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4 Best Mexican Coffee Beans (Top Brands and Buying Guide)

Think specialty coffee, and your immediate thought probably isn’t Mexico. But you’d be surprised to know that the country produces some high-altitude coffees that can stand proud among the best beans in the world.

As always, the trick is knowing which beans to buy. Read on for some of the best Mexican coffee beans. You might just discover your new favorite coffee.

At A Glance:

The best Mexican coffee brands in 2022

The rise in popularity of specialty coffees from Mexico has seen the emergence of some genuinely excellent beans come on to the market.

image product details
Best Overall Best Overall volcanica coffee Volcanica Mexican Organic Coffee
  • Medium roast
  • Chiapas region
  • 100% Arabica
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Best Altura Best Altura Out of the Grey Mexican Custepec SHG Out of the Grey Mexican Custepec SHG
  • Medium-Dark roast
  • Chiapas region
  • Caturra
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Budget Pick Budget Pick parisi Parisi Mexico Oaxaca Coffee Beans
  • Medium roast
  • Oaxaca region
  • Bourbon, Typica, Mundo Novo
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Best Value For Money Best Value For Money Velton’s Mexico Nayarita Velton’s Mexico Nayarita
  • Light roast
  • Nayarit region
  • Typica, Caturra
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Here are some of the brands we think are doing justice to Mexico’s unique and exciting harvest.

1. Volcanica Mexican Organic Coffee – Best Coffee from Mexico

Specifications

  • Roast level: Medium

  • Region: Chiapas
  • Varietal(s): 100% Arabica
  • Processing: Washed
  • Tasting notes: Hazelnut, earthy, cocoa
  • Available as: Whole bean, ground coffee

If you’re a fan of premium beans from some of the world’s best coffee-growing regions, then the Volcanica Coffee brand will probably be familiar to you. As the name suggests, it focuses on volcanic areas, where the mineral-rich soil is perfect for growing top-quality beans. You’ll find more than 100 different single origins, peaberry, flavored coffee, and estate coffee, including Honduran beans and the highly prized Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

All beans are sustainably sourced, with Volcanica working directly with farms or collectives – in this case, from several smallholder farms in the Chiapas region. These certified organic and fair trade beans highlight the nutty, chocolatey flavor notes typical of the area. The sweetness of hazelnut and the earthiness of the cocoa creates a smooth and balanced cup of coffee with medium acidity. Volcanica also offers these organic Mexican beans as a dark roast, which brings out sweeter flavors such as brown sugar and maple syrup.

Once the whole bean coffee is shipped back to Volcanica headquarters, it’s given a medium roast with an eco-friendly Ovenpak 400 afterburner. Using natural gas helps to control the smoke and harmful gas waste generated as part of the roasting process, resulting in a much smaller carbon footprint. The freshly roasted coffee is shipped within one day so that you can enjoy it at its best.

2. Out of the Grey Mexican Custepec SHG – Best Altura

Specifications

  • Roast level: Medium-Dark

  • Region: Chiapas
  • Varietal(s): Caturra
  • Processing: Washed
  • Tasting notes: Dark chocolate, nuts, caramel
  • Available as: Both

The high mountains of Mexico provide the environment for the top quality beans that are grown here, the highest grade of which are SHG or Strictly High Grown beans. SGH coffee is grown at alittdes over 1,200 meters (4,000 feet), where the slower development of the beans results in a more concentrated flavor.

The Custepec name is associated with top-quality high-altitude beans. The original Finca Custepec was founded in 1956 in the Cuspatec Valley in the Chiapas region. It has since grown into a coffee cooperative that maintains the same standards of the original farm.

Finca Alamo, where these beans are sourced is a new addition to the Custepec group. They grow Caturra beans between patches of rainforest at altitudes of 3,600-4,100 feet. The resulting harvest is a coffee typical of the Chiapas region, with a creamy and nutty flavor palate with caramel sweetness.

3. Parisi Mexico Oaxaca Coffee Beans – Budget Pick

Specifications

  • Roast level: Medium

  • Region: Oaxaca
  • Varietal(s): Bourbon, Typica, Mundo Novo
  • Processing: Washed
  • Tasting notes: Caramel, chocolate, roasted peanuts
  • Available as: Whole bean, ground coffee

In the southern part of Oaxaca, you’ll find some of the highest mountains in the state, where the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range passes through. This area is known for its incredible biodiversity, which, combined with the high altitude and good rainfall, creates a prime environment for coffee production. These beans are sourced from several small farms in the area, which use traditional wash processing to allow the true flavor of the bean to shine.

This coffee hits big with the more earthy and nutty notes, rather than the fruit-leaning flavor that you might expect. A medium roast brings out tastes of chocolate and roasted peanuts, with a sweetness in caramel and nougat. 

It’s ideal for any pour-over coffee maker but also makes a delicious cold brew.

The Parisi family founded their roasting business in 2006, drawing on their coffee-loving Italian heritage. Originally set up to serve local restaurants and grocery stores, it’s now developed into a large-scale roastery and two branded cafes. To help maintain quality at every stage of the process, Parisi has on staff CQI Licensed Q Graders and a former World Barista Champion (1).

4. Velton’s Mexico Nayarita – Best Value for Money

Specifications

  • Roast level: Light

  • Region: Nayarit
  • Varietal(s): Typica, Caturra
  • Processing: Natural
  • Tasting notes: Apricot, chocolate, strawberry
  • Available as: Both

Outside of Mexico’s four main growing regions, you’ll find other small pockets of the country producing coffee. One of these is the state of Nayarit on the west coast, which is emerging as a contender for specialty beans.

The coffee here dates back to a group of French families who started the first farms in the 1860s. Many of the heirloom Typicas from this time are still grown, which are characterized by a large bean size and a balanced cup.

Velton’s Mexico Nayarita has a fruitier flavor profile than what’s typical of growing regions further south in the country. After brewing, you’ll pick up an aroma of strawberry shortcake, with apricot and milk chocolate flavors coming through on the palate. It has a smooth and silky body that makes it ideal for espresso with a splash of milk.

Choosing The Best Mexican Coffee

Mexican coffee hasn’t always had a reputation for quality, particularly in North America. In the past, it was only the lower grade beans that made it here, with the cream of the crop finding its way to European countries. But by knowing a little about how beans are grown in Mexico, you can ensure you’ll be buying a coffee you love.

Coffee Growning Region of Mexico
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A Brief History of Coffee in Mexico

The birth of coffee growing in Mexico goes back to the late 1700s when the Spanish imported coffee from the Dominican Republic and Cuba. It wasn’t until nearly a century later that it was produced for export, with the beans generally coming from large plantations owned by European settlers. 

Sentiment against large private landholdings remains strong.

After the Mexican Revolution, these haciendas were broken up and the land redistributed to indigenous laborers, creating small-scale farms that still exist today. By the 1970s, the Mexican government realized the potential of the country’s crops and set up INMECAFE to help provide support for farmers, resulting in a production increase of up to 900% in some areas (2). 

Following government reform in the late ’80s, INMECAFE was defunded. At the same time, the international coffee market collapsed, and Mexico’s farmers were left without a way to sell their crops. It’s only recently that the industry is recovering, primarily due to the interest in specialty beans.

The Power of the Cooperative

Farmers’ cooperatives began to emerge after the coffee industry crashed. Farmers needed a line to the global market, and large buyers weren’t willing to negotiate with such small producers individually. 

[The cooperatives] have come to represent islands of self-determination within a political spectrum that barely recognizes their existence.

Cooperatives weren’t just a way of selling their beans, but also exploring more lucrative markets. Organic farming was traditionally the default for Mexican growers, and thanks to the work of cooperatives, the country now is one of the world’s biggest producers of organic coffee (3). The support to earn Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certifications also helps farmers to fetch higher prices.

When you buy Mexican coffee you’ll notice it’s branded by cooperative, rather than estate.

Mexican Coffee Flavor
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Growing Regions and Flavor Profiles

The bulk of Mexican coffee beans comes from just four states, all found in the country’s south. These parts all benefit from mountainous terrain and rich volcanic soils but vary in climate. Specialty Mexican beans are generally known for having a light body with bright, dry acidity and sweetness. Flavor notes can run from fruity and floral to tastes of chocolate or nuts, depending on the region.

But it’s not just the geography that differentiates coffee from these areas. Some states have adopted modern technology and varietals, while others are proud to continue with traditional methods and plants.

Mexican Chiapas Coffee Beans

Mexico’s best-known coffee producer is also its biggest, supplying around 40% of its total. The hot, wet climate results in what many consider the best Mexican coffees, known to score above 90 at the Cup of Excellence. Flavors here tend toward cocoa and nuts, with a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Mexican Chiapas beans were awarded protected denomination of origin in 2003 (4).

Veracruz Coffee Beans

This was the first state in Mexico to grow coffee, and the crop remains a vital source of income for the region. Veracruz produces some unremarkable coffee in the low-lying coastal regions, but beans from the mountainous area are highly sought after, particularly the Altura Coatepec beans. Denomination of origin applies to Veracruz coffee grown above 2,460 feet (5). Veracruz beans offer notes of chocolate and nuts, with a medium body and more pronounced acidity.

Oaxaca Coffee Beans

Much of Oaxaca is blessed with high-altitude, thanks to the convergence of several mountain ranges. And it’s here that some of Mexico’s most distinctive and in-demand beans are produced. You’ll find this coffee is milder than most, with light citrus acidity and sweet caramel overtones. Coffee grown in Pluma Hidalgo (known as Oaxaca Plume) is the most prestigious.

Puebla Coffee Beans

Puebla grows just 15% of the country’s coffee, but should not be overlooked as a producer. Thanks to the prevalence of volcanoes in the state (some of them active), the terrain is rich with minerals that coffee plants love. Beans from Puebla will develop the tastes of cocoa and spice, with notes of vanilla and citrus.

The Verdict

Mexican coffee beans have so much potential that it deserves exploring, particularly if you appreciate subtle flavors. The Volcanica Mexican Organic is an accessible coffee from a company with a good reputation. But you’ll have just as much fun with any of the beans on our list.

volcanica coffee

FAQs

Cafe de olla is the traditional way of preparing coffee in Mexico. Meaning “coffee from a pot”, it’s ground coffee brewed together with spices and piloncillo sugar. If you want to try it at home, read our guide to preparing this Mexican coffee drink.

Mexican coffee is not strong in flavor but is prized for its delicate body and bright acidity. In terms of caffeine, Mexican beans will be on par with those from most other countries and will vary depending on the brewing method (6).

Protected designation of origin (PDO) is a label applied to food and wine linked to a particular region (7). An example of this would be champagne, which applies only to sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France.

  1. Chi Siamo {Who We Are}. Parisi Coffee. (n.d.). https://parisicoffee.com/pages/family
  2. History of Coffee in Mexico. Equal Exchange. (n.d.). https://equalexchange.coop/history-of-coffee-in-mexico
  3. Thelmadatter, L. (2021, January 14). Mexico Is One of the Top Two Organic Coffee Producers. Expats In Mexico. https://www.expatsinmexico.com/mexico-is-one-of-the-top-two-organic-coffee-producers
  4. Chiapas Coffee: quality organic coffee with worldwide prestige. Mexicanist. (2021, June 2). https://www.mexicanist.com/l/chiapas-coffee/
  5. 16 protected denomination of origin items which can only be produced in Mexico. The Yucatan Times. (2018, April 30) https://www.theyucatantimes.com/2018/04/16-protected-denomination-of-origin-items-which-can-only-be-produced-in-mexico
  6. Menezes, R. (2018, October 12). How Different Brew Methods Affect Caffeine Extraction. KRUVE. https://www.kruveinc.com/blogs/main/how-different-brew-methods-affect-caffeine-extraction
  7. Quality schemes explained. European Commission . (2021, May 6). https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/food-safety-and-quality/certification/quality-labels/quality-schemes-explained_en
Jovana D
I come from a country where people drink domestic coffee (what the rest of the world knows as Turkish coffee) and where Nescafe designates all instant coffees ever made. So, imagine my first encounter with, say, Hario V60...Yes, it was love at first sight.  Today I’m a moderate coffee connoisseur and a huge coffee lover. My favorite brewing methods are the V60 and traditional espresso-making. Yet, despite my country’s long tradition of Turkish-coffee-adoring, I somehow cannot stand it. That’s just too dark, even for me.

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