Discover the 7 Best Mexican Coffee Beans in 2021 - Review
When Americans look south of the border, it’s a mixed bag of feelings. For some, Mexico is a place that offers cheap prescription drugs and fun, while for others (and we won’t get political here), it’s a source of cheap labor.
But few people think of coffee when they think of Mexico. And that’s surprising because Mexican coffee beans are widely considered to be high quality. The country is the 8th largest coffee producer and is the largest source of US coffee imports.
Let’s dive right into our list.
The 7 Best Mexican Coffee Beans Review - Our Pick
Since you’re reading this, you know that not all coffee is made the same. There’s a massive difference between supermarket coffee and the coffee we recommend. In our opinion, the advantage of buying whole bean, fresh-roasted coffee is two-fold. For one, drinking premium whole-bean coffee is like buying good produce or a nice cut of meat. And secondly, like produce/meat, the freshness factor plays a huge role.
What are the best beans in Mexico?
Fresh Roasted Coffee Mexican Chiapas
- Region: Chiapas (Tapachula)
- Type of roast: Medium, Dark, Half Caf (Swiss Water Process)
- Form: Whole bean, Ground (12 oz, 2 lb and 5 lb bag)
- Flavor notes: sweet, caramel, nutty, pear
- Certifications: USDA Organic, Kosher
Fresh Roasted Coffee’s organic premium Mexican coffee beans top our list for many reasons. First, they’re, surprise, surprise — fresh-roasted. Second, they only offer single-origin organic coffee. And finally, they offer three varieties: medium roast, dark roast and half-caf. To be clear, these are the same beans prepared in three different ways.
We’ll look at Mexico’s coffee-growing regions in-depth a bit later, but for now, we wanted to explain what Chiapas means. Chiapas is the biggest coffee-producing region in Mexico. It’s located in the south of Mexico near the Guatemalan border. This particular coffee is grown in Tapachula, a city in the Chiapas region renowned for its agriculture. The beans are wet-processed and sun-dried to lock in flavor.
Fresh Roasted sources their coffee from sustainable farms and handpicks the beans for every batch. They then roast the beans to the highest standards in a US facility. Importantly, they roast in small batches and ship ASAP to make sure you get fresh coffee. They also sell pre-ground coffee (but only through their website).
Organic Mexican Chiapas has glowing reviews across multiple websites. They only source coffee from the best growers, and these 100% Arabica organic Mexican coffee beans will put a smile on your face and pep in your step.
Volcanica Mexican Coffee
- Region: Chiapas
- Type of roast: Medium
- Form: Whole bean, Ground (1 lb, 3 lb (3-pack of 1 lb) and 5 lb bag)
- Flavor notes: sweet, nutty
- Certifications: Fair Trade, Kosher
Volcanica Coffee is famous for sourcing its beans from volcanic, coffee-producing regions of the world. We’ve looked at some of their other offerings, which include coffees from African, Caribbean, and Indonesian sources as well as the Americas.
The Volcanica brand’s Mexican coffee is #2 on our list because of its outstanding flavor, certifications and fresh-to-your-door premium whole beans. A critical note on certificates — while this coffee has “organic” in the title, we scoured their website and found that it’s organically grown and not certified USDA Organic. But considering it’s Fair Trade and Kosher certified, you can be sure that you’re getting sustainably grown coffee.
The company describes this 100% Arabica as having sweet, nutty notes with a slight acidity. It has a medium body and will burst with flavor and richness no matter how you prepare it.
We recommend you try this coffee freshly-ground (preferably in a burr grinder). Remember, only grind as much coffee as you need and never store ground coffee, it loses freshness quickly.
Wild Foods Chiapas Coffee Beans
- Region: Chiapas
- Type of roast: Dark
- Form: Whole bean (12 oz, 24 oz (two 12 oz) 2.5 lb, 5 lb (two 2.5 lb) bag)
- Flavor notes: sweet, caramel, chocolate
- Certifications: Fair Trade, Organic, Rated Premium Grade "1"
Wild Foods isn’t your usual coffee company. They only sell a handful of coffees from Peru, Mexico and Ethiopia, along with blends. Their niche is health — they sell protein, MCT oils, and various other products.
They boast of selling only premium grade “1” beans, which means the coffee has a distinct taste, acidity, body and aroma. It also means the beans are defect-free. This is a testament to their sourcing and roasting abilities. Speaking of roasting, they roast in micro-batches in an Austin, Texas facility. They’re not afraid to push the envelope.
Wild Foods Mexican Dark Roast is a single-origin coffee. The Mexican green coffee beans are grown at an altitude of 2,600-5,900 ft in the Chiapas region and then shipped to Austin for roasting.
We chose Wild Foods as our #3 because it’s a bold, in-your-face 100% Arabica. Yes, it’s more expensive than some of the coffees on this list (at $19.99/12 oz bag), but it’s worth it. If you’re into dark roasts, want to diversify your coffee-drinking with milky drinks or additives like syrups, this is the coffee for you.
Los Portales Mexican Gourmet Coffee
- Region: Oaxaca, Veracruz and Chiapas
- Type of roast: Unknown
- Form: Ground (1 lb bag)
- Flavor notes: Unknown
- Certifications: Unknown
Ok, so you’re probably thinking — you preached the whole bean and freshly ground philosophy and your #4 is a pre-ground blend? Yes, that is 100% true, just as this coffee is 100% Arabica.
We placed this coffee high on our list because of reviews and how affordable it is. That said, there’s not much information about this company. We found two flavors: Original and Intense. From what we can gather, they’re both highly sought-after and praised. The Intense blend is bolder and has an extra caffeine kick, while the Original blend is more subtle while still offering plenty of flavor.
It’s unclear if Los Portales sources the best Mexican coffee green beans, but what we do know is the coffee is grown at an altitude of 2,600-3,300 ft in three regions — Oaxaca, Veracruz and Chiapas.
We recommend this ground coffee for people that want to dip their toes in gourmet coffee and don’t have access to a grinder. Whole beans are the best overall. However, because some people prefer to live more frugally, Los Portales to the rescue. Feed your inner caffeine fiend without breaking your bank.
Oakland Coffee Works Guapa Chiapas, Whole Bean
- Region: Chiapas
- Type of roast: Medium
- Form: Whole bean (12 oz bag)
- Flavor notes: sweet
- Certifications: USDA Organic (CCOF), Fair Trade
First off, when reading about this coffee, you might see CCOF Organic. If you’re unfamiliar with CCOF Certified Organic (usually you’ll see USDA Organic), it’s the same thing. California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) is a USDA-accredited organization with the right to give USDA Organic certifications.
And one other thing before we get into describing the coffee — the word “guapa” means beautiful in Spanish. So, the name means beautiful Chiapas, an homage to the biggest coffee-producing region in Mexico.
Oakland Coffee sources only the best Mexican organic green coffee beans from farms located high up in the Chiapas region. Their single-origin medium roast beans have a deep, sweet flavor characteristic of Mexican 100% Arabica beans grown at a high altitude. The taste isn’t overly bitter or acidic and balances well with milk if you’re into milky drinks.
Apart from being environmentally conscious of where they source their beans, Oakland Coffee is also the first company we’ve seen that developed a compostable bag (suitable for industrial composting facilities). They also give back to the community through sponsorships and community-driven projects.
Oakland Coffee’s Guapa Chiapas makes our #5 spot thanks to its quality. The only complaint we found was beans being delivered less-than-fresh. However, we won’t knock the company for this as Amazon is responsible for making sure deliveries are on time.
Dancing Moon Dark Roast, Mexican Chiapas
- Region: Chiapas
- Type of roast: Dark
- Form: Whole bean (12 oz and 3-pack 12 oz bags)
- Flavor notes: sweet, nutty, chocolate
- Certifications: USDA Organic, Fair Trade
Dancing Moon’s Mexican Dark Roast is grown high up in the Sierra Madre Mountains in Chiapas, Mexico. In the mid-90s, coffee growers set up their farming co-ops to create a better life for themselves and their families. Over time, their premium coffee beans gained notoriety, and eventually, Dancing Moon found them and they began working together.
The Mexican Dark Roast is grown at up to 4,500 ft in rich mountain soils. It has a bold, clean taste with a slight acidity. The company and Mexican coffee beans reviews state that the full-flavored coffee has sweet, nutty notes with chocolate hints.
Like many brands on our list, Dancing Moon takes the environment seriously — the single-origin 100% Arabica coffee grown in Chiapas is USDA Organic and Fair Trade. And they also give back — 5% of profits are donated to the Semper Fi Fund, which helps wounded US Armed Forces members and families.
We recommend Dancing Moon for people who like a more potent brew and enjoy a dark roast’s versatility. No matter how you brew it, you’ll enjoy the deep, bold flavors. And with every sip, you’re helping small co-op farmers and US Armed Forces veterans at the same time. What more could you ask for?
Groundwork Mexico Whole Bean Coffee, Light Roast
- Region: Chiapas
- Type of roast: Light-medium
- Form: Whole bean (12 oz and 2-pack 12 oz bags)
- Flavor notes: sweet, chocolate, nutty
- Certifications: USDA Organic (CCOF), Kosher
For clarification’s sake, the roast is listed on the packaging as light, while the official website states it’s a medium roast. This is confusing, so we listed it as a light-medium roast, which is likely what it is. Keep in mind, there are no official standards for roasting levels, and each coffee company has its own standards.
Groundwork’s Mexican whole bean coffee is grown by 200 small co-op farmers from a single-origin in Chiapas, Mexico. The company retains a close relationship with the growers to ensure every bean that’s picked is high-grade.
These Mexican chocolate coffee beans (they’re not coated in chocolate, if that’s what you’re thinking) are roasted in small batches in California by master roasters. The crop-to-cup process is free of GMOs, pesticides and other nasty things that you don’t want ending up in your cup.
Groundwork laid the groundwork for ensuring you get a quality cup of coffee every time. They sustainably source their beans and support the local communities.
In addition to the light roast 100% Arabica Chiapas beans, they also have a light roast from Oaxaca. It rounds off our list at #7, but honestly, it was hard to choose between some of the coffees — they’re all great in their own right.
Enjoy a full-flavored cup without compromising your principles!
Mexican Coffee History?
Historical accounts state that coffee was first brought to Mexico by Spaniards in the late 1700s. It wasn’t until much later that the first plantations appeared, mostly along the Guatemalan border.
A notable dark time in Mexico’s coffee history happened in 1989 due to several factors. The cascading effect started with Brazil, which refused to reduce coffee production quotas, effectively flooding the market with cheap coffee. This caused the International Coffee Agreement and the Mexican Coffee Institute (Instituto Mexicano del Café - INMECAFE) to collapse. As a result, Mexican coffee production and prices took a significant hit.
Mexican Coffee Taste Profile
Pure Mexican coffee beans (not adulterated with inferior beans) have a pleasantly sweet, caramel flavor reminiscent of brown sugar. They also give off notes of nutty, chocolatey flavors. Depending on where they’re grown, some beans also have distinct Arabica fruity notes.
Traditional Mexican Coffee
Interestingly, Mexicans tend to drink coffee during lunch or dinner time. We weren’t able to find info on roasting Mexican green coffee beans the traditional way. However, we did find a recipe for brewing Mexican coffee. Mexican coffee is traditionally brewed in a small pot over a low-medium flame.
To brew it, bring 8 cups of water to boil. Then, add a ½ cup of light brown sugar (called piloncillo) and 1-2 cinnamon sticks. You can also add cloves, star anise, and orange peel to make the flavors pop.
After the sugar has fully dissolved, add 8-10 tbsp of freshly ground coffee, stir well and remove from heat. Cover the pot and let the mixture steep for 5-10 minutes, depending on how strong you want it. Strain and enjoy!
Coffee Growing Regions and Conditions in Mexico
Since first introduced in Mexico, coffee production has spread to 13 regions, and currently, Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz are the top-3 coffee producers. There are two types of Mexican coffee beans: Robusta and Arabica. Arabica grows all over, while Robusta plantations are limited to Veracruz and Chiapas.
The majority of Mexican coffee is prime washed (primo lavado), which means it grows at an altitude of roughly 2,000-3,000 ft. Coincidentally, it’s considered low-medium quality. The coffee that grows higher up at heights of 3,000-4,000 ft is called café de Altura and fetches a higher price.
Production of Mexican Coffee
Climate change has, and is, affecting coffee production all over the world. According to sources, rising temperatures at lower elevations will have a devastating impact on production. The Chiapas and Veracruz regions will also be affected by a predicted reduction in rainfall and an increase in extreme weather events.
Mexico’s coffee production has been steadily decreasing since 2009 (according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), but there was an uptick in 2019. Unfortunately, there was no data for 2020, so we don’t know if the trend continued.
Mexico is more than tequila and sombreros. It’s a coffee Mecca that has seemingly been overlooked for more “exotic” countries like Ethiopia. Now that you know more about Mexican coffee try it out! We know that you won’t be disappointed.
Choose the coffee and brand that speak to you, and you won’t go wrong.
How are Mexican mocha coffee beans made?This is a misnomer as there are no “mocha coffee beans.” Mexican coffee is known for being chocolatey in flavor when brewed (mocha = cocoa powder or syrup), but there are no such beans.
How to make Mexican coffee?To make traditional Mexican coffee, or Café de Olla, bring 8 cups of filtered water to a boil in a small pot, add a ½ cup of piloncillo (light brown sugar), 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 cloves, and 1 star anise. When the sugar has fully dissolved, add 8 tbsp of freshly-ground coffee and remove it from heat. Cover and let steep for 5-7 minutes. Strain and enjoy!
When did coffee come to Mexico?The earliest accounts say that coffee arrived in Mexico in the late 1700s when Spaniards brought over coffee plants from Cuba and C. America.
Where is the coffee grown in Chiapas, Mexico?Coffee is grown all over the Chiapas region in Mexico. Chiapas has over ⅓ of Mexico’s coffee growers.