We are beyond excited to launch our first Direct Trade Mexican coffee of the season from third generation coffee producer Ernesto Perez, owner of Finca Fatima in the Coatepec municipality of Veracruz, Mexico. Before I take you guys on a deep dive into Ernesto and his coffees, we would be remiss if we didn’t take you guys all the way to the beginning.
Our desire to bridge the gap between ourselves and Mexican coffee producers has been an ongoing thing for Metric since the very day we started. In the past, we have been beyond surprised with the quality of coffee coming out of Mexico, but our lack of connections and solid communication with anyone in the country meant we couldn't develop the meaningful relationships that are at the core of our sourcing program. In subsequent years, we've partnered with importers to purchase coffees from Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz but still lacked the transparency and direct connection which left us dismayed at best and confused at worst.
What are the challenges of sourcing quality Mexican coffee?
Jorge Ruiz from Curador Coffee Studio
So, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Yes, Mexico is literally right below us and it’s easy to think that it would be that much easier to procure coffees south of the border and you’d be right to think that but the truth isn’t that cut and dry. At Metric, we would learn the answer by way of our friend and key partner in Mexico Jorge Ruiz- Owner of Curador Coffee Studio along with his wife Sandra in Tijuana, Mexico. In my personal opinion, beyond being crazy qualified, Jorge is a walking saint and someone we love being around.
We first met Jorge back in 2016 when he worked for a US based importer, which eventually led him and Sandra to launch Curador as a way to help roasters outside of Mexico have a partner on the ground to serve as their conduit for the relationships they seek to foster. This is why, in 2019, we made our way to Oaxaca to meet up with Jorge to visit this magical region and further connect with the way they do things. As Jorge would later explain, unlike most coffee producing countries who grow and export Specialty Coffee, Mexico consumes a great deal of their quality coffee in the country due to the growing demand from both specialty coffee roasters and consumers. As we would later learn from meeting up with roasters in Mexico City, local roasters can jump in a pickup truck, take an envelope full of cash and drive down to Oaxaca or Veracruz and buy coffee directly from the Dry Mill. The best part about this, is they pay really stellar prices o the producer and it also provides quick liquidity. Of course, beyond this reason, there are a myriad of reasons as to why it has been historically impossible to get high quality consistent coffee out of Mexico, but as some of you may know- change is coming.
Introducing Ernesto Perez
As I mentioned in the beginning of this blog post, Ernesto Perez is a third generation coffee producer from Veracruz, who after finishing high school, came to the U.S. to study at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas which is where he developed an interest in the Specialty Coffee market. Already coming from a family of coffee producers, Ernesto pursued his Q Grader Certification and later traveled to El Salvador to earn his Level Two Q Processing certificate at Cuatro M Cafes, then on to Brazil to learn more about processing equipment from Pinhalense which equipped him with the knowledge to run a more efficient and quality focused milling operation. Then in 2018, Ernesto returned to Veracuz to join Finca Fatima and launch a separately branded operation under the name APG which offers processing and export services not only to Finca Fatima but also to 85 other farming families in Coatepec. Only one year after his return, with their new focus on the specialty coffee program, Finca Fatima became a top 10 finalist in 2019 Mexico’s Cup of Excellence with a score of 89.41 using a criolla typica variety found around his area of Coatepec, Veracruz.
About Finca Fatima & APG
Finca Fatima is a 20-hectare family coffee farm just minutes away from Coatepec, Veracruz. Coatepec has some of the highest latitude coffee on the globe: just like high elevations yield slow cherry maturation due to cooler weather, Coatepec pushes the northern edge of the tropics, where cooler, slightly wetter weather and long, cool nights during the harvest slow down cherry ripening, creating an incredible density of flavor. On the farm, you’ll find cultivars like Garnica, Caturra, Marsellesa and Typica with a complex biodiversity which includes two water springs, endemic flowers and fruit trees that provide both shade and shelter to a wide range of bird and animal species. Harvest in Veracruz starts in the months of December, January, and February with pickers selectively picking and sorting ripe cherries which are then transported to APG.
APG’s mill combines traditional coffee processing methodologies with high-tech, ecological Pinhalense machinery. With this technology, floaters and unripe cherries are removed from the process and parchment is slowly dehydrated to protect the embryo’s life. During fermentation, pH and oxygen levels are manipulated to achieve complex profiles in the cup.
Like all new relationships, only time will tell what fruit this relationship will bear, but given the involvement of our dealer friend Jorge who colloquially is known as “Bene Tuti” we feel like we’re on the right track to having all of the key supply chain partners in place to source, roast and deliver stellar quality Mexican Coffees. Of course, just when we thought that things couldn’t get any better, earlier this year we caught wind of a new project led by our partners at Azahar Coffee in Colombia who are launching a new project in Mexico which resulted in a few stellar blender and microlots from Oaxaca and Chiapas slated to be released later this year. In conclusion, we are excited over the prospects in Mexico and want to thank Jorge from Curador Coffee Studio for his ongoing friendship and dedication to Specialty Coffee in Mexico and equally excited to begin a new relationship with Azahar in Mexico.