Coffees From Around the World - Central America
In this article we discuss the coffees from the Central American region.
Mexico is the seventh largest coffee producer in the world, most of which is of the arabica variety from the southern part of the country, where it is grown by smallholders and sold on to the National co-operative.
Vera Cruz State, on the gulf side of the central mountain range, produces mostly lowland coffees, but coffees called Altura (High) Coatepec, from a mountainous region near the city of that name, have an excellent reputation.
Chiapas and Tapachula coffee is grown in the mountains of the southeastern most corner of Mexico near the border with Guatemala and has a delicate light flavour similar to the well-known Oaxaca.
Primo Lavado (prime washed) is a grade of Mexico coffee that includes most of its' finest.
Mexico is also the worlds' main source of maragogype beans, which are extra large and some experts consider produce the very best coffee.
As the second largest producer in Central America (and 8th in the world) Guatemala is another main source of the maragogype bean.
The best Guatemalan coffees have a very distinct, spicy, and (when dark roasted), display a unique smoky flavour that sets them apart from all other coffees. They are very acidy, with the spiciness or smokiness coming across as within the acidy tones, and are medium to full in body and rich in flavour.
High grown beans (Strictly Hard Bean) grade coffees(such as Antigua) from the central highlands tend to have a rich, spicy or floral acidity with excellent body characteristic. Coffees from mountainous areas exposed to either Pacific or Caribbean weather, display a bit less acidity and more fruit.
Honduran arabica coffee is ninth of world's leading coffee producers, yet most of it is fairly undistinguished and is mainly used as a blending coffee.
There are some excellent varieties grown, but they are often blended before they are exported. Beans are named after the growing regions, including Santa Barbara, as well as Copan, Ocotepeque, Lempira, La Paz and El Paraiso.
Costa Rican Coffee
Costa Rica only produces high quality arabica coffee that display a full body and clean, robust acidity that makes it among the most revered of all Central American coffee.
It is grown primarily in the countryside surrounding the capital, San Jose, on rich, well-drained volcanic soil above 3000 feet.
The most famous coffees are San Marcos de Tarrazu, Tres Rios, Heredia, and Alajuela. La Minita is a well-publicized estate in the Tarrazu district of Costa Rica that produces an excellent coffee - reputed to be the most meticulously prepared in the world.
Situated between Honduras and Costa Rica, the coffees of Nicaragua display a characteristic more of the former than of the latter. They are coffees in the classic Central-American style but usually undistinguished - being medium-bodied, straightforwardly acidy, with reasonable flavour.
El Salvadorian Coffee
Despite being the smallest country on the American continent, El Salvador ranks 15th in world coffee production. This hasn't always been the case, as political problems have regularly beset this densely populated country.
El Salvador's arabica coffees tend toward softer, less acidy versions of the classic Central America flavour profile and are often used in blending. The best high-grown coffees are from trees of the Bourbon and Pacamara varieties and the taste can be fragrant and complex.
Strictly High-Grown is the highest grade of El Salvador coffee.
Look out for my other articles in this series on the coffee growing regions of the world.
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