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Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

Everybody knowing me, or have been following me, know I am always on the search for the perfect coffee on my travels. I am astound by the coffee served in Mexico – and not in a good way.
Some of the best beans in the world are cultivated in Mexico. Far from being the biggest the coffee growers focusing on quality.
Then producers and coffee roasters get involved and something goes terribly wrong in the process of refining the bean to a beverage.

If you are lucky you can find a small café serving Cafe de olla, a traditional coffee made in clay pots and spiced with cinnamon. Usually sweet and not very strong, but thanks to the extra spices rich on flavor. Some even make the effort and prepare this at home. I am searching for the right clay pot myself.

cafedeolla

Photo: Dan Freed

Unfortunately the weaker coffee is dominating Mexico and instant coffee is all too common, both at restaurants and at homes. Being served a room-tempered instant coffee after a tasty meal can really ruin a dinner.
The use of instant coffee has become widespread in Mexico, and when you think it cannot possibly be any worse you are served this;

decaf

Photo: Dan Freed

A coffee that is not very good to begin with is rinsed from all caffeine making the remaining liquid overall pointless. And it does not stop, a popular way to drink this is with condensed milk.
If you never tasted this dehydrated, canned milk it is very sweet, still many Mexicans add sugar to their cups.
I can’t even describe the end result, but I would definitely not call it coffee.

For years I have been asking myself where this assault on coffee origins. The Mexican kitchen is a wonder of flavors and the creativity when it comes to cooking is beyond belief – Just see all the different dishes created with corn as base.

So why is coffee put aside? Better part of the coffee drinking world prefer a richer taste, of course being Swedish and with the Scandinavian countries topping all charts I may sound bias, but even the tea drinking Englishmen prefer a flavorish dark roast when choosing coffee.

Finally I have solved the mystery.

It became so very clear. I did have a hunch of the explanation of this riddle, I just couldn’t connect all the dots.

Visiting Cafe con leche in Toluca I had a discussion about coffee habits in Mexico. Cafe con leche serves Cafe lechero or Cafe con leche Veracruz. This is a traditional way to serve coffee, today claimed a Veracruz origin.

No matter the roots this is one of the best coffees you can find, and I am not only referring to Mexico.
I was told that back in the 50’s all cafés worth their name served coffee this way. Families and friends gathered and enjoyed good coffee, just as strong as they preferred.
Then Americans discovered Mexico as a tourist resort and with the tourist came the bad coffee habits.
And everything fell into place – Where else in the world do we find light roast, tasteless, colorless excuses for coffee? Mexico have inherit all other bad habits from USA so why not the coffee too.

So, when you want a good cup of coffee, find a place serving Cafe lechero. In Veracruz you find it everywhere. In Toluca you have Café con Leche. The Hidalguense restaurant chain Café Madero can be found in Pachuca and around Estado de Mexico, worth mention because as far as I know it is the only chain serving Cafe lechero.

Do someone know and can recommend more places? Please, leave a comment below to share the experience.

And thus ends my search for the perfect coffee – At least until next year.

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