MEXICO - 2017
Coffee may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Mexico but we believe it has long been undervalued as a specialty coffee origin and, as my most recent trip there showed, there is a huge amount of amazing work going on and some fantastic coffees to be had if you know where to look.
I travelled to Veracruz in south east Mexico back in April to take part in the Aromas del Pico event run by one of our import partners Caravela. The premise is very similar to the Cup of Excellence: producers from all over Mexico are invited to submit their very best micro lots and special preparation coffees. These lots are then cupped by a jury of international coffee tasters (including yours truly) and at the end of the week the top 20 finalists are auctioned off to the highest bidder at a big ceremonial lunch with all the buyers and producers present.
We have been working in Mexico with Finca Muxbal in Chiapas for many years but this event proved a great way for us to expand our buying and discover more of the great diversity Mexican coffee now has to offer. The country produces a lot of coffee, in 2009 they were the eighth biggest producing country in the world with around 250,000 metric tons of coffee.
While most production is focused around the states of Veracruz, Oaxaca and Chiapas, coffee is grown in nine other states across the country including as far north as Nayarit and San Luis Potosi, some of the most northerly grown coffees in the world. Because of the high volumes and preponderance of small holder producers working in co-operatives the general reputation of Mexican coffee has been a little one dimensional, a good solid blender but without the quality and complexity for great, specialty grade coffee.
Likewise, due the countries proximity to the United States, much of Mexico’s coffee is sold to the USA making it something of a rarity in Europe. This scarcity alongside its middling reputation means you don’t see much Mexican coffee on specialty coffee menus here in the UK. We are glad to be playing a small role in changing this.