With more than 500,000 coffee producers and a top-10 rank among the world’s coffee-producing countries, Mexico has established their ability to grow high-quality coffees.
But did you know that their beverage culture goes beyond regular coffee consumption? Beverages such as horchata, atole, and tejate are said to be some of the most popular non-alcoholic drinks that Mexicans and tourists alike consume.
That’s not to say Mexicans don’t drink coffee at all! It’s just that their coffee-drinking habits may vary depending on the region.
Let’s explore how the country began coffee cultivation and what a typical Mexican coffee tastes like.
Coffee cultivation in Mexico dates back to the end of the 1700s. Europeans brought coffee into Veracruz (the first region in Mexico to begin growing coffee) and began coffee farming by employing indigenous farmers.
It was only after the revolution that the farmers gained freedom from working under the Europeans and were able to claim rights to coffee production in Mexico through their own small farms.
Then, coffee cultivation was commercialised gradually as the government noticed its impact on the nation’s economy. They set up the national coffee institute - INMECAFE - in 1973 to boost production and support indigenous labourers.
However, less than a couple of decades later, economic trouble in Mexico led to an unfortunate decline in coffee production. INMECAFE was closed down, and farmers couldn’t profitably grow coffee or invest in the trade.
There was even a coffee crisis where due to instability in market prices, the prices of coffee fell severely, placing the farmers at a further disadvantage.
Even when the 21st century began, coffee production was just not the same as it once had been.
But with the formation of cooperatives to pick up where INMECAFE left off, there was some hope for Mexico’s coffee industry.
Today, cooperatives play a significant role in how coffee gets produced, marketed, and distributed. And a majority of the coffee grown in and exported from Mexico is still the handiwork of small and indigenous farmers, who have better control over their farming efforts.
While coffee shops and café culture have existed in Mexico in some form for many years, it is in recent times that the country began to be known for their specialty coffees.
Café de olla is a Mexican speciality. The coffee is traditionally brewed in a clay pot called olla with cinnamon and cane sugar. These condiments aren’t added to the cup but are included in the brewing process itself so that the sugar and cinnamon mix well with the brew and give the coffee a sweet-spicy flavour.
One of the things Mexico’s coffee industry is known for is that they grow organic coffees. These are certified by agencies and do not use pesticides and other chemicals in coffee production; thereby, truly making a positive environmental mark in the global coffee industry. These organic coffees get exported worldwide and can be found in cafes.
Mexican coffees are popular amongst people who enjoy chocolatey, nutty flavours in their coffee. There’s a sweetness to Mexican coffees that makes them memorable.
They are light-bodied and washed-processed arabica coffees.
You don’t have to worry about the level of acidity being over the top in Mexican coffees. They tend to be balanced, eliciting a pleasant sensation.
There are 4 main coffee-growing regions in Mexico. They are Oaxaca, Chiapas, Puebla, and Veracruz, which contribute to 90% of the coffee produced in Mexico.
As can be expected, there are slight differences in the coffee from each of these regions.
For instance, coffee from Chiapas boasts tasting notes of cherries and dark chocolate, whereas coffees from Puebla contain caramel and walnut notes. Want your coffee to have a creamy body, fruity notes and bright acidity? Look out for coffees from Oaxaca.
Mexican coffees have quickly become a crowd favourite because of the nutty-sweet flavour profiles.
Have you tried any coffees from Mexico? Let us know what you think of it.