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Mexican Coffee: Your Guide To Production and Cafe de Olla

Mexican Coffee: cafe de Ella and mexican bread

Mexico is among the largest producers of coffee in Latin America. From 2015 to 2021, coffee production increased 4% and trends indicate that Mexico will continue to claim a greater share of the coffee market in the years to come. With the increased growth, new coffee players and brands are hitting the scene with fun takes on classic harvesting and roasting processes.

Learn more about Mexican coffee and what makes it unique right here. From the best coffee bean brands from Mexico to the different growing regions, you’ll discover why this nation just south of the border makes some of the best java around.

Mexican Coffee Growing Regions

Mexican farmer with harvest

There are 15 different states that cultivate and produce coffee in Mexico. Most of the US’s coffee imports today come from Mexico. It’s also the number one producer of organic and fair trade coffees in the world. Coffee is mostly grown in the southern and central portions of the country. Producers largely use high-quality arabica beans rather than robusta beans.

The largest coffee-producing region is Chiapas which produces 40% of the country’s coffee. Veracruz and Puebla are the next two largest producers with 25% and 16%, respectively. Around one-third of coffee produced in Mexico is high-quality, high-altitude coffee. These coffees have rich, nuanced flavors thanks to the unique climate and soil conditions. 

The coffee harvest season typically starts in September and ends in March. Most traditional coffee farms use manual labor to pick the coffee cherries, though some larger producers use machinery to speed up the process.

History of Mexican Coffee

Like in most coffee-producing countries, coffee production has survived through political turmoil and climate upheaval. Mexico got its first coffee plants from Spaniards who brought them over from Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The first plants made it to Mexico in the 1700s, but it wasn’t until the 1860s that coffee production really began taking off.

During a border dispute with Guatemala — another coffee-producing nation — Mexico began to claim and register land. This land was put up for auction and many wealthy Europeans made investments and began small coffee plantations. They used locals who believed they owned the land as cheap labor until labor laws passed in 1914 freed these individuals from what was basically indentured servitude.

At the same time, the Mexican Revolution was taking place. The government began incentivizing farms and agriculture. Many of these former servants began opening up their own farms and cultivating coffee. Many locals bought back land from Europeans and a coffee boom ensued. This lasted until the 1990s when coffee prices collapsed due to a mix of problems including coffee plant disease. As a result, many farms created co-ops and began focusing on organic and fair trade coffees to distinguish Mexican quality. Today, Mexico is one of the top 10 coffee-producing nations and is a success story of how cultivation can survive economic, political, and environmental pressures.

The Taste of Mexican Coffee

Cafe de Ella with cinnamon and coffee

Mexican coffee flavors vary depending on where and how the beans are cultivated and roasted. In general, Mexican coffees tend to have a dry body and acidic finish. The beans impart a hint of fruity, earthy, and spicy notes with a touch of sweetness. The high-altitude coffees offer a flavor similar to Guatemalan coffees — with sweet notes and complex tasting profiles.

How to Make Mexican Coffee (The Cinnamon Drink)

Thus far, we’ve covered Mexican coffee as an agricultural product from the country of Mexico. However, Mexican coffee can also refer to a delicious brewed coffee drink that features cinnamon as the start ingredient. It’s also known as cafe de olla. The drink is popular at brunch and can be made using whole coffee beans as well as ground coffee.

Equipment

You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to make a Mexican coffee. All you need is a coffee tool that brews coffee. You can use an affordable coffee maker, a French Press, or a fancy espresso machine. Below, you’ll find the ingredients you need a quick run-down of how to make this drink recipe.

Ingredients

To make this coffee drink, you’ll need to add a few things to your shopping list. A Mexican coffee cocktail contains chocolate, cinnamon, and fresh roasted coffee — from Mexico of course! To make it, just add coffee grounds and ground cinnamon to a coffee filter and brew as normal. 

While waiting, you can heat up heavy cream or milk, chocolate syrup, and piloncillo in a small saucepan. Piloncillo is unrefined whole cane sugar. It’s also called Mexican brown sugar or panela. Add a dash of vanilla extract and pour into a coffee mug. Add the brewed coffee and voila! A delicious Mexican coffee cocktail. Garnish with a cinnamon stick or orange peel and top with whipped cream.

Mix It Up 

You can also adjust this Mexican coffee recipe to be even more indulgent — like a coffee beer. Make it like an Irish coffee and add in a coffee liqueur like Kahlua. Alternatively, you can add a few ounces of tequila from your favorite local producer. For an Italian flair, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a new rendition of the classic affogato. Make it like a hot chocolate iced coffee by mixing chilled milk and cold brew coffee with a touch of cinnamon and chocolate powder. Remember, the total fat content, cholesterol, carbohydrates, and nutrition information will change as you add ingredients — just in case you need to keep dietary restrictions in mind.

Head South of the Border for Incredible Coffee

ceramic vase with brown cane sugar and cinnamon

Known for having a gentle body, soft, citrus sweetness and acidic finish, Mexican coffee is truly to die for. It’s a low-note coffee making it ideal for use as a single-origin brew or in a blend with a brighter note like Ethiopian coffee.

Want to learn more about your coffee? Check out our country guides, where you’ll learn how each coffee-producing nations creates unique flavor profiles. Plus, you’ll find beginner guides to different coffee drinks as well as recipes on different ways to make a hot coffee or nitro cold brew.