Santa Cruz Chiapas
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Bourbon, Caturra, Typica—we know these. These are, of course, a few of the more popular coffee varietals that we find in the specialty coffee world. Then there the less-frequent varietals that we very rarely see—Geisha, Pacamara, Villa Sarchi.

One cultivar that has a devoted following and has become more of a coffee romantic’s curiosity is the Maragogype. Lovingly referred to as “the elephant bean” because of its enormity, a Maragogype bean is a lot like a member of the X-Men; or, at least it’s probably the preferred cultivar of both Charles Xavier and Magneto. Maragogype is an anomaly—a mutant cultivar—that was first discovered in Brazil, after spontaneously appearing without explanation. It’s almost as if Brazil, the giant of South America, wanted to grow a coffee that was reflective of itself.

Since its discovery in Maragogipe, Bahia, the cultivar has been transported all over South and Central America. What’s even more interesting about this cultivar is its flavor—while other cultivars, like caturras or typicas or bourbons, generally have a common thread running through their flavor profiles no matter where they’re grown, maragogypes often take on the flavor characteristics of the soil they’re planted in.

In other words, a Maragogype grown in its home of Brazil may not taste anything like the Maragogype we’re sipping today, which was grown in Chiapas, Mexico.

Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Santa Cruz Chiapas, from Dark Matter Coffee Company in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.

To many people, Eduardo Enrique López Aguilar, producer and owner of Finca Santa Cruz, produces one of finest coffees in the world. His family has received numerous awards including runner up in the recent Cup of Excellence competition. Finca Santa Cruz was also named by the Mexican Association of Coffee Production Chain (AMECAFE) Vintage 2010 winner of the coffee quality Robusta Mexico in the category.

This sort of success is to be expected, however, from a family-run farm that has been in the business of producing coffee for nearly 50 years.

The Lopez family originally began planting in 1930 in Oaxaca, but decided to move its location to Concordia, Chiapas because Concordia is considered one of the five best microclimates in the world (and therefore, by the Lopez’s logic, should produce one of the five best coffees in the world).

In 1956, the Lopez family arrived in Concordia, to start the process of growing coffee. They officially opened for business on a May 3—the day of the Holy Cross—which led to the birth of the brand Finca Santa Cruz, Eduardo Enrique López Aguilar explained , producer and owner of the farm.

Finca Santa Cruz currently produces three varieties of coffee beans: 70 percent is the Typica variety and the remaining 30 percent is Bourbon and Maragogype.

the basics:

origin: Concordia, Chiapas, Mexico
farm: Finca Santa Cruz
elevation: 1200 -1400 meters above sea level
cultivars: Maragogype
process: fully washed, patio dried
certifications: Fair Trade, Rain Forest Alliance, Organic, Institute for Marketecology, Japanese Agricultural Standard, Kosher, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center

the coffee:

The Santa Cruz Chiapas starts off with a decadent aroma that booms out of the bag with notes of milk chocolate, cherry pipe tobacco, and roasted almonds.

The flavor of this cup starts off a rush of spices and earthen texture. It has a gritty, earthy mouthfeel that is appropriately accompanied by spicy notes of cedar, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves, with each sip finishing off with a smack of nuts.

As it cools off, the coffee becomes sweeter, fruity, and savory. The mouthfeel has become creamy, and is characterized by an incredible Belgian chocolate truffle and vanilla, while hazelnuts show up in the finish. So, maybe not Belgian chocolate truffle—maybe more like Ferrero Rocher. In the meantime, a very understated lemon acidity bubbles up, rounding out the bottom of the cup.

Full body; creamy mouthfeel; very understated lemon acidity; clean finish.

the bottom line:

The Santa Cruz Chiapas, from Dark Matter Coffee Company, is a classic Latin American comfort coffee. It’s even more of a classic Latin American breakfast coffee.

The folks at Dark Matter summed it up by writing, “I find myself drinking and not thinking about the coffee”; that’s a perfect sentiment for the Santa Cruz—it’s unfair to call it a simple coffee, but I’d certainly classify it as straightforward. It was very easy for me, as a reviewer, to idly drink the coffee while forgetting that I should be scrutinizing it. Its full body fills the belly, its spices and earthiness up front tingle the palate, and its sweet savories make it tasty.

It’s not complex, it’s not challenging, it’s just a pleasurable coffee that doesn’t disappoint.

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