Nestled in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico lies a coffee-growing region that has been capturing the hearts of specialty coffee enthusiasts worldwide. Pronounced "wah-HA-ka," this region is situated in the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range, with altitudes ranging from 900 to 1,600 meters above sea level. An interesting fact about Oaxaca is that it is one of the most biologically diverse areas in Mexico, contributing to the unique flavors of the coffee grown here.
Coffee was first introduced to Mexico in the late 18th century, but it wasn't until the mid-19th century that it made its way to Oaxaca. Since then, coffee has become an integral part of Oaxaca's economy and cultural identity. The region's coffee production has experienced numerous challenges, including political unrest and a devastating coffee leaf rust outbreak in the 1980s. However, Oaxaca's resilience and dedication to quality coffee have allowed it to emerge as a prominent player in the specialty coffee scene.
In Oaxaca, coffee is primarily grown by smallholder farmers who cultivate their crops on plots of land averaging just a few hectares in size. These farmers often belong to cooperatives or associations, which provide them with resources and support to improve their coffee quality and implement sustainable farming practices.
There is limited information available about specific processing methods used in Oaxaca, but generally, coffee in Mexico is processed using the washed method. This involves removing the coffee cherry's pulp and skin before fermenting the beans in water for a set amount of time. The beans are then washed and dried, either in the sun or using mechanical dryers. This method results in a clean, bright flavor profile that allows the coffee's unique characteristics to shine through.
Coffees from Oaxaca are celebrated for their complex and well-balanced flavor profiles. Typically, they feature bright acidity, medium to full body, and a pleasant sweetness. Some common tasting notes include red fruit, chocolate, nuts, and floral undertones. The region's biodiversity and variations in altitude contribute to the diverse range of flavors found in Oaxacan coffees.
One notable coffee-producing area within Oaxaca is the Pluma Hidalgo region. Coffees from this area are often characterized by their unique flavor profile, featuring notes of tropical fruit, citrus, and a distinct, wine-like acidity.
Oaxaca's rich history, dedicated farmers, and diverse landscapes have all played a role in creating the exceptional coffees we can enjoy today. Specialty coffee enthusiasts who have yet to experience the unique flavors of Oaxacan coffee should not hesitate to explore this fascinating region's offerings. Whether savoring a bright and fruity Pluma Hidalgo coffee or a chocolatey, nutty blend from another part of Oaxaca, one thing is for sure – this region's coffees are not to be missed.