Mexico is a classic case of a country that doesn’t often play to its strengths. As someone who was born in Mexico City and who regularly visits, I can easily get frustrated when I think of how much potential is wasted largely by inept politicians like the idiot of a President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and countless corrupt officials. If only Mexico was run smarter and wasn’t mired in drug-fuelled violence that only seems to be getting worse, it would be so much richer and stronger. Oh well.
In some ways, the same can be said of Mexican specialty coffee, something that was largely unknown or ignored in much of the international specialty coffee community. I vividly remember interviewing former Stumptown VP Matt Lounsbury in 2015 who said: “Americans didn’t want Mexican coffee because it was not exotic enough.” That statement struck me as so bizarre given that most Americans have never been to Mexico and probably have little to no knowledge of its diverse geography.
And so Mexican specialty coffee remained largely obscure but thankfully, the country of 126.7 million has an affluent middle class and a growing sense of awareness of and pride in locally made products. Over the years, I witnessed a fast-growing specialty coffee scene take root all over the country, from Tijuana to Oaxaca and from San Miguel Allende to Merida. At the center of it all, is the capital, where many leading roasters are located, including Quentin who we first featured in our Global Coffeevine box last year.
Now, it’s the turn to shine for yet another brilliant Mexico City based roaster, Jiribilla, a company that was founded in 2017 by Yarismeth Barrientos and Carlos De la Torre. Their goal, after a combined ten years of working with coffee, was to prove that setting up a roastery in a coffee producing country can be a massive advantage.
I witnessed this myself several times while visiting coffee bars and roasters all over the country. Whereas in Europe where coffee doesn’t really grow, you are presented with a wide range of beans from many origin countries to choose from, in Mexico, you are offered coffees grown in different Mexican states. Think of Chiapas, Veracruz, Puebla, Oaxaca, Guerrero and more. Each state has its unique geographic and biodiversity makeup, from subtropical Chiapas to arid Puebla and thus, each state’s coffees offer completely unique characteristics.
As a roaster based in Mexico, you are able to build and nuture enviably close relationships with coffee producers who are often just a few hours drive away. This proximity allows coffee professionals to visit farms on a regular basis and to learn about their intricate production processes first hand. Whereas European roasters and green coffee buyers need to turn these visits into week long trips, Mexicans can spend a weekend away visiting their local farms and be back in the roastery by Monday.
Jiribilla, like other roasters, uses this to its own advantage and over the year, has become a global ambassador of fine Mexican coffees. Not so long ago, I came across their coffees at Black Fox in New York, for example, and in February, The Coffeevine will be the first European coffee subscription company to feature Jiribilla. As a Mexican, I am immensly proud that I can showcase my home country’s output like this and offer it a chance to show off one of its strengths.
The coffee that we picked for the February 2024 Global roasters selection is from Veracruz based producer Arturo Sandoval who runs Finca Los Amigos. He is known for his red-honeys, which have a lovely cup profile with notes of black tea and blackberry. Jiribilla has worked with Arturo for more than five years and his coffee is the first of the Sarchimor variety that we are featuring in any of our boxes.
This will be a moment to brew, sip and shout ‘ARRIBA’!
To receive this outstanding coffee, order our Global coffee roasters one-off box for February or the Total Package with our entire selection for February. Pre-orders close on 15.02.2024 / Ships globally on 20.02.2024