Heart

Mexican Coffee by Caleb Savage

We’ve said before that a great cup of coffee is a coffee you enjoy drinking. While some see it as a polite non-answer, we truly believe that while there are strict standards to determine quality as well as scientific answers to how we taste, ultimately, your preferences in taste, the information you have about the coffee, and the setting in which you drink the coffee all determine your overall enjoyment of the coffee and therefore, its perceived greatness. While we work hard to source, prepare, and serve some of the best coffees available to our friends and family in Downtown OKC, every once in a while a coffee comes along that excites us for more than just checking the boxes for quality in care and cup. Heart’s Mexico Miramar Especial is one of those coffees. It’s not just that it’s a great cup of coffee, (it is) but the story of Specialty Coffee in Mexico is too good not to share with you.

Hecho en México

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Coffee has been a vital part of Mexico’s economy since the late nineteenth century. Often ranking in the ten largest coffee producing countries and accounting for around sixty percent of the world’s supply of organic coffee, our southern neighbor is a coffee producing machine. So why is Miramar Especial the first Mexican coffee ever roasted by Heart or served in our shop? A handful of issues arise: Mexico’s government began investing in the need for organic certification on coffee as the emerging specialty coffee market began shifting to a focus on quality, followed by a national bankruptcy which crumbled institutional support for farmers, and, in more recent history, issues with la roya or coffee leaf rust has decimated entire crops, causing a dramatic and devastating decline in production, due in part to rising temperatures. But these reasons alone aren’t the only things making it difficult for the best coffees being grown Mexico make it to the United States.

Drift: Mexico City

A magazine devoted to coffee, culture, and city, Drift Magazine prints dives into cities around the world with a passion for coffee. In its sixth volume, Drift captured the emergence of specialty coffee and the passion that comes from having coffee growers so close to consumers, roasters, and baristas in focusing on Mexico City, “the most populous and one of the oldest cities in North America.”

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If you go to Africa, they don’t have many specialty coffee shops. If you go to South America, they are starting to have specialty coffee shops. But, for example, they don’t have brewing methods yet because it’s expensive. Mexico has the U.S. in the North, and that gives us huge access to machines, equipment, and industry trends. But we also have the fortune of being a coffee-producing country. We can have coffee from our backyard and the technology from the North.
— Carlos de la Torre, Café Avellaneda (Drift: Mexico City)

With a growing specialty market, coffee professionals are developing relationships with producers and farmers to serve the highest quality coffees from southern states like Oaxaca, Veracruz or one of the twelve other coffee producing states in Mexico in cities like Mexico City, and Guadalajara. More than pride or novelty, cafes and roasteries are investing in specialty coffee in Mexico to close the knowledge gap from consumer to producers, to mitigate the effects of La Roya, and to support farms and co-ops that international buyers might avoid paying premium prices for when a similar scoring coffee might be found in Peru or Colombia for a cheaper price. It’s not all doom and gloom for Mexican producers though, with four coffees scoring above 90 points in the 2018 Cup of Excellence competition, with all 28 winning lots scoring above 86 points, with the winning lot selling at $100.20 a pound.

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Miramar Especial

The coffee we are featuring comes to us from the state of Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s most southern states and one of it’s most well known coffee growing regions.

From Heart:

“Miramar Especial was our favorite lot produced by the Sierra Mixteca co-op. The co-op is located close to the village of Guadalupe Miramar, in the State of Oaxaca. Sierra Mixteca is relatively small, with only 15 members. Our lot is a mix of entirely Bourbon and Typica varieities. Once the cherry has been picked and depulped, the farmers dry ferment their beans for between eighteen and twenty-four hours, then the coffee is washed. The farmers of Mixteca utilize both patio drying as well as raised parabolic beds.”

We’re thrilled to be able to share this special coffee with you! We taste notes of milk chocolate and guava.

Home Brew Techniques & Troubleshooting Class Recap by Caleb Savage

We had a great time talking pour overs and extraction in our first Home Brew Techniques & Troubleshooting class! We’re so glad we were able to spend time sharing insights, techniques and cups of coffee with our friends! For those that missed out, here’s a quick recap on what we covered:

The Best Cup of Coffee

A great cup of coffee is a cup you like to drink. If we want to dive a little deeper into making coffee, we’d say that a great cup is one that’s extracted evenly, pulling out all of the good qualities of the coffee while leaving all of the bad qualities behind. When brewing at home, a great cup should also be one you enjoy making. We don’t believe there’s only one right way to make coffee. If you don’t enjoy what it takes to make the “perfect” cup at home, then it’s not perfect for you and we can find a method that works best!

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Extraction and the Importance of Brew Recipes

When we talk about coffee brewing, we’re talking about extraction. We can combine and change variables like the time coffee is in contact with water, the quality of the water, how even and how fine the coffee is ground, the temperature of the water, and how much we disturb or agitate the grounds to create an even extraction that leaves the coffee balanced in sweetness, acidity, and bitterness.

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With so many variables taking place in coffee brewing, one of the ways we can control for them is by using brew recipes. We discussed how variables like grind and time work with each other and how using brew recipes that come from companies whose coffee you enjoy is a great place to start. In the class we discussed recipes from KLLR, Heart, Ritual, & Blue Bottle!

As always, we love talking about coffee. Anytime you have a question, we are more than willing to hunt down the right answer and find a solution that works for you! We loved taking these fun deep dives into various parts of the coffee experience! If you’re interested in learning more about our monthly events, you can sign up for our email list here!

Hacienda La Esmeralda by Steve Willingham

Hacienda La Esmeralda is made up of four farms in Boquete, Panama owned by the Petersons, a world famous family of coffee producers. This fame comes from the phenomenal quality of their geisha coffees with clear floral and fruit notes that make for an outstanding cup.

Photo Courtesy of Hacienda La Esmeralda

Photo Courtesy of Hacienda La Esmeralda

A Brief History of Esmeralda

In 1967, Rudolph A. Peterson decided to retire and purchase a couple of farms from a fellow named Hans Elliot in Boquete, Panama. Back then, it was mostly cattle and eventually dairy. Coffee was there too; in fact, it had been growing there since 1890. It just wasn't a focus.

In the mid-1980's, the Peterson family decided to diversify by focusing on the coffee plantation. In 1988, they took a big step by expanding their farms to include Palmira. In 1997, they expanded again by purchasing Jaramillo, where they first planted the geisha variety in an attempt to battle a fungus, Mycena citricolor, also known as Ojo de Gallo or Rooster's Eye. When the variety showed resistance, they spread the plant to the highest elevations where they noticed the extreme flavors and sweetness. They began meticulously separating the lots of coffee in an attempt to find the absolute best coffee.

Then, in 2004, they shocked the coffee world. A coffee at the Best of Panama sold for a record $21 per pound! And that's the green coffee price! By the time it's exported, imported, and roasted, you're looking at $80+ per pound. This was the beginning of a craze that hasn't stopped yet. By 2007, it was selling for around $130 per pound, and back in July of this year, a natural processed geisha lot from Cañas Verdes brought in $601 per pound, setting yet another record. 

What's next?

The Petersons are constantly testing, learning, growing, and improving. The demand doesn't seem to be waning and neither does their passion. Right now, they're testing over 400 accessions (sub varieties) of coffee on their El Velo farm. Their constant dedication means we only have better and better coffee ahead of us.

Photo Courtesy of Hacienda La Esmeralda

Photo Courtesy of Hacienda La Esmeralda

This weekend, we'll be featuring a blend of coffees from Cañas Verdes, Jaramillo, and El Velo roasted by our friends at Heart Roasters for $8 per cup. We hope you'll taste orange, vanilla, honey, and jasmine. And we hope you'll be as impressed as we are.

To read about the last time we featured a geisha coffee, check out this old blog post. And to get a cup of this, come by today or tomorrow!

On Bar: Ethiopia Hunda Oli by Steve Willingham

We've got an exciting new coffee from Heart Roasters on bar today! Ethiopia Hunda Oli

Photo courtesy of  Heart Roasters

Photo courtesy of Heart Roasters

Hunda Oli is a farming cooperative located in a town called Agaro in Oromia, Ethiopia. Oromia takes up the middle part of the country and includes the capital, the city of Addis Ababa. It's also responsible for more than half the production of coffee in Ethiopia. Like a lot of Ethiopia, farmers usually have small amounts of land, an average of just over one hectare (like two and a half acres.)

This means in most cases, the Ethiopian coffees we feature are grown by multiple farmers, and this coffee is no different. Hunda Oli is a co-op made up of 161 members growing heirloom plants on small lots.

The farmers bring their coffee to the wet mill where it's pulped, sorted, and sorted again. After fermentation, the coffee is agitated to remove the remaining mucilage, washed, and dried on raised beds.

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This is a really sweet and balanced coffee. We're getting tons of orange on the espresso bar, but it tastes more like berries and rosewater on Chemex. Come try it out both ways!