Just as many exotic locations with none of the jet lag, Mexico is the closest coffee producing country to the United States . A burgeoning tourism destination, Mexico is a diverse country with deserts, blue waters, mountains, huge cities, and small hamlets. Taking a step away from the new resorts and seaside resort complexes will land you right in the middle of prime coffee country.
Ease of access and abundant quality coffee has turned greater buyer interest towards Mexico in the recent years. This has helped elevate Mexico ’s status from blend coffee to single-source and organic specialty offerings.
The following is an excerpt from Roast Magazine:
Mexican coffees are known for being light to medium in body with mild acidity and good balance. But because the often lack the richness and body many buyers look for, Mexican coffees were traditionally used in blends and as a flavoring base.
Today Mexico , like many other Central and South American countries is gaining new attention for its single origin, fair-trade and organic coffees. Some of this is due in part to the Mexican Coffee Council which has been working to increase Mexican coffee’s reputation by implementing an official quality certification program.
This is also partly due to consumers increased interest in high-quality single-origin coffees. “We’ve seen the same things happening in Mexico that we’ve seen in other regions,” says Andrew Miller, president of Café Imports. “People have started understanding the uniqueness of different regions. Mexico has recognized that it has different regions and each region has its own flavor.”
Mexico also has a long history of offering organic and fair-trade coffees, something that helps set it apart from other newer-to-the-fold countries. Currently Mexico is the main producer of organic coffee in the world according to the Mexican Coffee Council.
“I think ( Mexico ) was one of the first countries doing organic and fair trade,” Miller says, “They were early on the roster of fair trade producers. Part of what happened had to do with the coffee crisis—people who wanted to stay in the game had to differentiate.
Mexican coffee is also popular in the United States for one of the same reasons that coffee from Hawaii is popular. “ Mexico is accessible,” says Miller, “It’s easy to get there and safe to go there.” And once people visit a place, they often purchase coffee from that place, regardless of taste or quality
Growing Regions- Boquete
Altitude (Meters) - 1000-1500
Cup Profile -Medium Body, Sweet, and Round Cup
Language -Spanish (official), English
Coffee Production (lbs.) NA
Exports (lbs.) NA
Botanical Varieties -Typica, Bourbon, Caturra
Wet Processed - Yes
Dry Processed - NA
Panamanian coffees are under appreciated and inexpensive in my less than humble opinion. The coffees from the Boquete region of Panama are subtly bright, well balanced, with fruit, and dark cocoa tones.The forested mountains of Boquete provide one of the most beautiful growing conditions in the world. As you approach the finca, you ride on a single lane road down in the valley with vertical cliffs covered with flowers and trees. The finca itself is misted in clouds, with guava and tropical fruit trees intermingled among the wild coffee trees. In the middle of the finca is a five-hundred year old tree that was just a sapling when Christopher Columbus was just landing on the shores of the Americas. As you walk under a twenty-foot coffee tree, you look up and see sleeping fruit bats among the bright red coffee cherries. It is an experience like no other and this was just one of many fincas in the Boquete region of Panama.
Growing Regions- Magdelena, Medellin, Bucaramanga, Popayan, Huila, Narino
Altitude (Meters) - 800-1900
Cup Profile- Sweet, Bright, and Rich
Coffee Production (lbs.)- 1,227,600,000
Exports (lbs.) -1,325,574,000
Botanical Varieties- Typica, Bourbon, Caturra
Wet Processed - Yes
Dry Processed - NA
Colombian coffees are well balanced, medium bodied, and bright. They are also the most highly marketed coffees in the world. Everyone knows Juan Valdez. The Coffee Federation of Colombian has done an excellent job of connoting in the American public's mind that Colombian coffees are the "richest coffees in the world."Does Colombian coffee deserve this praise? The answer is both yes and no.Colombia has done a very nice job at bumping up the quality of its average beans and produces an above average grocery store or restaurant coffee. A lot of Colombian coffee, however, is not that truly special. On the other hand, a lot is praise-worthy. The task is to search out the exceptional among the merely decent cups.Colombia is just starting to market and sell its coffee by region and finca, as opposed to just the "Colombian Mountain Grown" label. To be honest, I think that since Colombia was so successful at marketing the country as a whole, it was a latecomer to the micro-region vintage model of coffee marketing.Overall, no reason to tell you to try Colombian coffees, since, if you drink coffee, you already have. But make sure not to discount Colombian coffee as the smiley face of the coffee world. Top-notch vintage coffees are there, just have to request them, instead of just saying, "Colombian coffee please" when you order coffee at your local coffee house.A final note: Supreme and Excelso are bean size descriptions, not cupping profiles, growing altitudes, or anything else. Supremos are bigger than Excelos, but these names do not mean anything on cup, per se. Basically they are the names that the Coffee Federation came up with. Just something to keep in mind!
Costa Rican coffees set the standard for washed (wet processed) bright Central American coffees in both the bean and at the mill. Costa Rican coffees are exceptionally high grown in amazing volcanic soil. These two factors come together to produce a very bright and very clean cup. The best Costas are the cups that develop a bit of berry fruitiness to compliment the straight-out brightness. Costa Rican coffees serve as an excellent bright single origin coffee and will definitely add life to various blends. Additionally, these slower grown, dense, high altitude beans can take the heat of a French roast.The many different regions of Costa Rica produced coffees with subtle, but distinct, differences in the cup.Tarrazu is the marquis region of Costa Rica noted for the best soils and highest altitudes. While no single country, or region can guarantee an exact level of coffee year in and year out, as coffee is subject to wind, rain, sun, and other sometimes-less-than-cooperating forces of nature, coffees from Tarrazu do consistently stand out for their brightness and clean cups, with hints of light berry and apple cider.Volcan Poas, besides having one of the cooler-sounding coffee region names, produces some very fine coffee with a bit more fruit than its southern neighbor of Tarrazu. A bit of smoky volcanic soil taste comes through to the bean too, in certain special coffees.Tres Rios in the cup is a bit softer and a bit more balanced than the straight-on, take-no-prisoners brightness of some of the other regions in Costa Rica. Coffees from this region are a great single origin cup, or introduction to Costa Rican coffees.Another amazing feature of Costa Rican coffees is the human touch at the beneficios (mills) where the processing and milling of coffee approaches a level of artistry not easily surpassed. Besides immaculately clean mills, which are the standard, the efficiency and beauty of the inner workings of the mill amaze.For example, with strict Costa Rican environmental laws, wastewater from the fermentation tanks is treated with natural bacteria to break down the acidity reducing the pH back to levels that are tolerable for the streams and rivers of the country. By using the wood from pruned old coffee trees, along with the parchment from dry milling, many mills do not use a single stick of outside wood to fire the mechanical dryers. Some of the more inventive mills actually use the methane gasses produced when the bacteria breaks down the fermented pulp to fire the dryers. Finally, sun-dried coffees, of course, are just simple "solar" powered. All in all, the mills are an impressive sight, from the small single estate to the largest cooperatives.With such high standards in Costa Rican coffees to start with, intense cupping pays rewards as we seek out the subtle nuances that make certain cups outstanding among their peers.
Growing Regions -Tarrazu, Volcan Poas, Central Valley, Tres Rios, Heredia, Alajeula, Naranjo
Altitude (Meters) - 1200-1800
Cup Profile -Bright and Clean Cup
Coffee Production (lbs.)-325,644,000
Botanical Varieties-Caturra, Catuai
Wet Processed - Yes
Dry Processed - NA
Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee. The regal coffees from this country are deserving of such a heritage and stand up to the calling. Referring to Ethiopia as a country of single origin, however, is misleading. Coffees from the different growing regions vary so incredibly that they do not even seem to be from the same planet!Ethiopian Yergacheffes are amazing and unique coffees. Yergacheffe is a town in the Sidamo region of Ethiopia, and the coffees from this region will surprise you with their floral and tangerine notes.In a stellar Yergacheffe, even the grounds have an exotic tropical toasted coconut aroma that will knock you over with its charms. Sometimes Coffee Joe's will try to compare Yergacheffes to other coffees, such as a bright Central American or an exciting Kenyan, just south of the border from Ethiopia, but there truly is not a real comparison. I guess you can compare a new Beaujolais bursting with wild fruit to a regal old Cabernet that has been thinking about being a wine for a decade and call them both reds, but . . . well you get my point.Another amazing growing region within Ethiopia is the Harrar region. Harrars are wild coffees. What's a wild coffee, you ask? The term is a fancy name for dry process or natural coffee where the coffee fruit dries on the bean, imparting the flavors of compote fruit and dark rich chocolate. Harrars are this and more! You will taste blueberry jam, cocoa, and maybe even a touch of cinnamon and cardamom in these amazing coffees.Coffee holds a special place in Ethiopian culture that transcends that of the coffees from other origin countries. The majority of the crop does not even leave the country and is drunk with great ceremony by the Ethiopian people. This is in contrast to other origins where coffee is a cash crop, with the best being exported, and the dregs kept locally and drunk unceremoniously with plenty of milk and sugar to choke it down.One taste of an excellent Ethiopian coffee and you will understand this passion for the bean.
Growing Regions- Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo, Espirito Santo, Rio De Janerio, Bahia, Goias, Rondonia, Parana
Altitude (Meters) - 800-1200
Cup Profile- Soft, Mild, and Nutty
Language- Portuguese (official), Spanish, English, French
Coffee Production (lbs.)- 3,586,440,000
Exports (lbs.)- 3,053,820,000
Botanical Varieties- Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, Catuai, Catimor, Maragogype, others
Wet Processed - Yes
Dry Processed – Yes
TJ’s Roaster is happy to share the following information provided from our importer Café Imports www.cafeimports.com.
1. Fresh Roasted Coffee
Only fresh-roasted specialty coffee beans ground just before brewing can give you the superb taste coffee has to offer.
2. High Quality Water
You should use only filtered water for brewing coffee. Good water will produce the best-tasting coffee.
3. How Much Coffee to Use?
This is like asking someone how much mayonnaise they want on a sandwich. Because coffee is a strong flavoring agent, it takes relatively little to produce a robust brew. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America you should use 2 tablespoons per 6oz. of water and adjust accordingly. We have found the amount of coffee will range between 2 oz and 4 oz per 12 cup pot, according to your own personal taste.
4. A Coffee Grind that Matches the Brewing Time
To prevent under or over-extracting the flavor from the beans, you must match the right particle size (grind) with the right brewing time. In general, longer brewing times should be paired with larger particles and shorter brewing times with smaller particles. Too fine a grind will cause bitterness and too coarse will cause weak taste.
5. Proper Brewing is Essential
Bring the water just below boiling (200 degrees). For drip brewers the cycle should be complete in 4-6 minutes. Other good methods are the french press and vacuum pot, which brew in about 4 minutes. Avoid percolators and electrics that the cycle is longer than 6 minutes, these will over-extract the coffee and cause bitterness.
6. Coffee Storage
Is a very controversial subject to say the least. We beleive the best way to store fresh roasted specialty coffee is to keep it in our bag (with a valve) and tightly reseal it, or use an airtight container. Keep it in your cabinet or pantry not in the freezer or refrigerator. Storing coffee in the freezer or refrigerator will cause moisture to form inside the container and greatly reduce the flavor of the coffee.
Growing Regions- Aceh around Laut Tawar Lake. Lake Toba region, Lintong Nihuta, Sumbul, Takengon.
Altitude (Meters) - 800-1500
Cup Profile- Full Bodied, Low Acid, Earthy
Language -Bahasa Indonesia (official, modified form of Malay), English, Dutch, local dialects, the most widely spoken of which is Japanese
Coffee Production (lbs.)- 1,033,956,000
Exports (lbs.)- 671,088,000
Botanical Varieties- Sumatra Arabica
Wet Processed - Yes
Dry Processed - Some Indonesian semi-washed
Brazil is a coffee giant producing over 40 percent of the world's coffee! Most of this is lower grade Arabica and even lower grade robusta, but there are some special Brazilian coffees out there, and if you ever have had an espresso or cappuccino, there is a great chance you have had a Brazilian coffee before.Why does Brazil produce so much coffee, yet so much of it is not specialty grade? Two reasons: Coffee is a major agricultural crop in Brazil, and thus economies of scale rule here, not quality of the cup, per se. Many Brazilian coffees are mechanically stripped from the coffee tree, not lovingly hand picked. This mechanical picking results in many less-than-ripe cherries taken off the tree. Another factor in Brazil's coffee is altitude, or lack thereof. Much of Brazil's coffee is lower grown in grassland areas in non-volcanic soil. These conditions are less than ideal for specialty coffee and this comes through in the cup.Okay, okay, so if things are not that great in Brazil, then why do they grow 40 percent of the world's coffee? Well, the answer is twofold. Most of the coffee in Brazil is grown to be "commercial" grade coffee that goes into those little metal cans, and into instant (soluble coffee in the trade), and into other uses that are similar, so that peak flavor is not a concern, but rather bulk and price are the prime considerations. The other is that there are some very good Brazilian coffees. A great high quality Brazil is soft, nutty, low acid, with nice bittersweet chocolate tastes. A good Brazil can add a lot to espresso blends, and is great straight! One of our consistent favorites is a natural Brazil, where the coffee is laid out to sun dry with the cherry on. This imparts a rich dry fruit flavor onto the coffee bean, and adds to the body of the cup!So in summary, there are some very good Brazils out there. So we cup and cup to find those that are special and pick them out of the rather large crowd of humdrum (or so-so) Brazilian coffees.
Growing Regions: Chiapas, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Coatepec
Altitude (Meters): 800-1700
Cup Profile : Medium Body and Sweet
Language: Spanish, various Mayan, Nahuatl, and other regional indigenous languages
Coffee Production (lbs.) : 817,476,000
Exports (lbs.) : 575,256,000
Botanical Varieties : Bourbon, Typica, Mundo Nuevo, Catura, Maragogype
Wet Processed - Yes
Dry Processed - Yes
Guatemalan coffees are some of the most amazing fragrant and aromatic coffees in the world. The natural shade and jungle of the Guatemalan highlands are the perfect environment for the bourbon botanical variety of arabica (a spontaneous variety of the original typical), which lends itself to a very nice and very natural full cup.Hue Hue Tenango (way-way-ten-nang-oh) in the northeast frontier produces a wonderful bright coffee with nice body, and excellent floral tones and fruitiness. Besides all these great cup attributes, it's a fun one to say, "Way Way."Coffees from around Lake Attilan are a classic Guatemalan cup. Atitlan's are coffees with deep body, stunning acidity and fruit, and hints (more than mild suggestions) of chocolate and cinnamon. Atitlan's are truly a classic amazing cup.Antigua is Guatemala's oldest and most famous coffee growing region. The magnificent volcanoes of Agua, Acatenango, and Fuego enclose this valley. Fuego lives up to its name (fuego means fire in Spanish) by spewing forth volcanic ash continuing to add to the rich soil of the area. Antiguan cups are nice bodies, full-on bright coffees with spice. There is a reason this region is so loved and sought out by the coffee connoisseur.All in all, Guatemala must be a stop on your coffee journey.
Sumatran coffees capture the wild jungle essence of this tropical Indonesian island. We cup Sumatran after Sumatran to find that earthy, deep, complex, full-bodied coffee that exhibits low-acidity smoothness and a touch of forest floor funk. A great Sumatran is creamy, sweet, with a touch of butterscotch, spice, and mustiness. (Yes, mustiness, not jungle rot. This is where cupping Sumatran after Sumatran pays off Big!)Sumatran coffee is a beautiful deep blue-green color with the appearance of jade. There is a tendency to over roast Sumatrans (along with other dry processed wild coffees) as they do not show much roast color, and roast unevenly. Sometimes the beans will look uneven and funky green. This is not a problem, however, or a sign of bad beans. Quality in the cup is what matters, or should matter, not mere appearance of beans.Sumatran coffees are hand sorted, and come in single-picked, double- picked, and even triple-picked lots. Since Sumatran's are dry processed and often laid out to dry on the dirt in small villages, sorting the coffee is essential to take out the sticks and stones that the beans inevitably acquire, but triple picking does not necessarily improve the quality of cup. In fact, we sometimes find that over-picked beautiful polished coffees are sometimes bland in the cup.
Growing Regions -Harrar, Sidamo, Yergacheffe, Limmu, Djimmah, Lekempti, Bebeka
Altitude (Meters) - 1500-1800
Cup Profile -Yergacheffes are Floral and Citrusy. Harrars are Jammy and Wild
Language -Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromigna, Guaragigna, Somali, Arabic, other local languages, English
Coffee Production (lbs.) -505,956,000
Exports (lbs.) -239,976,000
Botanical Varieties- Native Arabica
Wet Processed - Yergacheffe, Sidamo, Limu, Bebeka
Dry Processed - Harrar, Sidamo, Djimmah
Kenyan coffees are as majestic as the morning African sun rising over the savannah. These are powerful bright coffees that run the gamut from lemony to peppery from blackberry fruit to winey richness. These characteristics come together in an extremely complex coffee that is truly VIBRANT. A great Kenyan is not a subtle delicate coffee but rather a coffee full of power and character.Suitable to the potential of these great coffees, the best Kenyan coffees are not simply sold as Kenyan coffee, but rather are sold as specific auction lots to the highest bidder. We cup Kenyan over Kenyan to seek out and bid on those specific lots that excel. A decent Kenyan is still a great coffee, but with such high standards and potentials, time at the cupping table pays great dividends.There is a perfect Yergacheffe, but there are many perfect Kenyans. For that reason, we often carry many different Kenyans at the same time. While Kenyans are easily identifiable in general character of the cup, they also have greatly varied personalities, like different siblings in a great family.
Growing Regions- Mount Kenya, Kasii, Nyanza, Nakuru, Kajiado
Altitude (Meters) - 1500-2000
Cup Profile- Bright and Vibrant. Winey with nice Body
Language- English (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous indigenous languages
Coffee Production (lbs.) -189,156,000
Exports (lbs.) -146,916,000
Botanical Varieties- Native arabica from Ethiopia. Ruiru II
Wet Processed - Yes
Dry Processed - NA
Growing Regions- Huehuetenango, Atitlan, Antigua, Coban, San Marcos
Altitude (Meters) - 1400-2000
Cup Profile-High acidity, clean, with fruit
Language-Spanish 60%, Amerindian languages 40% (more than 20 Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca)
Coffee Production (lbs.) -616,308,000
Exports (lbs.) -594,000,000
Botanical Varieties-Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai, Panche, Typica
Wet Processed - Yes
Dry Processed – NA