While coffee is a many-splendored thing, being something different to everybody that loves it, I think any coffee lover can agree that there can be a very simple joy to it too. Coffee can be rich or complex, booming with flavor or reserved in delicacy.
Every now and then, though, it’s nice to just sit back and relax with an enjoyable cup of coffee—one that doesn’t dazzle or impress you, one that just makes you feel at home.
I don’t think there’s any other region that exemplifies this better than Mexico (except for maybe, of course, El Salvador). Every now and then, to be sure, you will find a Mexican coffee that really stands out, that really makes you stop and notice it. More often than not, though, Mexico provides the simpler pleasures of everybody’s favorite brown liquid.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of El Eden Mexico, from Dark Matter Coffee Company in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
Some friends of Dark Matter—who operate Chicago-based Tiger Orchid Coffee Company—have recently collected several micro-lots from multiple regions all over Mexico and shared them with Dark Matter. The El Eden Mexico represents one of those, as does tomorrow’s—their Santa Cruz Maragogype.
El Eden is a very small cooperative (it only consists of fifteen members) nestled in the heart of Guerrero, Mexico, just northwest of Oaxaca—an area certainly not known as a high-quality coffee producing region of Mexico.
Nonetheless, it is here that co-op runner Miguel and his band of farmers have mastered the natural process for coffee.
This non-traditional Mexican coffee is a testament to the co-op’s dedication. From individual member separation in the processing, to hand sorting of the final product and their organic growth practices, El Eden is setting out to prove that Mexican coffee can be a truly special thing.
This is also a historically volatile region of the country, so to see what the co-op has achieved is even more impressive.
Origin: Guerrero, Mexico
Farm: El Eden
Elevation: 1300 – 1400 meters above sea level
Cultivars: Typica, Bourbon
The aroma of El Eden Mexico is intensely sweet, but finely fragrant as well. It has a fair amount of decadence with big scents of dark chocolate and bakers spices; at the same time, though, it has delicate notes of blackberry, raspberry, and rose hips.
Up front, the coffee is savory sweet, spicy, and roasty; however, this is a delicate coffee that doesn’t overwhelm the palate with big flavors. Raw cocoa dominates each sip, while cinnamon, allspice, and roasted peanuts show up in the finish of each sip, and all of these flavors come rolling in on a sea of creamy salted caramel.
As it cools off, light fruits concentrate and come forward, to the front of each sip: tart raspberry and blackberry, juicy Bartlett pear, crisp red delicious apple, zesty orange peel, lemon, and plum, while roasted almonds still show up in the finish. In the mean time, the mouthfeel dilutes into something more of a silky feeling; it’s juicy because of all the fruits that are now present and the wonderful green grape acidity that’s emerged from the bottom of the cup, but there’s the softness (and flavor) of rose petals present too.
Full body; silky mouthfeel; grape acidity; dry finish.
the bottom line:
Remember what I said about the beginning of this article? About Mexico offering the simple pleasures of coffee? Disregard all of it, because this wasn’t one of those coffees.
El Eden Mexico, from Dark Matter Coffee Company, isn’t a “simple coffee” and it doesn’t offer the “simple pleasure” of a cup of coffee. Rather, it is a complex, fine, and delicate coffee that forces its consumer to really engage with it. I brewed this one up a half dozen times before I finally started to figure it out, and even then, I still hadn’t seen everything it has to offer.
Furthermore, El Eden was a challenging coffee. It was very finicky, particularly in the prep and brewing stages. Each time I made this coffee, I had to make it exactly right; it’s very unforgiving, so if you go too far in one direction or the other, even by the slimmest of margins, while brewing it, you won’t get the cup that you’re meant to get.
When you do get that cup, though… Golly, what a treat. El Eden Mexico is a superb coffee that proves that really great Mexican coffees are like fine white wines.
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.