A few weeks ago, while ambling through the aisles of Coffee Fest at Navy Pier here in Chicago, I got a Tweet from somebody urging me to come visit them at Booth (whatever number it was) to join them for a cup of coffee. Of course I scooted over in that direction the first chance I got.
After shaking some hands and talking at length about their company and their coffee, I took a sip of the next cup they gave me; my eyes opened wide, I smacked my lips, and exclaimed, “Wow! This is really, really good. What is this?”
The coffee was so good, I practically scoffed at their reply.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today, we are sipping Mexico Coatepec, from Kaldi’s Coffee of St. Louis, Missouri. Feel free to pull up a chair.
It’s no secret that Mexican coffees, as a whole, are really hit-and-miss. For every moderate to good cup you’ll find there, you’ll find a half dozen awful ones. While beans that come from Oaxaca or Chiapas are mostly okay (sometimes you’ll find an exceptional Oaxaca), beans that come from Coatepec or Ayotec are almost always subpar.
And don’t even get me started on Veracruz…
That’s why I was so incredulous at the guys from Kaldi’s Coffee telling me that I was sipping a Mexican coffee from Coatepec, Veracruz. I told them I was so surprised because I can’t even remember the last time I had a Mexican coffee that I thought was good; I’ve had a few that were so-so and several that were terrible, but I can’t recall the last time I reacted so positively to a Mexican coffee.
“The same goes for us,” one of them replied. “We actually haven’t even carried one in a long time! But we couldn’t pass this one up—it’s too good.”
The Mexico Coatepec is the first Mexican coffee that Kaldi’s Coffee has carried in four years. As I mentioned, it comes from the colonial village of Coatepec, Veracruz; the name Coatepec comes from the Nahuatl coatl (“serpent”) and tepetl (“hill”) (“the hill where the snakes are”). As terrifying as that sounds, Coatepec is also referred to as the coffee capital of Mexico.
This coffee is grown by smallholder growers. It’s unique in that these growers deliver ripe red cherries to their mill while the rest of the country delivers pergamino (parchment coffee) to the mill. After delivery, the cherries are then removed from the bean in a huge mill at the co-op. Most coffee farmers use a hand-crank mill at their farm to remove the cherry pulp. Using the mill at the co-op ensures a more consistent bean with better quality control.
origin: Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico
farm: Smallholder farmers
elevation: 1200-1400 meters above sea level
cultivars: Bourbon, Typica, and Caturra
process: fully washed, patio dried
The aroma coming out of the bag is very sweet and pleasing. It’s fruity, it’s floral, it’s got a small touch of cocoa powder. When I start brewing it, though, it’s like the water sets off a bomb of grapes and floral aromatics; they come bursting out of the V60 like an explosion and fill the entire kitchen.
The first few sips of the Coatepec are delicious. It starts off with a belly of cocoa nibs that hits the tip and sides of the tongue, while a faint hint of floral notes flit in over the top, brushing up against the roof of my mouth. As the cup cools off a bit, it gets a bit fruity as white pear and apricot come bubbling up from under the surface.
When the cup reaches room temperature, it becomes very sweet indeed, with the cocoa flavors being replaced by brown sugar and the fruit being dialed up a notch or two: pear, apricot, apple, peach. Now, a massively juicy green grape and slightly limy acidity emerges; it’s highly acidic, but not totally overpowering—it’s balanced, being rounded out by brown sugar and honey flavors.
Light-bodied; high acidity; light, syrupy mouthfeel; slightly dry finish.
the bottom line:
Every now and then, as a coffee reviewer, I come across a cup that really surprises me. The Mexio Coatepec, from Kaldi’s Coffee, is definitely one of those. I, for one, still have a hard time believing that this coffee comes from Veracruz!
This cup is so light and delicate and refined, with crystal clarity and fantastic flavors of pear, green grape, and brown sugar. It’s definitely worth checking out—its quality far surpasses just about all of the Mexican coffees I’ve had in the past couple years, and I think it even holds its own when compared to its neighboring regions.
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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.