We recently held our first ever Mexican cupping competition in the dusty little coffee town of Jaltenango, that sits in a valley of the Sierra Madre mountain range in Chiapas.
It was a huge success in that we found 15 lots of exceptional coffee and met a number of quality coffee producers who delivered over 600 bags of coffee above 86 points. Some over 90.
This was our first attempt at an event like this in Mexico; an attempt to find the best producers and best regions of specialty coffee in that country. About twenty cuppers from Ottawa, Philly, Ohio, Mexico and other parts of the US stopped in Jaltenango for two days of farm visits and one very long and intense day of cupping alongside us.
At the end we had 3 coffees above 90 points, 2 above 88 and 10 coffees over 86 points. Coffees from Oaxaca, Veracruz, and Chiapas. From small farms to large estates, from single producers to FTO Co-op members but in general, the most intense and eclectic tables of coffee we have ever seen from Mexico. Incredible diversity of flavor and intensity Here are a couple of examples of the cupping notes;
PSS 90.50, Gorgeous, floral, perfect harmony, vibrant balanced taste, creamy, stone fruit, floral, pomegranate, custard, lemon, apple pie, earthy, savory
PSS 92.5 Incredibly juicy, berry acidity, mango, earl grey, pineapple, currant, peach, dark chocolate, sparkly lemon orange.
A big portion of the resources we allocate as a company over the course of a year is dedicated toward digging deep in origin to try and find and engage quality farmers in a country that has historically blended most of its coffee. In Mexico there are 450,000 farmers working on 600,000 hectares, so an average of 1.34 hectares per producer. A “small-holder” centric country like this usually leads to a situation wherein small producers bring their pergamino to town where it gets blended with other coffee from the area. The challenge is to cup each lot of coffee before it gets blended and pick out the gems.
Our export partner in this project, AMSA, has been setting aside top lots from the recent harvest and had pre-cupped 30 coffees that they felt were above 86 points. We cupped three tables of ten and then sorted out the top ten coffees for a “greatest hits” table in the afternoon. There were a few coffee producers in attendance for a barbecue and an awards ceremony. The winning coffee producer was paid $4.50 cents per pound and invited to visit us at the SCAA expo in Seattle this April as part of the prize. The other portion of the prize was 10,000 rust resistant seedlings and a year of technical assistance from SMS the sustainability and technical arm of AMSA. Talk about a cool initiative!
Hopefully, this will get the attention of dedicated coffee producers and let them know that there are roasters out there that value their hard work and dedication and that there ar consumers that value top quality coffee and are willing to pay for it.
We are going back again next year for the second annual… I hope you can come. Thank you in advance for your support of this program.
To see more photos from Mexico CLICK HERE
To see beanologies of these competition coffees, CLICK HERE or simply search “Lo Mejor de Mexico” on our Beanologies page.
Increase the quality of life for those involved–from tree to cup–through the commerce of coffee.