Mexico is not famous for its coffee, which is a pity, since there are beautiful coffees grown there. For years the main market for Mexican coffee has been… Mexico, and so internationally there is not much knowledge about the Mexican varieties. Last Friday, thanks to a good friend , I got some samples of Mexican coffee to taste. So imagine a kid just before Saint Nicholas: that was me facing this 5 varieties of Mexican coffees!
Coffee is grown in Mexico in 12 out of the 31 provinces. The best known coffee growing provinces are Chiapas, Veracruz and Oaxaca. Until yesterday my two favourite Mexican coffees were a washed typica from Coatepec (Veracruz) and a naturally dried Arabiga (but I don’t know what variety) from Guerrero. Guerrero? Yes, admitted, Guerrero province is best known for the fact that Acapulco is there, but they also grow some coffee at small scale along the Pacific coast. Veracruz, on the other hand, is along the Gulf of Mexico. Hence, two very different coffees from two different regions of Mexico. Coffee from Coatepec is very aromatic, it has a good body and acidity and a dark chocolate aftertaste. The coffee that I liked from Guerrero came from a small community that grows, processes, roasts and grinds their own coffee. It was naturally dried and I guess some fermentation was involved because the coffee had a deep, strong flavour and a aftertaste with hints of liquor. It was like drinking Irish coffee, but then without the whiskey! It is very unfortunately that the community is not willing to sell this amazing, unique coffee as green beans. They only sell it roasted and ground as that is part of the community income.
The best way to taste coffee is through cupping. For cupping the coffee is only lightly roasted, stopping just in first crack. In fact, this is lighter roasted than one would generally drink it, but when roasted so light the coffees for sure haven’t lost any of their flavours and aromas yet while there is only little bitterness that could cloud the taste of the coffee. That’s the ideal situation though, the samples I got were already roasted for normal consumption so that I could not do cupping, Therefore I simply used the samples to prepare espressos. Most of our costumers drink espresso anyway, so I tasted the coffee in the way that they most likely will be prepared.
One of the coffees that I tasted is from Chiapas. Chiapas is a province devoted to coffee, and it is grown in different regions of the province. Coffee from the region of Ocosingo (in the Itsmo of Tehuantepec, half way between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean) has a strong flavour and some acidity. However, coffee from the Soconusco, an area famous for coffee close to the coast, is acid, bitter and has a strong aftertaste.
The big surprise for me was the coffee from the region of Pahuatlan, Puebla. This coffee looked a bit over roasted, even a little bit shiny. The smell is both nutty and flowery and the taste is well balanced with acidity and bitterness. The flavour seems to be deep, with layers. The aftertaste was pleasant, not bitter nor acid. For a coffee from a rather unknown and small coffee region a real gem.
Having tasted quite a few Mexican coffees by now, the common factor is acidity. All of them have strong acidity and little bitterness. The best known example of that is the so-called Mexico Maragogype coffee. This type of coffee that in Mexico is predominantly grown in Chiapas province can be very acid. It’s something you have to like, or not.
The next step now is to get some green samples of the Mexican coffees we tasted to see if we can play around with the roasting to get the optimal taste. And then…who knows? They may show up in our web shop at some moment…