Coffee Profile – Chiapas, Mexico

Blanketsby Rob Stewart

My love affair with eating chillies is something that has developed over a number of years; I simply can’t resist the sensation of a good hot chilli! I love exploring the various levels of heat and the subtle unique flavours that individual chillies have such as the ‘Guajillo’, which has a red berry flavour and the’ Ancho’ with its smokey dried fruit notes. This fascination for chillies has evolved into a deep appreciation for Mexican cuisine. I have also come to value that there is more to the country than tequila and tacos, Mexico also grows some pretty good coffee too.

Mexico’s coffee history dates back to the late 1700’s with the introduction of coffee to the Antilles by the French however, it really didn’t take off until late into the 19th century. Mexico sits in at number 7 in the top 10 coffee producing nations and the second largest behind Colombia in Central America. The concentration of coffee production is in the southern regions of Mexico growing Arabica varieties such as Catuai, Caturra, Bourbon and Typica. In the low lying plantations they are commonly producing relatively average blend filler coffees’, but as the plantations start to climb the mountains the quality really starts to appear. A lot of the production efforts in Mexico are focused on organic certification and Fair trade in order to boost their position in the market. Mexican coffees take a lot of cupping to find the really good ones so be sure to look out for coffee coming out of regions like Oaxaca, Coatepec and Chiapas as well as its grading – HG (high grown) or Altura means it’s the highest grown coffee to come out of Mexico.

I’m a big fan of much of the coffee that comes out of the Soconusco region in the southern state of Chiapas that boarders Guatemala (I do like Guatemalan coffee so that’s probably why I favour anything that is coming from this region) however, the coffee is becoming harder to find. In October 2005 the region got slammed hard by Hurricane Stan which damaged many of the crops that where close to harvest and recent reports are now suggesting that this years crop will be the worst yield in 20 years due to bad weather and severe labour shortages.

Whenever I get a washed high grown coffee in from the Americas I always have a tendency to roast them on the light side so you really get to experience the delicate fruit notes and brightness that sets them apart from one another

The dry fragrance has an intoxicating toffee note, with a hint of red apple. Wet aroma is hazelnut and honey-vanilla. The cup has a mild and delicate acidity of peach and apricot and I find a little sugar cane sweetness at the end. The body is smooth but a little thin and quick off the palate which makes it perfect for a single origin espresso. Amazing in syphons and pour over units as these make the stone fruit notes come to life. I would not dare attempt blending this coffee as it is far too delicate and would get lost, but I suggest you just grab a block of 85% cocoa chocolate and sip on a double ristretto.

The Coffee
Location: Chiapas, Mexico
Altitude: 1500 meters +
Plant type: Typica, Caturra

Cup Profile
Fragrance/Aroma: Hazelnut, honey and vanilla
Flavour: Stone fruits
Aftertaste: Sweet and short
Acidity: Mild
Body: Smooth and thin

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