Mexico Maricela [Filter] 250g
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Mexico Maricela [Filter] 250g
In many parts of Mexico, it is still very unlikely that a woman would be in charge of a coffee farm or even work in fields other than cooking, cleaning, childcare or harvesting crop in the fields. Some women, however, are taking action to change this. One of them is Maricela Esperón, a coffee grower and land owner in the Sierra Mazateca, northern Oaxaca, in her mid-thirties.
According to Mazatec traditions, land is inherited to the youngest son, thus the land of Maricela's grandfather was supposed to be inherited to her father. However, since he himself only had daughters and no sons, his father decided to give the land to his other sons instead. Maricela's family was left with nothing. They had to work and saved up enough money to buy their own land and thus managed to get back into coffee farming.
When we visited their farm El Sótano, which is not too far away from the region's biggest town Huautla de Jiménez, the family invited us to their house, cooked food for us and shared their ideas about coffee farming. The family runs the farm together with Maricela being the main decision maker. Their coffee trees grow in a healthy agroforestry system alongside oak, cedar, cuajuinicul and mandarin trees, amongst others, which provide shade, increase biodiversity, and keep the soil healthy. They work with organic fertilizer and composting and count on traditional coffee varieties such as Mundo Novo, Bourbon, Caturra or Typica. Maricela also looks after her own coffee nursery, whose seeds formed some of the best trees on El Sótano. She decided to swim against the tide when it comes to post-harvest processing, producing naturals instead of washed coffees. It is very uncommon to work with the natural post-harvest process in this region of Mexico, which is due to the very challenging climate with frequent rainfalls even during dry season. But thanks to their careful, disciplined practices it works. And how well it does! They
In 2017, Maricela started working with Ensambles, a Mexican specialty coffee exporter who pushes agricultural biodiversity. She thus managed to sell the high-quality coffee she produces at much higher prices, thus allowing her and her family to make a good living from the coffee production. The profits also helped her to sustain the incredible quality of her natural coffee and to buy an additional 1.5 hectares of land to produce more coffee going forward. They now own six hectares of land, distributed across eight plots. In the Sierra Mazateca, coffee is often grown in areas which almost look like wild, organic stretches of forest. Coffee trees are situated on steep slopes quite frequently. These circumstances make for a very labor-intensive harvest. On top of that, due to the landscape, the farmers can plant only so many trees per hectare. Both results in quite a big effort for a small amount of coffee produced.
Maricela and her family have built raised beds in the shade big enough to dry about five tons of coffee cherries per season, a rather unusual infrastructure in the region. This is necessary because drying their natural coffee takes up to 45 days, which is drastically higher than the average of three days that most farmers in the region have to dry their washed coffees on patios. To protect them from the cold nights and heavy dew, they put the coffee cherries back into bags every night and store them in their house, before spreading them out onto the raised beds again in the morning.
More recently, she began to roast her own coffee and sell it on the local markets.
We have published a blog post summarizing our visit to Mexico and the Sierra Mazateca in early 2023.
This full-bodied coffee is sweet like candy, full of ripe fruit notes and yet super clean and juicy. We think of cherries, wild strawberries and grapes, but also other fruits like dried dates or even mango.
Brewing with the V60 or similar and with Hario cone-shaped 01 or 02 paper filters, we use 15 grams of coffee at a medium grind size – roughly 20 clicks on the Comandante, 250g of water at 93°c and we brew with three pours:
0:00 bloom with 50g of water, briefly stir with a spoon
0:30 pour another 100g = 150g
1:15 pour another 100g = 250g
Our total contact time is around 2:30.
We brew this coffee not too quickly, to allow for a high body, and not too long, to keep it as clear and clean as possible.