Sierra Mazateca, Oaxaca
Ten farms near Peña Colorada
Typica, Mundo Novo, Bourbon
Though a fairly common find on the shelves in North America, Mexican coffees have not enjoyed the same popularity in Europe. With a land mass eight times larger than the UK, there are many microclimates across Mexico which produce coffees distinct to their regions. The south of Mexico is very mountainous, its topography formed by ranges of volcanic activity which stretch throughout the country and across the border into Central America. The state of Oaxaca (pronounced wa-ha-ka), known for its indigenous peoples and cultures, amazing food, and biological diversity, has an extremely rugged terrain which has protected the region from outsiders over the years. The altitude, soil, and mild temperatures in the Oaxacan highlands make it a perfect region for cultivating specialty quality, yet the area’s coffee production has been in decline for several years.
Oaxaca’s cool temperatures encourage slow cherry maturation but also low yields, with the state having some of the lowest per hectare yields in all of Mexico. Frost damage can also be an issue here, as can leaf rust and other pests. The steep terrain and remote locations of many farms make exportation difficult, and most farmers in the area speak only Mazatecan or other indigenous languages, making coordination a bit tougher. Producers, struggling to make ends meet, have been leaving their farms or switching to more profitable crops, many without a younger generation to take over the family business. Sadly, the long term outlook for Oaxaca looks bleak without significant investment.
Raw Material, a social enterprise importer and long term partner of Caravan, recognising the issues above as immediate threats to the health, welfare, and future existence of Mexico’s coffee farmers, have begun working in the Oaxaca region. Their focus will begin with raising yields, improving quality, and connecting producers with roasters who are committed to seeing a better future for coffee producers in Oaxaca.
This release from Peña Colorada comes from a collection of ten coffee producers located in and around the town of the same name. All the coffee is washed and dried at each farm, often on hand operated equipment, and dried on traditional woven mats called petates. Working with Raw Material and their partners in Mexico, these farmers receive a price which is 2 to 5 times the local intermediary price per kilogram (differences based on quality). Alongside their other projects to build better communal infrastructure, this pricing structure brings economic security to farmers and predictable gains from their investment into quality and yield improvements.
For a Hario V60 02: Pre-rinse the filter and grind 25g coffee as fine as table-salt. Bloom with 50g of 96c fresh, soft water and stir. At 30s begin to pour to 400g for a 1:16 ratio, finishing at 1:45. Stir the top of the slurry in a circle twice and allow to draw down, aiming for 2:30-3:00 minute total brewing time.