Mexico

Mexican coffee originates from South-central to Southern regions of the country. For that reason, coffees from Coatepec and Veracruz are much different from Oaxacan Plumas, which are in turn much different from the southernmost region of Chiapas. Chiapas borders the Guatemalan coffee growing area of Huehuetenango, and you will find similarities between coffees grown in those regions. In general, you can expect Mexican coffee to be light-bodied and mild, with subtle flavors.

Mexico is one of the larger producers of certified organic coffees, and because of the US close proximity, we receive the majority of fine Mexican coffees in this market. Mexican coffees are worth exploring for the variety of cup characteristics they present, but the bulk of the coffee is poorly picked and processed, so valued flavors are masked by bad flavors from under-ripe coffee cherries and inconsistent processing. There are exceptions, but it seems that the financial rewards are not sufficient to interest estate farms or small cooperative groups to produce higher-quality small lots.

In general, it has become harder for me to find great Mexican coffees from Oaxaca and Chiapas. While other origins have improved their visibility and their specialty coffee production skills, Mexico remains quiet on the subject, having only staged a preliminary auction for quality lots in 2012 that netted very few entrants. Mexico has relied more on the Organic and Fair Trade model to attain better prices, rather than looking for a reward from higher quality coffee. That can work fine, and I support both efforts (as you see on our offer list), but they leave behind those dependent on private farms ... and I believe that part of the market has become more volume oriented.

Mexican coffees are moderately priced, lighter bodied, and wide-ranging in their cup character. For this reason, you need to explore coffee selections from each of the regions to get a good sense of the possibilities of Mexican coffee. Unfortunately, I rarely approve of the cup quality of coffees from Coatepec and Atoyac, and have never carried a Veracruz. Most of the impressive coffees I find are from Oaxaca and Chiapas.

I was in Chiapas for a brief trip which summed up frustrations from trying to work with a cooperative to separate special lots of coffee. Here are some comments and images from this short trip.

No coffees are currently available from this origin. The review is our most recent offering, provided for reference.
Mexico Organic La Lagunilla
Ripe cherry laying to dry on the open patio
Appearance.6 d/300, 15-17 screen
GradeSHB EP
ProcessingWet Process (Washed)
RegionCacolotepec, Oaxaca
Varietal(s)Bourbon, Caturra, Typica
RoastCity+ - Full City+. This coffee is versatile and will hold up in the darker roast ranges.
This lot comes to us from the cooperative of La Lagunilla in the small town of Cacolotepec. The cooperative society handles wet and dry milling for many of the small holder, Zapotec community, and this particular blended lot is made up of 40 different producers. Most farmers migrated out of Cacolotepec in the early 2000's, partly due to the highly volatile coffee market during that time. La Lagunilla was formed in 2003 in an effort to rebuild coffee as a viable income for their community, focusing their efforts on organic cultivation and ultimately obtaining organic certification. Production is "traditional", in that depulping is handled at the farms on hand cranked devices, then the coffee is fermented overnight, washed, and dried on mats. Altitude in the area is a range of 1000 to 1500 meters. It's been a while since we've had Mexico coffee, and our patience has paid off with this solid and sweet coffee from La Lagunilla. The dry grounds have a nuttiness that you might expect from a Mexico coffee, but it's sweet like marzipan and roasted almond. There's a burned sugar smell too that verges on caramel. Adding hot water brings up some discernible smells of baking spices as well as unrefined, muscovado sugar, and dried banana. Flavors of toasted nut and brown sugar reverberate throughout the cup profile. The nutty aspect along with a refined sugar sweetness is like Jordan almond candies. Fruit accents like blackberry and apple are present as well, but are more off in the background. The finish has notes of burned sugars, and an accent of Umami tea. This coffee is approachable and will definitely hold up across a range of roast levels.