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Mexico

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Mexico Chiapas WP Decaf

This coffee was an impressive decaf on the cupping table, but we don't know a lot about it's origin. While we prefer to know the origin of our coffees, or arrange direct purchasing, we are definitely not above buying a coffee that cups well, even if we don't know everything about it. It's supposed to be about cup quality, in the end. Anyway, this is from the southernmost region of Mexico, Chiapas, but the cup has a nice brightness that has hints of Guatemala coffee. It makes sense since Chiapas borders the Guatemala state of Huehuetenango. This coffee originates from a pooled wet-process lot and is then decaffeinated using the water process method in Mexico.

The dry fragrance and wet aromatics are mildly fruited, with suggestions of toffee and raw honey. There's a bit of that typical "decafy" aroma, but it's rather sweet and pleasant. This was a standout in cupping (on a large table of decafs), with a very clean, crisp, bright note in the cup, hinting at its origin as a very high-grown Chiapas. There is an apple fruit note in the cup at City+ roast level, and some mild nut flavors, with a brown sugar finish. The body is surprisingly thick and syrupy when the coffee is rested 24+ hours after roasting. That's pretty much in line with non-decaf Chiapas coffees. This also does quite well with a Full City + or even a light Vienna roast treatment, turning sweetly pungent at the darker levels. Mild, balanced, drinkable ... it's a nice decaf.





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Ripe coffee cherry on the branch, Mexico
Country: Mexico
Grade: HG
Region: Chiapas
Processing: Wet Process, then WP decaf
Arrival Date: June 2011 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17 screen
Varietal: Catuai, Caturra, Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Roast taste, firm acidity, nuanced cup
Roast: I had very good roasts at City+ to Full City; The body is nice at all roast stages; the roast flavors at Vienna are pleasantly carbony and sharp.
Compare to: A crisp, clean Chiapas cup profile in decaf form.
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Mexico Organic Chiapas Proish Coop

Chiapas is the southernmost state in Mexico, at the Guatemalan border. The coffees are distinct from the Oaxaca Plumas and Coatepec coffees: they are a little brighter, sweeter, and bear some resemblance to the Huehuetenango coffees of Guatemala. In fact, in this year of a high and unstable market price for coffee, much Huehue coffee has been smuggled across the border to Mexico and sold as Mexican coffee, reversing a long trend in the other direction. Oaxaca is my other favorite Mexican origin, but the really good Chiapas coffees like this one have been consistently excellent, and offer a brighter and livelier cup. Many of the coffees from Chiapas are from small farms, cooperatively wet-milled and sold. We have offered the UDEPOM coop Chiapas for years. (UDEPOM, PROISH ... not the greatest names in the world. It's not the oddest coop name I have heard, or longest (Fedecocagua is up there for that award). Anyway, this Proish organic-certified Chiapas landed on the cupping table, and it was classic Chiapas cup character, and much more uniform in the roast than other Mexico coffees I have looked at this year.

This cup has a very attractive, clean-fruited character from start to finish. In the dry fragrance, there is a mild cherry-vanilla and hint of coffee flower scent, along with hazelnut roast tones (C+ roast). Adding the hot water to brew, wet aromatics reveal caramel and cane sugar with a touch of peach and nut. In the cup the fruit has ample stone fruit characteristics (peach and apricot), malic sweetness, nutty roast tones (C+ roast) and medium body. It's a mild cup overall, lightly fruited, very refined overall. The aftertaste is slightly drying, but sweet and pleasant. (Note: We have found some more defect beans than expected in some bags of the Proish. The cup is still very nice if you remove the part-black and black beans before roasting. It's disappointing to have bag-to-bag inconsistency, but not unexpected for a Organic cooperative coffee from South Mexico. -Tom)





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Coffee pulp being dried in Mexico.
Country: Mexico
Grade: Alturra
Region: Chiapas
Processing: Wet-processed
Arrival Date: May 2011 Arrival
Appearance: 2.2 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen
Varietal: Mostly Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Sweetness, light body,
Roast: Takes a wide range of roasts from City+ to Full City to Full City+.
Compare to: A sweet and simple cup with interesting nut, chocolate and fruit aspects
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Mexico Chiapas La Concordia Custepec

Custepec is a single farm and town on the edge of El Triunfo ecologic reserve in the Sierra Madre del Sur of Chiapas state. This is an old and traditional Finca dating back to 1911, and still in the ownership of the Pohlenz family. Most of the coffee comes from an area of the farm ranging from 1100 to 1400 meters. The coffee is grown under shade and half of the total farm area preserved as virgin forest. It's a nice mild coffee, and well-prepared compared to the cooperative lots from Chiapas I have cupped so far this season.

The lightest roasts of La Concordia Custepec are sweet and bright, even though I prefer darker roast levels overall here; Full City+ or more. The dry fragrance has a vanilla and hazelnut scent, with the addition of a cedar note in the wet aroma. The cup has a pleasantly soft and mild character. Moderate brightness elevates the almondy roast tone at City+ roast level. I recommend a slightly darker level of roast, Full City+, where the cup has a tangy bittersweetness, with cola and dark caramel. It's a fairly light-bodied coffee, and not too complex, but a crowd-pleaser for sure.





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Historic photo of a Chiapas coffee patio from the late 19th c.
Country: Mexico
Grade: SHG, "Custepec Superior 17/18"
Region: La Concordia, Chiapas, S. Mexico
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: Late April 2011 Arrival
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Mostly Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Mild flavors, light body, balanced brightness
Roast: See review notes. City+ is recommended as the lightest level. Full City+ brings out a tangy bittersweet quality
Compare to: A simple cup with interesting nut and chocolate aspects
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Mexico FTO Chiapas- Reserva El Triunfo

El Triunfo is located in the Sierra Madre del Sur and is a large ecologic reserve. It represents a critical area for biodiversity and water resources, but is known mostly as the last and largest contiguous cloud forest habitats in Mexico. At last count 12,000 people, mostly indigenous live within the reserve and coffee farming has provided an economic source that can exist in some degree of harmony with maintaining the ecology. Conservation International has taken a lead to make sure the coffee exported with the name El Triunfo comes from registered coops in the area, including the producer of this lot, Union Ramal Santa Cruz. To maintain their status a coop must have a yearly inspection, accepting recommendations to maintain forest shade over the coffee plantings, and process the coffee without contaminating the watershed. I have had a lot of trouble finding Mexican coffees that are of a quality worth offering alongside our great Central American lots. Mexico suffers from lower altitudes, spotty wet-processing and drying methods, and difficulties to ship coffees promptly. A great wet-processed Mexican coffee is a mild affair, light in body, with clean acidic brightness. But so many I cup have high defect counts in the green coffee, and off taints in the cup favors. I understand that all the coffees from the El Triunfo reserve are not that well-picked and processed, but I was happy to find this lot. I feel it shows what a really nice Chiapas region coffee can be, a great exemplar for this particular region.

The lightest roasts of El Triunfo were clean and bright, but had a green taste I can only describe as fresh-cut grass. At City+ roast this turned to a clean, lightly fruited brightness, so I recommend at least C+ roast on this coffee. The dry fragrance has a crisp caramel scent, with a trace of red apple. Wet aroma is nutty, with the scent of bread in the oven, honey-vanilla, and just a little maple and apple. The cup has a mild and delicate acidity that gives a sense of refreshing brightness, but low in intensity. There's a grainy sweetness in this coffee; light roasts have a bit of toasted oats flavor. Darker roasts have a aromatic wood note, a bit less sweetness, but greater body. It's a mild coffee, short-lived on the palate, but zesty nonetheless: Simple, sweet, mildly bright.





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The famously important quetzal, in Mexico found only in Reserva Ecologica El Triunfo
Country: Mexico
Grade: Altura, Euro Prep
Region: Jaltenango, Chiapas
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen
Varietal: Mostly Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Sweetness, light body, clean bright note.
Roast: See review notes. City+ is recommended as the lightest level, since City roast had a green grass flavor. Full City roast has best balance.
Compare to: A bright, sweet and simple cup with interesting nut, chocolate and fruit aspects
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Mexico Oaxaca Pluma WP Decaf

Along with the really good, small-farm coffees from Chiapas, Oaxaca coffees are my right up there. Too bad we have had such trouble finding them, at least ones of decent quality from small coop or estate producers. This coffee originates from Beneficio Calvo lot from Pochutla are of the Oaxaca state. It was then decaffeinated using the water process method in Mexico. And I was excited when I cupped this coffee … even if a big decaf cupping is not always my favorite table of samples to evaluate. It was the best coffee on the table at light roast levels, City to City+. This was a real standout, with a very balanced, clean cup, mild milk chocolate notes, and a modicum of brightness. The dry fragrance is nutty and malty-sweet, while the wet aroma had a slight lemon and vanilla scent. It was the nuances in the cup that I rarely find in decafs, and especially a suggestion of citrus brightness in the finish at C+ roast .... The roast taste at a City+ roast is excellent; vanilla with a bit of almond nuttiness, and the brightness in the cup is there too, hinting at its origin as a true high-grown Oaxaca Pluma. This also does quite well with a Full City + or light Vienna roast treatment, turning sweetly pungent at the darker levels, but I will stick to light roasts here. Mild, balanced, drinkable, not a coffee you need to think about a whole lot. I kinda like that!





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A meeting we had with Mexican producers a while back. They are voting who should go out to pick up the pizza...
Country: Mexico
Grade: HG
Region: Oaxaca
Processing: Wet Process, then Wp decaf
Arrival Date: Late Feb 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17 screen
Varietal: Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Roast taste, firm acidity, nuanced cup
Roast: I had very good roasts at City to City+. The body is light at all roast stages.
Compare to: A balanced Oaxaca cup profile in decaf form.
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Mexico Organic Santa Cruz WP Decaf

This is a very nice lot from the Sierra Madre range in south Mexico. Union Ramal Santa Cruz is a cooperative in the Chiapas state, near the cities of Tuxtla and Chiapa de Corzo. Along with Oaxaca coffees, Chiapas are my favorite. They feature a more dynamic brightness in the cup, a lively coffee. It makes sense since Chiapas borders the Guatemala state of Huehuetenango. This coffee originates from a cooperative lot and is then decaffeinated using the water process method in Mexico. And I was pleased when I cupped this coffee … even if a big decaf cupping is not always my favorite table of samples to evaluate. The dry fragrance and wet aromatics are mildly fruited, with suggestions of toffee and raw honey. This was a real standout in cupping (on a large table of decafs), with a very clean, crisp, bright note in the cup, hinting at its origin as a true high-grown Chiapas. There is an apple fruit note in the cup at City+ roast level, and some mild nut flavors, with a brown sugar finish. The body is moderate, not thin, but also not heavy on the palate. That's pretty much in line with non-decaf Chiapas coffees. This also does quite well with a Full City + or even a light Vienna roast treatment, turning sweetly pungent at the darker levels. Mild, balanced, drinkable ...and certified Organic to boot.





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Ripe coffee cherry on the branch, Mexico
Country: Mexico
Grade: HG
Region: Santa Cruz, Chiapas
Processing: Wet Process, then WP decaf
Arrival Date: November 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17 screen
Varietal: Catuai, Caturra, Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Roast taste, firm acidity, nuanced cup
Roast: I had very good roasts at City+ to Full City; The body is light at all roast stages; the roast flavors at Vienna are pleasantly carbony and sharp.
Compare to: A crisp, bright Chiapas cup profile in decaf form.
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Mexico FTO Santa Cruz WP Decaf

This is a very nice lot from the Sierra Madre range in south Mexico. Union Ramal Santa Cruz is a cooperative in the Chiapas state, near the cities of Tuxtla and Chiapa de Corzo. Along with Oaxaca coffees, Chiapas are my favorite. They feature a more dynamic brightness in the cup, a lively coffee. It makes sense since Chiapas borders the Guatemala state of Huehuetenango. This coffee originates from a cooperative lot and is then decaffeinated using the water process method in Mexico. And I was pleased when I cupped this coffee … even if a big decaf cupping is not always my favorite table of samples to evaluate. The dry fragrance and wet aromatics are mildly fruited, with suggestions of toffee and raw honey. This was a real standout in cupping (on a large table of decafs), with a very clean, crisp, bright note in the cup, hinting at its origin as a true high-grown Chiapas. There is an apple fruit note in the cup at City+ roast level, and some mild nut flavors, with a brown sugar finish. The body is moderate, not thin, but also not heavy on the palate. That's pretty much in line with non-decaf Chiapas coffees. This also does quite well with a Full City + or even a light Vienna roast treatment, turning sweetly pungent at the darker levels. Mild, balanced, drinkable ...and certified Organic and Fair Trade to boot.





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Ripe coffee cherry on the branch, Mexico
Country: Mexico
Grade: HG
Region: Santa Cruz, Chiapas
Processing: Wet Process, then WP decaf
Arrival Date: August 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17 screen
Varietal: Catuai, Caturra, Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Roast taste, firm acidity, nuanced cup
Roast: I had very good roasts at City+ to Full City; The body is light at all roast stages; the roast flavors at Vienna are pleasantly carbony and sharp.
Compare to: A crisp, bright Chiapas cup profile in decaf form.
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Mexico Organic Nayarit Dry-Process

This lot is quite unusual, not because of the region it is from or the fact it arrives later in the season than other Mexican lots. It's unusual because it is a full natural, dry-process coffee from Mexico. Actually, dry-process Mexico coffees can be found in many small markets across Mexico, since it is the cheapest way to process coffee. And those can be some of the nastiest Mexican coffees you have ever tasted, full of defect black beans, rotted fruit fermented flavors, phenolic fungus taste. Ironically, dry-process coffee, done right, is much more difficult and more costly that a more technified wet-process lot. To do it right, you need to pick ripe red coffee cherry, quickly and carefully dry it in the husk, remove that peel, and then hand-sort defective beans, requiring many hours of labor. Wet-process removes defects with machines ... under-ripe cherries float, other defects are removed on the gravity separator and screening machines. To make a really good dry-process it is all done manually, by highly experienced people. Anyway, the coffee is from the same location as the Terruno Wet-Process from earlier in the season. It is from the state of Nayarit, more specifically, west of the capital, Tepic. The 260 small-holder farms in this group are clustered around Cerro San Juan, an extinct volcano, so the soil type and altitude contribute to the cup quality. Nayarit is fairly low (the city of Tepic is 3000 feet) but the volcano immediately rises to 7000 feet, providing sloped terrain with good altitude, drainage and climate for the coffee. The aromatics of this coffee are much closer to a dry-processed Ethiopia than to any other Central America coffee; intense, rustic fruited notes, spice, and caramel sweetness. It's winey in the extreme, almost headed in the direction of oxidized wine (ie. getting vinegary!) ... but thankfully it's not. There's a hint of sourdough yeast (!) in the dry fragrance, but it is dominated by cocoa, fruit and a hint of shredded sweet coconut in the lighter roasts, with darker roasts having chocolate and pungent spicy scents. The cup, especially at the darker roast levels I prefer here, has a heavy chocolate character with traces of almond and (of course) a strongly fruited backdrop. Lighter roasts have an apricot brandy flavor, and fresh almond roast tone. At both levels, the body is dense and opaque; the aftertaste is extremely long. It's quite intense, and perhaps a shock when cupped side-by-side with other Mexican coffees of the wet-process variety. It has sweetness, but of such a funky type it is hard to score as such, a deep fruity sweetness that nears wine-like character. Unlike other natural coffees, I think this coffee is limited in its espresso use, except as a component in a blend less than 20%.





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Ripe cherries on the patio in Mexico, ready to dry for our Nayarit lot.
Country: Mexico
Grade: Alturra
Region: Nayarit
Processing: Dry-processed
Arrival Date: August 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17 Screen
Varietal: Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Heavy body, chocolate, fruity/winey notes and almond
Roast: Full City to Full City+ to Vienna.
Compare to: Ethiopia dry-process Sidamo coffees in terms of fruited character and body, Brazil dry-process in terms of body and chocolate.
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Mexico Organic Chiapas Proish Coop 2009

Chiapas is the southernmost state in Mexico, at the Guatemalan border. The coffees are distinct from the Oaxaca Plumas and Coatepec coffees: they are a little brighter, sweeter, and bear some resemblance to the Huehuetenango coffees of Guatemala. In fact, in this year of a high and unstable market price for coffee, much Huehue coffee has been smuggled across the border to Mexico and sold as Mexican coffee, reversing a long trend in the other direction. Oaxaca is my other favorite Mexican origin, but the really good Chiapas coffees like this one have been consistently excellent, and offer a brighter and livelier cup. Many of the coffees from Chiapas are from small farms, cooperatively wet-milled and sold. We have offered the UDEPOM coop Chiapas for years. (UDEPOM, PROISH ... not the greatest names in the world. It's not the oddest coop name I have heard, or longest (Fedecocagua is up there for that award). But besides an early lot we had this season, the quality was up and down. So we looked around and this Proish organic-certified Chiapas landed on the cupping table, and it was classic Chiapas cup character. In fact, this is the first time we have selected a Proish Coop coffee in blind cupping, mainly because it is the first time it has broken the 84 point ceiling on the cupping table.

This cup has a very attractive, clean fruited character from start to finish. In the dry fragrance, there is a mild cherry-vanilla and hint of coffee flower scent, along with hazelnut roast tones (C+ roast). Adding the hot water to brew, wet aromatics reveal sweet caramel tones and cane sugar with a touch of peach. In the cup the fruit has ample stone fruit characteristics (peach and apricot), malic sweetness, nutty roast tones (C+ roast) and medium body. It's a mild cup overall, lightly fruited, very refined overall.





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Coffee cherry, ready for harvest, Mexico.
Country: Mexico
Grade: Alturra
Region: Chiapas
Processing: Wet-processed
Arrival Date: June 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen
Varietal: Mostly Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Sweetness, light body,
Roast: Takes a wide range of roasts from City+ to Full City to Full City+.
Compare to: A sweet and simple cup with interesting nut, chocolate and fruit aspects
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Mexico Oaxaca Pluma WP Decaf

Along with the really good, small-farm coffees from Chiapas, Oaxaca coffees are my favorite. Too bad we have had such trouble finding them, at least ones of decent quality from small coop or estate producers. This coffee originates from Beneficio Calvo lot from Pochutla are of the Oaxaca state. It was then decaffeinated using the water process method in Mexico. And I was excited when I cupped this coffee … even if a big decaf cupping is not always my favorite table of samples to evaluate. It was the best coffee on the table at light roast levels, City to City+. This was a real standout, with a very balanced, clean cup, mild milk chocolate notes, and a modicum of brightness. The dry fragrance is nutty and malty-sweet, while the wet aroma had a slight lemon and vanilla scent. It was the nuances in the cup that I rarely find in decafs, and especially a suggestion of citrus brightness in the finish at C+ roast .... The roast taste at a City+ roast is excellent; vanilla with a bit of almond nuttiness, and the brightness in the cup is there too, hinting at its origin as a true high-grown Oaxaca Pluma. This also does quite well with a Full City + or light Vienna roast treatment, turning sweetly pungent at the darker levels, but I will stick to light roasts here. Mild, balanced, drinkable.





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Coffee nursery in Mexico with cloth strips to scare birds off.
Country: Mexico
Grade: HG
Region: Oaxaca
Processing: Wet Process, then Wp decaf
Arrival Date: June 2009 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 screen
Varietal: Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Roast taste, firm acidity, nuanced cup
Roast: I had very good roasts at City to City+. The body is light at all roast stages.
Compare to: A balanced Oaxaca cup profile in decaf form.
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Mexico FTO Chiapas - La Union Coop

We have bought from this cooperative for 10 years now, including "Rebuild Chiapas" lots in the past where we paid a premium to help with hurricane recovery projects around Motozintla, where the headquarters for the coop are. Last year, I visited to try to seek out particular communities of farmers that might have coffee with unique cup character, despite the fact the co-op operates by pooling coffees into bulk lots from a wide range of farmer-groups. They agreed to produce some micro-regional lots, but frankly the results were just average. It proved to me that I can't take a cookie-cutter approach in dealing with producers, constantly preaching the benefits of separating micro-lots in search of cup quality, with a 2x or 3x premium for resulting coffees. It just may not work everywhere in terms of better cup quality or in the co-ops economic self-interest. So I went back to cupping all their pooled lots and I definitely feel the quality of the larger mixed lots is better than any micro-lot samples! I came up with this great coffee which has Fair Trade and Organic cert.s to boot. I like FTO from Mexico in particular - I think it's one of the origins where it matters most, whereas our base prices paid to farms in other areas far exceeds FT pricing, especially in our Farm Gate, direct trade lots. Immediately this lot jumped out at me for the fruited not in the dry fragrance, suggesting banana, married to nice cocoa with nuts. Not a bad start. I find a lot of sweetness in the wet aroma, syrupy, with praline character. The cup is mild, as Chiapas is bound to be, with fairly light body. But this year (a small crop in general) has really nice, brisk acidity with a lemony aspect. It has this same, sweetness as the aromatics, mildly rustic, like raw brown sugar. In fact, this reminds me of the traditional Mexican cone-shaped sugar cakes, Panela, in the aftertaste. There's a caramel apple quality in the cup, which has moderate brightness and is fairly short in the aftertaste. It's a simple cup perhaps, but what a nice antidote to over-the-top Yemens and Kenyas and such! It's drinkin' coffee.





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Country: Mexico
Grade: Alturra
Region: Chiapas
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: June 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen
Varietal: Mostly Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Sweetness, light body,
Roast: Takes a wide range of roasts from City+ to Full City to Full City+.
Compare to: A sweet and simple cup with interesting nut, chocolate and fruit aspects
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Mexico Organic Dry-Process Nayarit Rustico

This lot is quite unusual, not because of the region it is from or the fact it arrives late in the Central America season. It's unusual because it is a full natural, dry-process coffee from Mexico. Actually, dry-process Mexico coffees can be found in many small markets across Mexico, since it is the cheapest way to process coffee. And those can be some of the nastiest Mexican coffees you have ever tasted, full of defect black beans, rotted fruit fermented flavors, phenolic fungus taste. Ironically, dry-process coffee, done right, is much more difficult and more costly that a more technified wet-process lot. To do it right, you need to pick ripe red coffee cherry, quickly and carefully dry it in the husk, remove that peel, and then hand-sort defective beans, requiring many hours of labor. Wet-process removes defects with machines ... under-ripe cherries float, other defects are removed on the gravity separator and screening machines. To make a really good dry-process it is all done manually, by highly experienced people. Anyway, the coffee is from the same location as the Terruno Wet-Process from earlier in the season. It is from the state of Nayarit, more specifically, west of the capital, Tepic. The 260 small-holder farms in this group are clustered around Cerro San Juan, an extinct volcano, so the soil type and altitude contribute to the cup quality. Nayarit is fairly low (the city of Tepic is 3000 feet) but the volcano immediately rises to 7000 feet, providing sloped t errain with good altitude, drainage and climate for the coffee. The aromtatics of this coffee are much closer to a dry-processed Ethiopia than to any other Central America coffee; intense, rustic fruited notes, spice, and caramel sweetness. The cup, especially at the darker roast levels I prefer here, has a heavy chocolate character with traces of almond. It doesn't have great dimension, but is so intense in this chocolate aspect, it makes up for it. The dry-process seems to make the coffee have lower acidity than it's wet-process counterpart and a LOT more body. It has very heavy, oily, thick body.





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Country: Mexico
Grade: Alturra
Region: Nayarit
Processing: Dry Process
Arrival Date: January 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17 Screen
Varietal: Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Heavy body, chocolate, and almond
Roast: Full City to Full City+ to Vienna.
Compare to: Ethiopia dry-process Sidamo coffees in terms of fruited character and body, Brazil dry-process in terms of body and chocolate. Be sure you like dry-processed type coffees before considering this lot.
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Mexico FTO ISMAM Chiapas

Chiapas is the southernmost state in Mexico, at the Guatemalan border. The coffees are distinct from the Oaxaca Plumas and Coatepec coffees: they are a little brighter, sweeter, and bear some resemblance to the Huehuetenango coffees of Guatemala. Oaxaca is my other favorite Mexican origin, but the really good Chiapas coffees like this one have been consistently excellent; a brighter and livelier cup. Many of the coffees from Chiapas are from small farms, cooperatively wet-milled and sold. We have offered the UDEPOM coop Chiapas for years. (UDEPOM, PROISH ... not the greatest names in the world). Here's another contender, ISMAM: Indigenas de la Sierra Madre de Motozintla. The cooperative has members from 100 small communities rannging from 1100-1600 meters for their arabica coffees, and approximately 8,000 family members benefit from the organization’s existence at this writing. This is one of the earlier arrivals for '09 new crop, and sometimes I am wary about early shipments. But I found a classic Chiapas flavor profile in this cup; snappy brightness, clean, sweet, simple and straightforward. The dry fragrance has a praline nut quality, honey and "biscuit malt" syrup sweetness. The wet aroma has the same light malt syrup tone, with the addition of a bit of orange peel. I preferred lighter roasts with this coffee, but found the FC and FC+ roasts had pleasant bittersweet tang to them. But City roast was really sweet, caramelly, and the body, while very light, suited the bright cup character well. There's a toffee-like nut flavor, and orangey brightness. It's no Grand Cru coffee, not super complex, but a very attractive, sweet, simple cup that provides respite from the more exotic and high-intensity cups ...Yemeni coffees, DP Ethiopias, Kenyas, and their ilk.





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From my last trip to Motozintla, a civic painting.
Country: Mexico
Grade: Alturra
Region: Chiapas
Processing: Wet-processed
Arrival Date: March 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen
Varietal: Mostly Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Sweetness, light body, praline-toffee, orange hint
Roast: Takes a wide range of roasts from City to Full City to Full City+. I preferred the lively, sweet, simple character of the lighter City roast.
Compare to: A sweet and simple cup with enjoyable bright character.
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Mexico Organic Oaxaca WP Decaf

Along with the really good, small-farm coffees from Chiapas, Oaxaca coffees are my favorite. This coffee originates from a cooperative lot from Mexico's Oaxacan state, and is then decaffeinated using the water process method in Mexico. And I was excited when I cupped this coffee … even if a big decaf cupping is not always my favorite table of samples to evaluate. This was a real standout, with a very balanced, clean cup, mild milk chocolate notes, and a modicum of brightness. It was the nuances in the cup that I rarely find in decafs, and especially a suggestion of citrus brightness in the finish at C+ roast .... The roast taste at a City+ roast is excellent; vanilla with a bit of almond nuttiness, and the brightness in the cup is there too, hinting at its origin as a true high-grown Chiapas. This also does quite well with a Full City + or light Vienna roast treatment, turning sweetly pungent at the darker levels. Mild, balanced, drinkable. And certified Organic to boot.





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Country: Mexico
Grade: HG
Region: Oaxaca
Processing: Wet Process, then Wp decaf
Arrival Date: August 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 screen
Varietal: 100% Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Roast taste, firm acidity, nuanced cup
Roast: I had very good roasts at City+ to Full City; The body is light at all roast stages; the roast flavors at Vienna are pleasantly carbony and sharp.
Compare to: A balanced Oaxaca cup profile in decaf form.
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Mexico Organic Chiapas Proish Coop 2008

Chiapas is the southernmost state in Mexico, at the Guatemalan border. The coffees are distinct from the Oaxaca Plumas and Coatepec coffees: they are a little brighter, sweeter, and bear some resemblance to the Huehuetenango coffees of Guatemala. Oaxaca is my other favorite Mexican origin, but the really good Chiapas coffees like this one have been consistently excellent, are a brighter and livelier cup. Many of the coffees from Chiapas are from small farms, cooperatively wet-milled and sold. We have offered the UDEPOM coop Chiapas for years. (UDEPOM, PROISH ... not the greatest names in the world. Proish? Sorta Pro? It's not the oddest coop name I have heard, or longest (Fedecocagua is up there for that award). Biut besides an early lot we had this season, the quality was up and down. SO we looked around and this Prosih organic-certified Chiapas landed on the cupping table, and it was classic Chiapas cup character. In fact, this is the first time we have selected a Proish Coop coffee in blind cupping, mainly because it is the first time it has broken the 84 point ceiling on the cupping table. This cup has a very attractive, clean fruited character from start to finish. In the dry fragrance, there is a mild coffee cherry and coffee floral scent, and hazelnut roast tones (C+ roast). Adding the hot water to brew, and wet aromatics of tropical fruit, cane sugar. In the cup the fruit has a mango sweetness, turning to peach-apricot nectar in the finish.





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green coffee bean
Country: Mexico
Grade: Alturra
Region: Chiapas
Processing: Wet-processed
Arrival Date: July 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen
Varietal: Mostly Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Sweetness, light body,
Roast: Takes a wide range of roasts from City+ to Full City to Full City+.
Compare to: A sweet and simple cup with interesting nut, chocolate and fruit aspects
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Mexico Organic Nayarit Dry-Process

This lot is quite unusual, not because of the region it is from or the fact it arrives later in the season than other Mexican lots. It's unusual because it is a full natural, dry-process coffee from Mexico. Actually, dry-process Mexico coffees can be found in many small markets across Mexico, since it is the cheapest way to process coffee. And those can be some of the nastiest Mexican coffees you have ever tasted, full of defect black beans, rotted fruit fermented flavors, phenolic fungus taste. Ironically, dry-process coffee, done right, is much more difficult and more costly that a more technified wet-process lot. To do it right, you need to pick ripe red coffee cherry, quickly and carefully dry it in the husk, remove that peel, and then hand-sort defective beans, requiring many hours of labor. Wet-process removes defects with machines ... under-ripe cherries float, other defects are removed on the gravity separator and screening machines. To make a really good dry-process it is all done manually, by highly experienced people. Anyway, the coffee is from the same location as the Terruno Wet-Process from earlier in the season. It is from the state of Nayarit, more specifically, west of the capital, Tepic. The 260 small-holder farms in this group are clustered around Cerro San Juan, an extinct volcano, so the soil type and altitude contribute to the cup quality. Nayarit is fairly low (the city of Tepic is 3000 feet) but the volcano immediately rises to 7000 feet, providing sloped terrain with good altitude, drainage and climate for the coffee. The aromatics of this coffee are much closer to a dry-processed Ethiopia than to any other Central America coffee; intense, rustic fruited notes, spice, and caramel sweetness. It's winey in the extreme, almost headed in the direction of oxidized wine (ie. getting vinegary!) ... but thankfully it's not. There's a hint of sourdough yeast in the dry fragrance. The cup, especially at the darker roast levels I prefer here, has a heavy chocolate character with traces of almond and (of course) a strongly fruited backdrop. Lighter roasts have an apricot brandy flavor. At both levels, the body is dense and opaque, the aftertaste extremely long. Unlike other natural coffees, I think this coffee is limited in it's espresso use, except as a component in a blend less than 20%.





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Ripe cherries on the patio in Mexico, ready to dry for our Nayarit lot.
Country: Mexico
Grade: Alturra
Region: Nayarit
Processing: Dry-processed
Arrival Date: July 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17 Screen
Varietal: Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Heavy body, chocolate, and almond
Roast: Full City to Full City+ to Vienna.
Compare to: Ethiopia dry-process Sidamo coffees in terms of fruited character and body, Brazil dry-process in terms of body and chocolate.
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