June 8, 2017

Mexico Is World of Coffee 2017 Portrait Country


Coffee from Mexico will take the stage at World of Coffee (WOC) 2017 in Budapest, as Mexico is made the event’s Portrait Country. But why Mexico? And what impact do Mexican coffee professionals hope this will have?

SEE ALSO: Meet The People Spreading Specialty Production in Mexico

Mexican coffee farmA coffee farm in Chiapas, Mexico. Credit: University of Michigan SEAS via Flickr, CC BY 2.0 

Coffee Production in Mexico

Mexico is one of the top 10 coffee-producing countries in the world and, according to the SCA, it has over 500,000 smallholder farming families. Most of the country’s coffee is grown in the south, close to Central America, with Veracruz, Chiapas, and Oaxaca being some of the most well-known producing regions.

What’s more, Mexico can produce exceptional coffee. Vera Espíndola Rafael of Mexico’s Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) tells us, “Although in Europe Mexico has not been on the specialty coffee radar, with its 15 producing estates, Mexico has a wide range of diversity in cup profiles. In the Cup of Excellence 2017, in collaboration with AMECAFE and ACE, 6 coffee lots were awarded a presidential price [for being] 90+.”

Jesús Salazar of Cafeólogo adds, “If Mexico is the guest country in Budapest, it is because its coffee and producers have demonstrated in the last five years that we are in an new, blooming era as we share our single origins with the world.

“Among Latin American coffees, Mexico is at the same time both a crown jewel and a giant that is awakening, and there is great hope for the next few years.” (Translated from Spanish to English by Alejandra Muñoz.)

Hopes For The Future of Mexican Coffee Production

Mexico has been hard-hit by coffee leaf rust and poor weather over the past five years. Yet the industry has started to recover.

“Mexico has been through a low production spiral in the last few years; the 2016-2017 harvest already showed progress, producing 3.2 million bags,” Vera Espíndola Rafael explains. In 2015/2016, that figure stood at just 2.2 million bags, according to the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN). This increase in production is a positive sign – one that suggests Mexico may soon return to its pre-slump levels of 4.5 million bags (GAIN).

“After decades of waiting,” Jesús Salazar tells us, “we are looking at the rebirth of a country with so many exquisite origins and coffees that it will take all that remains of the twenty-first century to discover them.” (Translated from Spanish to English by Alejandra Muñoz.)

Mexican coffee bag

Bags of green coffee from Mexico. Credit: Matthew Roth via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0

The Potential Impact for Mexico

Carlos Avendaño of Caffè Pecora tells us that he hopes being placed on the world stage will inspire greater transparency in the Mexican coffee industry. What’s more, he believes it could lead producers to focus on quality production.

“This is good for every coffee producer in our country, because it tells the world that we’re capable of producing great coffee too. [Because of Mexico’s Portrait Country status], it’s a matter of time until more producers are found by specialty buyers. Also, this is motivation for producers to look at their farms and adopt better practices.”

He worries, however, how much of the impact will trickle down. Speaking of the impact of the specialty coffee industry, he tells us, “Being honest – and as a complete chain producer – what I don’t like much is that the status quo remains the same: no added value at the origin, and that is not so good.”

While Carlos has concerns about how much benefit the 500,000 smallholder producers in Mexico will see, others believe Portrait Country status should drive demand for Mexican coffee among consumers.

“It is key to start putting the light on Mexico in the European specialty coffee sector, which will open a door of possibilities for Mexican producers,” says Vera Espindola Rafael. “For Mexico, it is therefore an honour to be this year’s portrait country in Budapest.”

Mexican Coffees at World of Coffee Budapest

Joel Arenas García, a Mexican coffee producer, and representatives from SAGARPA will be hosting cupping sessions of Cup of Excellence coffees at stand E22. This will be open to all attendees. They will also give a talk at the Sustainability Forum.

Perfect Daily Grind

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