Coffee arrived in Mexico at the start
of the nineteenth century, although it wasn't exported
in significant quantities until the 1870s. The Mexicans
themselves consume over half the coffee produced in their
country, with the US being the largest foreign customer,
receiving over three-fourths of the exported coffee.
The coffee-producing regions
of Veracruz and Chiapas account for 70% of the Mexican coffee
crop, with another 10% coming from Puebla and the remainder
from other states, among them fertile Oaxaca. Nearly all
of the coffee growers in Mexico work on farms of 25 acres
or less, a far cry from the real and imagined coffee plantations
of long ago.
The finest grade of Mexican
coffee is "altura," which means "high-grown."
Where coffee is concerned, higher always means better, and
the high-grown coffees of Mexico are considered very high-quality
indeed and among the finest grown in the Americas.
So with all this great coffee
grown right here in Mexico, it's often surprising to order
a coffee in a Cancun restaurant and find a cup of hot
water delivered to your table along with a jar of NesCafe
instant coffee. This is still the case in many smaller restaurants,
and granted it allows you to make your coffee as strong
or weak as you prefer, or to order a 'cafe con leche' and
receive a cup of hot milk with which to mix your NesCafe
for a sort of "poor-man's latte".
For all you Starbuck fanatics
who can't go a day without your latte, espresso, or capucino,
you'll be happy to learn that the espresso machine has found
it's way to Cancun and now a good cup of coffee is considerably
easier to find. The majority of hotel coffee shops will
have an espresso machine and a qualified operator, and quite
a few shops dedicated to custom-made coffee drinks and delicious
local pastries. Considering the number of ex-pats from Canada
and the United States who call Cancun home, it's not surprising,
and visitors will easily find their coffee fix.
There's also a type of coffee
unique to Latin America you may find in a few resturants:
"cafe de olla", which translates to "coffee
from the pot". This much-loved Mexican beverage really
does simmer in the pot all day long, which enhances the
flavors of this syrupy-sweet coffee drink prepared with
cinnamon and cloves.
You may also be offered a
'Mexican Coffee' at some of the finer restaurants after
dinner, the preparation of which is demonstrated complete
with a showman's flair. Coffee, tequila, and and egg-white
merengue are combined in an impressive table-side display
of flaming alcohol poured from one glass to another.