Mexico is one of the largest coffee producers in the world. That will surprise those who think it’s all about South America, but 234,000 tons annually puts the country high up on the overall list.
It also scores highly for the quality of its arabica beans. Traditionally the industry is dominated by small, indigenous communities. That’s because when the coffee industry was established in the late eighteenth century the land wasn’t parcelled up for large companies. This contrasts with what happened in the Caribbean, and among banana producers in other central American countries.
So small farms are tucked away in the mountains and the remote countryside. And one of those is the Don Pepe estate, in the south-eastern Veracruz region. I’ve picked them as the supplier of beans for our ‘Monte Azul’ blend.
It’s a great family company, established in 1994 by José Gorbeña Morenco in Córdoba. They operate a dry mill in Huatusco, having moved headquarters there, and own a wet mill as well to ensure control over the quality of the beans they produce. Overall, the company exports over 50,000 bags annually and domestically sell a further 70,000 bags.
It’s a painstaking process. The ripe cherry arabica beans for the harvest are picked by hand. Pickers rotate between trees every 7–12 days to pick the beans at their peak of ripeness. These are then taken to the warehouse, where they are packed in natural jute bags and stored at a controlled temperature to ensure quality.
The beans I’ve chosen for my single-origin coffee from Don Pepe are known as Catarra – a natural mutation of the bourbon variety – and Typica. Catarra performs better at high altitude and can give coffee of exceptional quality, but requires care and attention. Both are pre-washed. I’ve given it a medium roast to give the best platform for the range of flavours and qualities of these beans.
The end result is a rich taste of cocoa and hazelnut with medium body and fine, balanced acidity. This backs up the range of flavours with a smooth finish. It’s an outstanding single-origin coffee.