Since the late 1700’s coffee produced in Mexico has been known for its pristine growing conditions, the unique way the coffee is harvested and dried and the unique flavors that it produces.
Although, it may not be as popular as other coffee from around the world, Mexico produces coffee that is some of the best quality that you can find. But why is this? What is it that characterizes coffee from Mexico and make it different from coffee beans that are cultivated in other places?
Read on to find out how coffee in Mexico got its start, where the coffee industry is going in the future and what sets Mexico apart from other coffee producing countries.
The Climate and Harvesting of Mexican Coffee
Coffee is one of the principal agricultural products grown in the world, not only for the 56 developing countries that grow it, but as well for the United States, the European Union, and Japan which comprises 80% of the coffee consumed in the world.
In Mexico the cultivation of coffee is done in 12 states, 404 municipalities, 4,572 towns, and there is an estimation of 510,000 producers that use 675,300 hectares for its production. (whew!)
Chiapas (The main region where coffee is produced in Mexico) is one of the principal producer of organic coffee in the world, only this region produces 18 million tons annually. This is produced by 60,000 growers, one-third of them are indigenous.
They cultivate their coffee trees under the shadow of other native trees and foliage, this is done to have a natural cover, and for the coffee beans to have its necessary nutrients, characteristics and unique flavors, and this is all done in small self-owned parcels, avoiding the usage of agrochemicals to avoid contaminating the land.
With an enormous tradition of coffee cultivation, which has been an accumulated experience of over 200 years, coffee tree designated areas are known as great spaces that produce oxygen, and thanks to its traditional practices, it preserves ecosystems, it maintains earth nurtured, and even treat plagues with natural remedies.
“La roya” is a common disease coffee trees catch, and thanks to artisanal care, and proper selection and planning of contiguous crop designed as shields, it creates natural barriers that keep the harvest protected, nonetheless this is not 100% bullet proof and sometimes entire harvests are lost. Mexico ranks on the top 10 countries worldwide with the most coffee production (2020).
The Coffee Growing Regions of Mexico
Coffee in Mexico is divided into 4 main regions, each of them with its specific and distinct characteristics, but all have adequate conditions for the production of a high quality coffee:
1. Vertiente del Golfo
The states of San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo, Puebla, Mexico State, and Veracruz
2. Vertiente del Océano Pacífico
The states of Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, Nayarit and a part of Oaxaca
3. Región Soconusco
The states of Chiapas with the distinction of the production of organic coffee, which is highly in demand for North American and European markets.
4. Región Centro: North of Chiapas
40% of the surface of coffee plantations correspond to high and medium tropical rainforests, 23% to woods of pine and oak, 21% to low deciduous forests, and 15% to forest mountain mesophyll.
94% of the total production is harvested from the states of Chiapas, Veracruz, Puebla and Oaxaca. 85% of the total harvest contemplates these states and 83% of the total producers reside in these areas. The production has a smallholder character; about 90% of the producers have areas smaller than five hectares.
About 80% of the coffee production is exported, and in good years there is an annual return of about 800 million dollars. Chiapas leads in coffee production since its yield per hectare is higher than the world’s average; its conditions are similar to Vietnam and China.
What are the Classifications of Coffee from Mexico?
When selecting a coffee we can choose between three different coffee classifications: “buen lavado”, “prima lavado” or “de altura”.
1 Buen Lavado Coffee
It is produced at low altitude and its quality is distinguished by its mild flavor, delicate aroma, light acidity and little body.
2. Prima Coffee
Prima coffee occurs in an area of medium height; its flavor and aroma are pleasant, good acidity and good body. This may be the standard coffee that is harvested in Mexico, its production comprising about 70%-80% of the total production.
3. De Altura or High Altitude Coffee
It corresponds to the coffee beans collected in regions of more than 3,116.8 ft above sea level and is distinguished by an exquisite aroma and an incomparable flavor. It is the best quality and is known among some experts as “strictly high” or “fancy” coffee. It has a very pleasant aroma and the main characteristic is that it is full-bodied.
What Are The Different Types of Coffee Plants in Mexico?
The coffee treee is between 4 and 6 meters high(12 to 18 ft) . At maturity, it has ovate, glossy, and green leaves that last for three to five years. Its flowers are white and fragrant and remain open for a few days. Six or seven months after the flower appears, the fruit develops, which changes color from light green to red.
The perfect weather condition for coffee beans to grow is at a high level, making ideal conditions between 3,280.84 ft and 4,265.092 ft. above sea level. Nonetheless, it has to be in a very humid environment. The soil needs to be rich in nutrients, which will absorb the water and drain with ease the excess of precipitation.
The best soils are the ones with a cloak of leaves, other organic matter scattered on the land, and disintegrated volcanic rock. It should be cultivated in cold temperatures that have sudden rises of temperatures to 55 to 96 Fahrenheit degrees.
How is the Coffee from Chiapas?
Places that align all the factors needed for premium quality coffee are not abundant, and Chiapas with its unique climate that holds the perfect swinging temperature, abundant rain which maintains its volcanic ground hydrated, has the perfect conditions for its growth.
Coffee from Chiapas is famous for its aroma, the intensity of its body, and its superior flavor. It is known for having a more fruity flavor in comparison with other places, but this is mainly because of the species employed which is “Arabica”, with a more sweet and aromatic flavor.
There are also more bitter productions with “La Robusta”, stronger flavor, and sourer, but most of the production is employed in the soluble coffee sector.
The selection of the ripe coffee beans in Mexico is done manually, only the ones that reach full maturity, and the best grains are harvested. The process of drying are made in special designated areas to finalize the plantation process, always taking into consideration quality at every step
It is not common knowledge that the final product of coffee depends from on everything from sowing to harvesting. This has a great impact on the finished product. The first part of the process is practically artisanal, made by families and the communities where the coffee bean is harvested.