Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra, Marsellesa, & Maragogype
Altitude: 1,250 - 1,600 MASL
Cupping Notes: Raisinets™, Red Apple, Dulce de Leche
Description: El Mezcal is a beautiful example of the specialty coffee industry taking small scale producers from selling on local markets to being represented for their own individual quality. E-Cafe Chiapas is an organization of growers who started out as an exporter in 2007. They organize this microlot that is produced by 12 small scale growers who had previously sold their coffee into a larger regional blend. E-Cafe hosted the farmers who contribute to El Mezcal at their research farm, Finca Las Chicharras, in 2016 to learn growing and processing techniques for specialty coffee. Then in 2019, the E-Cafe team helped El Mezcal build their own raised beds for drying coffee, as they were previously drying it in their yards. This is the first year that we’ve tasted this lot, so we can’t speak to how these improvements have helped the coffee quality, but we can say that the quality today is clear to see and taste. Before getting into the processing and cup profile for this lot, we have to touch on the epic name, “El Mezcal”. Unfortunately it was not named because these 12 producers got together, sang songs, and drank mezcal all night. But not too far off! Interspersed among the coffee trees planted on these farms, there are Maguey Agave plants from which one would make the illustrious Mezcal (which, because of it’s laborious production, relative to tequila is more likely to be a higher quality product with less additives than it’s ever popular cousin, we digress).
This handpicked lot is sent to the fermentation tanks for 10-14 hours before being washed clean of mucilage. After it’s been washed the coffee is sorted and then put on raised beds in a greenhouse for drying that maintains a temperature of 30-35℃. The coffee will go through destoning next to ensure no foreign matter makes it through the process, and then the coffee is hulled to remove the parchment. With the coffee processed down to green coffee, E-Cafe runs it through a color sorter, and finishes with size grading to be sure that the resulting coffee is uniform and without defects for the best quality across the lot.
El Mezcal cups really well, clean and bright while hot, and gets so sweet as it cools. We tasted Raisinets™ and Red Apple up front, and it cooled with a sweet note of Dulce de Leche (Mexican caramel, more or less). If the cupping weren’t blind you can be sure that we would’ve convinced ourselves that we tasted Agave.