As we all know, coffee is nothing short of magical - it keeps people going throughout the day. It's safe to say that many people have an intimate relationship with coffee, and we aim to bolster your knowledge of its origins, who does it best, and where it comes from.
Anytime Mexico comes up in a conversation, it invokes several images, including tequila, spicy food, and beaches. Mexican coffee doesn’t always sprint to the top of the list.
Mexico is also home to some of the world’s best coffee. This fact is not well-known when compared to some of the most renowned coffee producers - Brazil and Ethiopia for example.
There are a few facts about Mexico's coffee that should be laid out for all:
- Mexico's organic coffee accounts for roughly 60% of global organic coffee production
- The majority of Mexican coffee is grown by small farmers as opposed to larger, industrial farms
- Coffee ranks top among Mexico's lucrative exports
- Mexican coffee tends to have sweet, earthy, and well-rounded notes
Without any fear of contradiction, Mexico has joined the cluster of countries with unique coffee.
This achievement is attributed to Mexico's culture, climate, and history of coffee cultivation.
In this article, we're going to look into these aspects a bit deeper, how they have developed and what the future holds for the Mexican coffee industry.
History of Coffee Production
People say that coffee first made its way into Mexico in the late 1700s. The Spanish first introduced this crop, having borrowed a leaf from other parts of the Central American coffee industry.
However, it wasn't until the late 1800s that Mexico's coffee industry started to rise to fame. From this point forward, Mexico began to export coffee overseas with regularity.
At this point, the crop was primarily grown in areas bordering Guatemala. Over time, European businessmen saw an opportunity to acquire large tracts of land to cultivate coffee for the long-term.
In the 20th century, small farmers took up coffee farming upon realizing that there was a huge demand for coffee beans from traders and roasters – an opportunity they could not let go of.
What baffles many is that small-scale producers were much more successful compared to those who were doing it large-scale. This attracted the attention of Casey Lurtz, then a Harvard student. Since then, she has been exploring the Mexican coffee industry and wrote about it extensively in her book Building an Export Economy in Southern Mexico.
Today, Mexico's coffee industry has grown leaps and bounds, and the country ranks top among the world's biggest cultivators of organic beans.
Mexico's Coffee Culture
Coffee is hardly the staple of busy mornings in Mexico that it is in other parts of the world, but it is part and parcel to sobremesa. This is a Mexican tradition of relaxing after heavy meals over coffee. Consequently, many Mexican coffee shops will hardly open their doors until late morning.
This trend is different from the usual coffee shop culture because it defies the European and American consumer pattern. Given Mexico’s long history in the coffee trade, specialty coffee culture is still in its early stages.
Coffee is more of an inherently social affair. It is often brewed with cinnamon and served with warm milk.
Over the years, the coffee tradition has continued to grow within Mexico. As we speak, you'll find some of the most delicious and pure single-origin coffee in Mexican coffee shops. These shops continue to make the most out of the newest designer blends and brewing techniques, providing coffee lovers with a new sensory experience.
Beyond the flavor and tradition, Mexican coffee has rightfully earned its place in the country's history books.
Mexico's Coffee Climate
Mexican farmers deal with a broad array of different climates, conditions, and elevations throughout the country. Mexico’s contrasting landscapes are home to cool cloud forests, snow-capped peaks, expansive deserts, and the charming beauty of its coastlines.
Coffee grading can vary from country to country. Mexican coffee is graded based on the altitude at which it's grown. The southern regions, where the landmass narrows and exposes the country to both coasts, are the primary source of coffee growth.
Chiapas and Oaxaca produce "high-grown" coffee – their hot, tropical climate provides excellent growing conditions and fairly consistent output. Suffice to say Chiapas and Oaxaca (where Relax and Brew sources its Mexican coffee from small farms) produce the highest quality coffee beans.
Mexican Medium Roast Coffee
Story of the Roast Sweet and smooth - this chocolatey, organic medium roast comes to you from the clay of southern Mexico. This coffee carries a delightful flavor and is an easy and enjoyable drink. Like all of our coffees,...read more
Veracruz and Puebla are located in the lowland areas, and most of Mexico's coffee emanates from these regions.
Mexico's Coffee Industry
Coffee is grown across 16 states, but, as mentioned, the south is home to most of the country's 711,000 hectares of coffee. Cooperatives are the primary drivers of coffee production.
As previously mentioned, Mexico's coffee industry is so huge that the country is top among the largest exporters of organic-certified coffee. It's estimated that up to 8% of producers grow coffee organically.
Not so long ago, Mexico exported 2.6 million bags of coffee. However, this output is akin to a drop in the ocean compared to the total coffee exports worldwide. Be it as it may, Mexico is still ranked as the ninth-largest coffee exporter globally.
All said and done, Mexico is a diverse coffee region that provides a discerning coffee drinker with exciting flavors. Mexico's coffee history intertwines with socioeconomic, political, and environmental changes.
While challenges abound, the growing coffee industry in Mexico is experiencing tremendous change, and the country's coffee culture is evolving by the day.