Since the 1960s, Guerrero, Mexico has been a hotbed of guerilla activity and drug-related violence. But recently it seems that great coffee might help tame this Wild West. Guerrero coffees are usually ignored on the international market, but the farmers at El Eden knew that if they could make a truly unique coffee, unlike anything else in Mexico, they just might get noticed.
Quills’ newest top-shelf coffee comes from the El Eden Cooperative, in the Guerrero state of Mexico, and represents an exciting new relationship for Quills. El Eden is a very small cooperative (it only consists of fifteen members) nestled in the heart of Guerrero, Mexico, just northwest of Oaxaca—an area certainly not known as a high-quality coffee producing region of Mexico.
These farmers are a small collection of growers with strong initiative and courage in an area stifled by drugs and violence. This is demonstrated in the decidedly unique direction they have taken with their coffee, differentiating it from other Mexican coffees by choosing a natural process in which the coffee is dried while still in the fruit, instead of skinned and washed immediately.
This process is not common in Mexico, and is much more labor-intensive, but the end result can be phenomenal when done well, as is the case here.
This non-traditional Mexican coffee is a testament to the co-op’s dedication. From individual member separation in the processing, to hand sorting of the final product and their organic growth practices, El Eden is setting out to prove that Mexican coffee can be a truly special thing.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Mexico El Eden Cooperative, from Quills Coffee in Louisville, Kentucky. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Atoyac de Alvarez, Guerrero, Mexico
producer: smallholder farmers
association: El Eden Cooperative
elevation: 1350 – 1600 meters above sea level
varieties: Typica, Bourbon
The Mexico El Eden’s aroma is powerful and intense, but lush and fragrant all the same. It has some dynamic and complex dried fruit and floral aromatics, with notes of fig, cranberry, spiced rum, caramel, and cherry blossom.
I’m taking my first few sips of the cup immediately post brew, and with each sip, my palate is greeted by spicy, tongue-tingling cinnamon and cloves. Thankfully, there are cool and soothing Tupelo honey and milk chocolate flavors that completely envelop the palate, laying down a thin bed that allow sweet fruits to come flowing in. There’s also a small flourish of floral notes, particularly throughout the finish.
As the cup cools, the coffee gets more fleshy, syrupy—viscous, even. Each sip completely fills the mouth, coating the palate, crashing into the sides of the mouth, and rising up to the roof. It’s like the coffee expands once it hits the tongue. Beautiful flavors of peach jelly, strawberry, raspberry, fig, raisin, orange marmalade, spiced cherry (slightly medicinal), plum, apple, and grape, while mellow notes of rum, sour Gumdrops, brown sugar, and shaved almonds round out the finish.
Medium body; syrupy mouthfeel; malic acidity; clean finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The Mexico El Eden Cooperative, from Quills Coffee, is a fantastic Mexican coffee that holds up in the company of some of the better Central American naturals and certainly outshines most of its Mexican peers—particularly in its specific region of Guerrero and extending into the more famous Oaxaca.
While I’ve had maybe one Mexican coffee that was tastier (to my liking anyway), I most definitely haven’t had a Mexican coffee that was more (or even equally, for that matter) dynamic nor complex. Truly, this natural Guerrero fires on all cylinders with plenty of sweets and spices. Furthermore, it’s a real mouthful with a weight that is light on the belly, but heavy on the palate. What it lacks in clarity, it makes up for in volume and dynamics.