Have you ever had traditional Mexican coffee?
Not only are Mexican coffee beans a flavorful addition to your morning, but they bring a unique flavor and taste. This is partially due to the varying growing climates of Mexico, but also the geographic distribution.
Often times, the Mexican climate is thought of as strictly dry and hot. This is probably due to stereotypical thoughts when it comes to the land. For one, movies have something to do with it. Movies often depict Mexico as a deserted and dry wasteland, but that does not depict the entire picture of Mexico. In fact, Mexico is actually rich with geographical and climatic diversity – making Mexico one of the ideal places to grow and produce coffee.
In this article, let us explore Mexican coffee – its qualities, production background, and some history to it. Just like Mexico itself, Mexican coffee is more fascinating, interesting, and complex than what we often imagine about it.
Qualities and Characteristics of Mexican Coffee
When you think of Mexican coffee, what do you think of? Commonly, Mexican coffee has a medium body, soft sweetness, and spice and earthy flavor profiles.
This common flavor profile and range of Mexican coffee – ranging from commodity level to low-level specialty coffee – is often an excellent flavor profile for blending purposes. For instance, there are specialty blends that have a Mexican note and a bright Ethiopian note that brings out the flavors from both opposing sides of the flavor range.
For better and higher specialty-grade Mexican coffee, the blends often associated with the following characteristics: soft sweetness and fruitiness, delicate body, and an acidic shot for a finisher when finishing the drinking experience.
As you go higher and higher into the mountains of Chiapas, the coffee that grows there rivals some of the best Guatemalan coffees in terms of sweetness and complexity.
Most Mexican coffee is sweet and delicious. Whether you bought a 100% pure Mexican coffee or a blended Mexican coffee, it will be a delicious morning drink.
Growing Mexican Coffee
The majority of Mexico’s coffee production lies along its southern border due to the jungles and mountain ranges on Mexico’s Southern border. These provide coffee plants with rich nutrients and the proper altitude necessary to produce the best coffee beans. Some of these regions are the departments of Oaxaca, Veracruz, Chiapas, and Pluma. These regions are some of the most well-known coffee origins when it comes to specialty coffee.
Interestingly enough, Mexico, despite bordering the United States, sends a large portion of its best and excellent coffees to Europe, especially to Germany. While Mexico does export some coffee to the United States, many of the trade agreements are between farms in Mexico and European countries.
It’s important to note that most of the small farms stay managed by indigenous groups. One of their core agricultural philosophies, one that existed for centuries, is their respect and use of organic farming. Other than organic farming, there really is no big difference in the farming techniques used by indigenous farmers.
These techniques made Mexico the “Certified Organic” powerhouse it is today.
History of Mexican Coffee
Just like many of its neighboring countries, which is oftentimes the case with Central and South American countries, Mexico did not receive coffee plants until around the late 1700s. They first landed in Mexico when the Spanish colonials brought the coffee plants from Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
However, during these years, Mexico is actually not an agricultural hub; rather, an industrial hub. At the time, Mexico focused on exporting huge amounts of minerals such as gold and silver. Agriculture took the backseat during these years but stayed powerful as well.
From the late 1700s until the early- to mid-1800s, minerals took center stage, but when the 1860s came, coffee became one of the valuable exports of Mexico, rising in the ranks with its industrial counterparts like silver and gold.
If you enjoy Mexican coffee, make sure to check out our blog post on Costa Rican coffee, it is quite similar in body!
The shift from mineral exporting to coffee
However, Mexico’s border dispute with Guatemala became a real issue. Due to the border disputes, the Mexican government was forced to register lands. This, in turn, led to unregistered land to be put up for auction. This gave many wealthy Europeans an opportunity and legal path to pouring investments to Mexico.
Europeans indeed invested their money into Mexico, especially the Germans and Italians, starting with huge coffee farms and plantations. These countries quickly placed laws over the farmers, exploring their work. But thankfully, in 1914, new labor laws were enacted, freeing the farmers who essentially ended up being indentured workers for the European landowners.
When these local farmers were finally freed, they started growing their own coffee plants. Essentially, they contributed to the growing coffee industry. After the Mexican Revolution ended in the early 1900s, the government created more incentives to farmers, new and veteran alike, to further promote the growth of the Mexican coffee industry.
The Boom, The Bust, and How Innovation Helped Save a Struggling Industry by Going Organic
The boost and boom were just beginning for local Mexican farmers, who were once laborers for European landowners. The boost led to economic growth for themselves, their community, and the country itself. But this will not last for long.
Between 1973 and 1990, the coffee industry and production in Mexico saw an increase in growth – as much as 900% growth in some of its regions. Farmers and the farming community took this opportunity to buy back as many lands as possible from European landowners, but as mentioned above, this did not last for too long.
During the 90s, the international price of coffee plummeted. This heavily devastated coffee farms and coffee industries all over the Americas, leading to an end to Mexico’s national trade organization. To deal with the price drop, co-ops were established to pool resources, and innovations were made to distinguish Mexican coffee from other coffees in the international market.
Mexico’s transition to become the #1 producer of Certified Organic coffee
So, while the price drop had devastated Mexico and other American countries, this led Mexican coffee farmers to find new ways to improve their coffee, giving them a chance to stand in the international coffee market despite the price dropping. Specifically, Mexico would become the #1 producer of Certified Organic coffee in the entire world.
In the present times, Mexico is actually the 10th largest coffee producer in the whole world – that is, aside from being the #1 source of Certified Organic and Fair Trade coffee. Needless to say, the Mexican coffee industry still faces major issues such as coffee plant diseases. Nevertheless, just as they did with the international price plummet of coffee, Mexico is making innovations to manage their problems of coffee disease.
Mexico is a good example of how innovations plus skilled and experienced farming can help revive a struggling industry. Although at this current time, the Mexican coffee industry still has not recovered and returned to its pre-bust strength.
Try It Out — Cafe De Olla, Traditional Mexican Coffee
Cafe de Olla is a coffee that is traditional to Mexico. It translates directly to “pot coffee” in Spanish, which is exactly what it is. If you want to check out more of our recipes you can find “Most Irresistible Vegan Coffee Drinks” HERE.
- 8 cups of cold water
- 3 piloncillo cones, or ⅓ cup of dark brown sugar*
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 8 tbsp coarsely ground Mexican coffee
- Optional: 1 clove, 2 allspice berries, 3 black peppercorns, and 4 strips of orange peel
How to make it →
- Place the water in a saucepan with the piloncillo cones and cinnamon.
- Bring the water to a boil, allow the sugar to dissolve, then remove it from the heat.
- Add the coffee grounds and allow them to steep for 8 – 10 minutes.
- Use a ladle to pour the liquid into cups.
After learning everything there is to know about Mexican coffee, do you think its time to give the roast a try? Shop our Mexican coffee HERE.