Joel our senior roaster, headed to Mexico with green coffee importers 'Raw Material' earlier in February 2023 to visit Farms that grow and process some of the coffees we purchase here at Rave.
Mexico is an origin I find very intriguing and I’m personally excited by the quality produced considering the restrictions they work with. As someone who’s never managed to leave Europe, The run up to setting off was full of excitement and nerves. We were going to be hosted by Raw Material and their partners Red Beetle Coffee Lab, a team of two working in Mexico, Thomas and Shaun.
The first proper day was the most important for us. After a 12 hour flight, a 6 hour wait til another hour flight, then a four hour drive, we arrived in the Sierra Juarez, Home to Cafe El Zapoteco (formally Los Machos). We have been purchasing their coffee since summer 2021 and it’s an association we are very happy to be working with.
Romulo Chavez is the leader of the association and after hosting us for the first night, We walked across the coffee fields above Santo Domingo. These are not fields in the strictest sense, each family's farm often merges into each other at times, a change denoted only by a particular tree or sign. They vary wildly in size too, from 0.5 to 5 Hectares, meaning production in turn varies from farm to farm
After a great breakfast provided by Romulo’s Family, we cupped Lots from the association. This process early in harvest is all about selecting coffees from the association’s blend and which should be highlighted separately. Artemio’s, one of the larger plots we saw, was one one the standouts I cupped, being outstandingly sweet and clean. Continuing to purchase from this association is an important commitment for us, allowing Raw Material to guarantee early payment to producers, well above commodity market pricing, allowing growing coffee to be a sustainable prospect for them.
After a day of travelling and spending the late afternoon in Oaxaca city, the next day we managed to visit the dry mill UNTAO. A dry mill is a final sorting stage, removing the outer layer (Parchment) before shipping. Coffee here is graded, cupped and defects and low density coffee removed through the milling process. Shown below is a density sorted, as the coffee is dropped onto this table, it shifts side to side, guiding heavier coffee to the one side, while low density coffee shifts to the opposite side.