Mexican Coffee – A variety of high-quality coffees produced in Mexico, and usually washed. Some of the best Mexican coffee comes from Oaxaca, Coatepec, and Chiapas, and small organic farms produce some of the best coffee in the country.
While high elevations are not typical, a large and thriving industry ensures a steady supply of high quality beans sorted from a greater number of commodity beans.
Agriculture makes up only about 5% of Mexico’s total GDP, but employees make up about 18% of its workforce. While those numbers aren’t impressive, Mexico is actually the 10th largest coffee producer in the world.
This delicious Mexican coffee, which often approaches or exceeds the definition of a gourmet coffee, is known to have a light body and acidity, often with a nutty flavor, perhaps with overtones of chocolate. The best Mexican coffees have a smooth body with a very pleasant sour and dry sound like white wine.
These characteristics will vary by region and the variety that grows within the region, but when looking at the market as a whole these flavors tend to show up from time to time in cupping reviews.
Keep in mind that grinding fresh whole coffee beans (preferably fresh roasted) will help you get a better feel for the flavors locked in the beans. Buying ground coffee is a surefire way to get a generic cup of unflavored coffee.
Mexican coffee is classified by altitude, and most of the country’s coffees are used for blended and/or dark roasted coffee. Coffee has been grown in Mexico since the late 1700s, and most of the country’s coffee now comes from the southern regions of the country where the continent is narrowing and turning east.
Chiapas coffee is grown in the southern state of Chiapas and is distinguished for its mild, smooth and rich taste, quick acidity with a light to medium body. The hot tropical climate has excellent growing conditions and produces fairly consistent content.
Particularly notable is Chiapas coffee which grows in the southeastern corner of the state in a mountainous area near the Guatemalan border, and is often labeled with the market name Tapachula, the name of a nearby town.
The nearby volcano has provided fertile soil that improves the delivery of nutrients to coffees, helping to develop their flavours. The delicious Chiapas coffee is said to rival the complexity and strength of finer Guatemalan coffees.
On the bay side of the mountains of central Mexico is Veracruz State where most of the coffee is grown in the lowlands and is unusual.
The nearby mountainous regions, however, produce the venerable Altura Coatepec which is named after the town of Coatepec and distinguished for its spicy taste, light body, and brightness with brown overtones.
Other respected coffees from Veracruz are Altura Huatusco, Altura Orizaba, and the most highly regarded, Altura Coatepec.
- Atzalan (1,600 meters above sea level)
- Cordoba (800 meters above sea level)
- Coatepec (1200 meters above sea level)
- Cosautlan (1200 meters above sea level)
- Huatusco (1300 meters above sea level)
- Misantla (330 meters above sea level)
- Teocelo (1200 meters above sea level)
- Tlapacoyan (450 meters above sea level)
Particularly distinguished is the coffee from the southern slopes of the central mountains in the southern state of Oaxaca which is called Oaxaca Pluma coffee and is known for its light body and light acidity.
Puebla is one of the larger states in Mexico, located just east of Mexico City.
Coffee Plant Varieties
The coffee plant varieties that grow in Mexico are mostly Bourbon (Coffea arabica var. Bourbon), Caturra (Coffea arabica var. Caturra), Maragogype (Coffea arabica var. Maragogype), and Mundo Novo (Coffea arabica var. Mundo novo).
Mexico is a member of NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement), which makes Mexican coffee brands quite well established in the United States and Canada.
However, when it comes to freshness and quality, your best bet is to buy from a local roaster who buys green coffee beans and roasts them themselves. Once roasted, coffee quickly begins to lose its flavor much of which is lost within a few weeks of roasting whole coffee beans (if stored properly).
If the coffee is ground, this timeframe drops to days. Most coffees on grocery store shelves spend weeks going through the supply and distribution chain, leaving you with relatively bland coffee.
No matter how “premium” or “high quality” a package retail store claims their coffee is, it will pale in comparison to a freshly roasted mid-range coffee.
This Oregon-based brand has a bit of a fun pun (Acapella) and features Altura Prima seeds.
Simpatico Coffee (based in Michigan) features Mexican coffee which is touted as having a low acid quality, a plus for those with acid reflux. While most lowland Mexican coffees will have a lower acidity than their sibling, the fact that they are dark roasted means they are less acidic than when roasted medium.
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