I got to cup coffee the other day with Eirik Johnsen and some other employees (Jonas, Stine? and the ever smiling Emily) of the Stockfleth's coffee bar in Lille Grensen, Oslo.
Eirik had just returned from a stay in Mexico and had brought with him an assortment of coffee samples. All was preroasted and packed in bags, so we didn't have the chance to roast to the exact same degree before cupping. That is normal practice in most cases, but then you need a sample roaster etc. This was more of a social gathering to sample some interesting coffees. We didn't for instance use any grade forms. What we did however was to pick three favourites each. The winner was a peaberry coffee that I sadly don't remember the name of. Eirik, if you read this post, could you please write a comment with the name?
Most Mexico coffee comes from the southern part of the country, where the continent narrows and takes a turn to the east. Veracruz state, on the Gulf side of the central mountain range, produces mostly lowland coffees, but coffees called Altura (High) Coatepec, from a mountaineous region near the city of that name, have an excellent reputation. Other Veracruz coffees of note are Altura Orizaba and Altura Huatusco. Coffees from the opposite, southern slopes of the central mountain range, in Oaxaca State, are also highly regarded and marketed under the names Oaxaca or Oaxaca Pluma. Coffees from Chiapas State are grown in the mountains of the southeasternmost corner of Mexico, near the border with Guatemala. The market name traditionally associated with these coffees is Tapachula, from the city of that name, but coffee sellers now usually label them Chiapas. Chiapas produces some of the very best and highest grown Mexico coffees.
The typical fine Mexico coffee is analogous to a good light white wine - delicate in body, with a pleasantly dry, acidy snap. If you drink your coffee black and prefer a light, acidy cup, you will like these typical Mexico speciality coffees. However, some mexico coffees, particularly those from high, growing regions in Chiapas, rival the best Guatemala coffees in high-grown power and complexity.
Mexico is also the origin of many of the certified organically grown coffees now appearing on North American specialty menus. These are often excellent coffees certified by various independent monitoring agencies to be grown without the use of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, or other harmful chemicals.
Coffee from many of the most admired Mexican estates seldom appears on the United States market but is sold almost exclusively in Europe, particularly Germany. Some of these names, should they ever become relevant for the North American aficionado, include Liquidambar, Santa Catarina, Irlandia, Germania, and Humbargo.
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Btw, Eirik mentioned that it is not allowed to import green beans to mexico, so all coffee served is from mexican beans. I found that fact interesting.
I brought some fresh roast "Mexico Liquid Ambar" that I roasted just an hour before the cupping started. This got some compliments when ground, but scored rather low when water was added :). It was too fresh and a lot less complex in taste then the others. It tasted like smoke, cardboard and was flat in taste. Probably my worst drip roast till date. Typical :)
After trying the mexican coffees we cupped some classics that they sell in the coffee bar on a daily basis, like a kenya, monsooned malabar, colombia etc. The best of them was "Kilimanjaro", an El Salvador cup of excellence winner of 2003 if I am not mistaken? It is mentioned in the linked article that Solberg&Hansen bought this coffee for a pretty high price last year. I am quite certain that we sampled this exact coffee. It is very nice, balanced, fruity, candy like. I love it. Try a 250g bag if you live in Oslo. I highly recommend it.
If you want to learn more about cupping then read the nice article "Beginner's Guide to Cupping" that was posted on coffeegeek some time ago. 5/21/2004 11:40:00 PM