Mexico Coffee Overview | Coffee Inside

Coffee has been planted in Mexico since the late 1700s, and most of the country’s coffee now comes from the country’s southern region where the continent becomes narrower and bends to the east. Mexico is bursting with potential. The climate and altitude conditions are excellent for specialty coffee, and every year more efforts are made to not just find it, but improve it.

Coffee production in Mexico

  • Altitude Range: 800 – 1700 MASL
  • Language Spoken: Spanish
  • Harvest: November – March
  • Annual Coffee Production: 3,900,000 bags (Crop 2013 – ICO)
  • Common Varieties: 90% Arabica, Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, Mundo Novo, Maragogype, Catimor, Catuai and Garnica. 10% Robusta.
  • Avg Farm Size: Small farms less than 25 hectares.
  • Processing: Washed and some natural.
Map coffee in Mexico - Coffee inside
Map coffee in Mexico – Coffee inside

History of Mexico Coffee

At the end of the 18th century, coffee was first introduced into Veracruz, a state in Mexico. In 1954, when the price of coffee peaked as it emerged in the international market, production was moved to Mexico, where it cost significantly less. Since coffee has been introduced into Chiapas at the end of the 19th century, it has become the major region of coffee cultivation in Mexico. During the early 1980s, coffee plantations in Mexico spread rapidly over 12 states.
In 1982, the total amount of land in Mexico used for coffee production was 497,456 hectares. In addition, during the 1970s and 1980s, coffee production played a significant role in the national economy and became a major source of income for more than two million people in Mexico. Coffee plantations contributed to Mexican export trade with a great amount of foreign currency. At the same time, the commercialized coffee industry offered many employment opportunities in Mexico.

Instituto Mexicano del Cafe (INMECAFE)

The Mexican Coffee Institute (Instituto Mexicano del Cafe) – INMECAFE, was a government regulated agency, responsible for providing technical assistance, administrating the Mexican export quotas of coffee, and keeping coffee price high and stable in the market. Because of the INMECAFE efforts to integrate new land into coffee cultivation, coffee productivity rapidly increased. As the result, the three main states, Chiapas, Veracruz and Oaxaca, contributed 73% of the total amount of agriculture land for coffee production.

Between 1970 and 1982, the Mexican agriculture land devoted to coffee production increased by 141,203 hectares and national coffee production has grown approximately 6,000 tons of green coffee per year. In addition, INMECAFE encouraged the use of agrochemical technologies and the organization provided technical assistance to farmers in order to achieve higher productivity. Respectively, 50% of coffee cultivation in Chiapas, 22% in Veracruz, and 22% in Oaxaca has accepted the technical assistance from INMECAFE. INMECAFE’s technical assistance covered approximately 28% of coffee production regions in Mexico in 1982.

In 1989 INMECAFE disintegrated after president Carlos Salinas de Gortari declared that the Mexican government would give up control of its coffee market while they respond to the World Bank and other international financial institutions’ construction adjustments. This policy change left farmers without protection from the highly voilatable international coffee price and had devastating effects especially for small-scale producers.

See more Coffee production in Mexico from Wikipedia

Coffee crisis emerged in Mexico.

The International Coffee Agreement (ICA), created in 1962, was a protocol for maintaining coffee export countries’ quotas and keeping coffee prices high and stable in the market. However, ICA was dismantled in 1989, and as a result of the deficiency in management, coffee has been overproduced while coffee prices continuously fell, and a coffee crisis emerged in Mexico. The coffee crisis intensified between 1999 and 2003 and generated huge social and economic problems in Mexico. Between 1989 and 1995, the coffee production declined by 6.6% in Mexico, the Coordination of Coffee Grower Organizations predicted that coffee producers would have lost 65% of their income since the crisis happened.

As a consequence of having lower income, 71% of coffee producers in Mexico ceased to use fertilizers, 40% of them reduced the maintenance to weeding, and 75% of them stopped investing in pest prevention. As a result of the poor maintenance on coffee plantations, the quality of coffee declined and coffee production decreased. By the end of 2005, Mexico saw its lowest exported shipment of coffee in the past three decades, totaling 1.7 million bags. During 2006, coffee export in Mexico has grown to 4.2 million bags, but it was still low, compared to 5 years ago.

Mexico’s Coffee Growing Regions

Mexican coffee is classified by altitude, and much of the country’s coffee is used for blending and/or dark-roasted coffees. Coffee has been planted in Mexico since the late 1700s, and most of the country’s coffee now comes from the country’s southern region where the continent becomes narrower and bends to the east.

Mexican Chiapas Coffee

Chiapas coffee is grown in the southern state of Chiapas and distinguished for its light, delicate flavor and rich, brisk acidity with a light to medium body. The hot, tropical climate has great growing conditions and produces a fairly consistent content.

Particularly notable is the Chiapas coffee grown in the state’s southeast corner in the mountainous region near the Guatemalan border, and often labeled with the market name Tapachula, the name of the nearby town. Volcanos nearby have provided fertile soil that improves nutrient delivery to the coffees, helping develop their flavors. A fine Chiapas coffee is said to rival the complexity and power of the finer Guatemalan coffees.

Veracruz Coffee

On the gulf side of Mexico’s central mountain range is Veracruz State where most of the coffee is grownin the lowlands and is unremarkable. These coffees tend to grow at lower altitude due to the Northern latitude and Pacific influence where the state lies, but still have high-altitude characteristics in the cup. Coffee is grown between 1100 – 1400 masl.

Coffee was introduced to Mexico through Veracruz at the end of the 18th Century. It is still one of the most important agricultural products in the state. This state tends to have a more humid climate throughout the year.

Oaxaca Coffee

Oaxaca has sixteen different indigenous groups that have preserved their culture and traditions.  This is in part due to the rugged and isolated geography of the state.  It is also considered one of the three most biologically diverse states in the country of Mexico.

Other regions in Mexico: Colima, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico State, Nayarit, Puebla, and San Luis Potosi

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