Mexico Pluma de Oaxaca San Sebastian Coatlan
Whole bean coffee
We roast to order on Mondays and Wednesdays and ship the following day. Orders will be included in a roast if they’re received by 5pm Eastern Time the day before.
Locality: San Sebastian Coatlan
Producers: 33 smallholders
Altitude: 1600 - 1800 meters
Variety: Pluma Hidalgo
Tasting notes: Almond butter, lychee, milk chocolate, tangerine
Mexican coffee occupies a place of a certain intrigue in our hearts. Of all the coffee producing countries, our neighbors to the south are probably the most familiar to us culturally, socially, and politically, and yet we see very little of their coffee on the specialty marketplace. It might be natural to think that this is due to some deficit in either quality, quantity, or both, but the real story has been one of a lack of access, infrastructure, and investment.
Thirty years ago the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, and in particular a sub-region of Oaxaca called Pluma Hidalgo, were household brands in the specialty coffee origins of the time.
At that time most of the coffee exports were large regional blends, combining the produce of many farmers together in bulk lots. The market was dominated by more affluent farmers who occupied estates at lower to middle elevations. Estate holders would buy coffee grown at much smaller, more isolated farms at higher elevations, and bulk them together with their own inferior quality produce. This practice raised the average quality of the estate coffees, and since the estate owners were the gatekeepers to market access, they reaped most of the benefits. A combination of factors including low prices and fungal blights led many estate owners to abandon coffee production altogether. The small farmers were largely unable to follow suit and continued growing coffee, mostly out of necessity, struggling to hang on.
Recently some buyers have begun recognizing the quality of the coffee grown at these small farms, where producers grow heirloom plants (most notably the local Pluma Hidalgo variety) at elevations reaching as high as 2200 masl, on farms averaging only 1 - 2 hectares. With concerted effort throughout the supply chain these exceptional coffees are finally seeing differentiation in the market and due compensation to the producers, who are cultivating a new value proposition for a sustainable future in coffee production.
We value Pluma coffees for their unique combination of balance, sweetness, drinkability, and elegance. They are the ultimate breakfast coffee: supremely approachable to the casual coffee drinker, while also offering intrigue and complexity to the connoisseur. With this lot from 33 producers in the municipality of San Sebastian Coatlan we taste almond butter, lychee, milk chocolate, and tangerine.
This is our second year buying coffee from the Pluma Hidalgo region of Oaxaca, Mexico, through our partners at Red Fox Coffee Merchants. We wrote a forward contract with Red Fox to purchase 10 69kg bags of a small community blend for a price of $3.55/lb EXW, on a day when the Coffee Commodity price was $1.16/lb. Our friend Joel Edwards sent us a pre-ship sample of this lot to fill that contract, which we scored an 85.5.
Photo Credit: Red Fox Coffee Merchants