, 90% of the coffee is wash processed, and the remaining percentage is honey or naturally processed. Even though the differences are not big, you will be surprised to find out that the coffee grown has a wide variation in the sensory profiles. This is mostly due to the different growing regions and cultivation practices.

The main growth regions

Veracruz

The state of Veracruz is a long and thin slice of land that caresses the Gulf of Mexico. It proudly holds the title of the first place in Mexico where a coffee tree was planted, back in the 18th century. Here, the altitude goes up to 1600 meters high, a factor that contributes to the original notes found in the coffee. They include light red fruits, blueberries, caramel, and panela, brought together by a bright acidity that leaves a sweet and sour aftertaste.

Chiapas

Found on the border with Guatemala, this region has altitudes between 1300 and 1700 meters. Also, it holds the crown for the biggest producer of coffee in Mexico, providing 40% of the whole. Even though it might seem like there are many similarities between Chiapas and Veracruz, at least in terms of cultivation techniques, the coffees are actually quite different. In Chiapa, it has notes of chocolate, bitters, nuts, citrus, and lemon, all around and lasting body. This happens because of the divergent soils between the two regions.

Oaxaca

Here, the coffee farms usually sit at altitudes between 900 and 1650 meters high. Despite the two other regions, Oaxaca is the least technologically advanced one. Even so, the coffee has an exceptional taste, as it is a combination between caramel, yellow fruits, floral hints, orange acidity, and a creamy body.

We hope we were able to shine some light on this long-forgotten gem of the coffee industry. If this is your first time hearing about it, we say that you should definitely build up the courage to give it a try! You could also encourage your friends to do the same and start a Mexican coffee lovers club! After all, any type of coffee starts to taste even better when you drink it with your friends and dear ones. So, what is there to lose?