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4 Best Mexican Coffee Bean Brands (Top Picks and Buying Guide)

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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 2021

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

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Best Overall Best Overall
volcanica coffee
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Volcanica Mexican Organic Coffee
  • Medium roast
  • Chiapas region
  • 100% Arabica
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Best Organic Best Organic
Organic Mexico Grapos Reserva
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Wonderstate Organic Mexico Grapos Reserva
  • Light roast
  • Chiapas region
  • Caturra, Bourbon, Marsellesa, Typica
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Budget Pick Budget Pick
parisi
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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
CERE-1075
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Ceremony Mexico Coatepec
  • Medium-light roast
  • Veracruz region
  • Typica, Bourbon, 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 Overall

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. Wonderstate Organic Mexico Grapos Reserva – Best Organic

Specifications

  • Roast level: Light

  • Region: Chiapas
  • Varietal(s): Caturra, Bourbon, Marsellesa, Typica
  • Processing: Natural
  • Tasting notes: Cocoa nibs, Meyer lemon, nougat
  • Available as: Whole bean

Wonderstate describes the flavor profile of these beans as something like a candy bar, which we have to admit sounds pretty inviting. It’s big on chocolatey notes, balanced by juicy citrus fruit and a hint of nuttiness. Unlike most Mexican coffees, these beans are naturally processed. The prolonged contact with the fruit of coffee cherry gives them a heavier body than you might expect from Mexican Chiapas coffee, as well as a rich sweetness.

Wonderstate worked with the Grapos Cooperative in the small district of Siltepec, Chiapas, to find these unique coffee beans. Meaning “Hill of Snails” in the local Nahuatl language, Siltepec is home to many small-scale farms at altitudes of 4,600-5,200 feet. To maintain the highest quality, this coffee includes beans from just four of these small farms.

Wonderstate Coffee works exclusively with farmers that employ organic and sustainable farming as part of what they call “sourcing for the collective good.” They pay 80% over the Fair Trade minimum, and 50% over regular Fair Trade certified organic prices. This also includes supporting farmer education and investing in innovative projects. In 2015, the Wonderstate roastery in Wisconsin became 100% solar-powered, one of the first roasteries in the world to do so.

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. Ceremony Mexico Coatepec – Best Value for Money

Specifications

  • Roast level: Medium-Light

  • Region: Veracruz
  • Varietal(s): Typica, Bourbon, Caturra
  • Processing: Washed
  • Tasting notes: Chocolate, hazelnut
  • Available as: Whole bean

Like many of the best coffees, these beans come from a high-altitude region. Farmers grow them up to 5,000 feet above sea level in the center of Veracruz. The Coatepec district is one of the oldest Mexican coffee-growing regions, and the farmers here still grow the traditional Arabica varietals Typica, Bourbon, and Caturra. Farms here are small; usually, around 4 hectares, with beans sorted and wash-processed at local community mills.

Coatepec coffee is well known in Mexico and prized for its chocolate overtones and mild acidity, and these beans are true to type. A brew with this coffee will develop dessert-like flavors that have been described as reminiscent of brownie-batter – with notes of chocolate, hazelnut, and caramel.

Ceremony Coffee sources only seasonal beans with an 85+ rating, which are offered as single-origin coffees or added to their signature blends. The ceremony also directly supports community projects, including a venture that supplies coffee producers in Guatemala with high-tech weathervane devices.

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.

Mexican coffee regions
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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 beans flavor notes
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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.

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
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I’m a semi-reluctant homebody who enjoys cold brew in the company of two Dachshunds, Mommy Dog and Bibbo, and 20 house plants.

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