My wife and I have been spending the winters in the province of Nayarit Mexico for the past 5 years. We fly to Puerto Vallarta (PV) on the west coast of Mexico and then travel a short distance north along highway 200 (Highway of the Heroes), to a town called Bucerias. This area is called Nayarit, and it is the province hugging a very large bay called Banderas. Banderas Bay is the Canadian whales’ favourite breeding location, so during the months from January to March, many Humpback whales can be spotted with their calves. The whales and the warm weather also bring the tourists and what do Canadians and Americans love to drink? You got it – Coffee!
As you might guess, there are many coffee establishments in Bucerias, and the coffee is very delicious. Mexico produces a lot of coffee a lot of which is organic. Most coffee is grown on small indigenous farms in the mountain regions along the west and east coasts of Mexico. Since the people discovered that the climate here is perfect for growing coffee and that the world demands this commodity second only to oil, the poor Mexican farmers take great care and pride in their coffee farms, and have for many years.
Bucerias is an authentic Mexican working class town of about 15,000 people which doubles from about November to April when the gringos arrive. One day while we were exploring the town for bakeries, fruit markets and cafés, we came upon a very unusual looking coffee shop called “La Esquina”. Since Mexicans leave all their doors and windows open most of the time, we could see that this cafe was not typical. We decided to check it out.
The place was filled with a lot of coffee related paraphernalia including grinders, roasters, photos, and, of course, coffee beans. There was a menu and so we ordered some Veracruz coffee. The Spanish lady behind the counter indicated to us in sign language that we should buy that bean. The next day, while walking by the store again, we met the owner, Fernando Hernandez. He said that he would be in the store on Saturday and if we stopped by, he would be able to tell us more about his business. So we agreed.
Fernando Hernandez, a very handsome and soft spoken middle aged Mexican gentleman spoke about his business and background very graciously. He opened this unique coffee store on Vicente Guerrero #6-B, in Bucerias Centro a few years back. It is so close to the church and the square downtown Bucerias, you just have to drop by and see for yourself.
Fernando was born and raised in the area. He was telling about how he got into the coffee business. His English is pretty good. Fernando went to architecture school and worked for many companies around Mexico building condominiums. This was not the life for him. He opened up this very unique cafe in Bucerias as a result. Fernando knows his Mexican coffees and he specializes in the best coffee Mexico has to offer – Veracruz, San Sebastian, Chiapas, and Oaxaca.
Check these regions out on a map and you will notice that Oaxaca and Veracruz are neighbours, with Oaxaca on the Pacific and Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico. Chiapas and San Sebastian are on the west coast, also. They are all in the mountains of course, but at slightly different elevations, Oaxaca being the highest. Maybe that’s why Fernando thinks that Oaxaca coffee is the best. The higher the elevation, the stronger the flavours.
Oaxaca coffee originated in Yemen Africa and was genetically produced to create similar beans. Since 1993, this coffee is working closely with CEPCO (Coordinadora Estatal de Productores de Café de Oaxaca), which promotes organic production. This group is trying to provide local farmers with economic security. CEPCO was able to unite small producers throughout the Oaxaca region and uses the revenue from their Fair Trade sales to provide credit and savings support for its members, promote women’s organizations and give technical assistance to families. All this good news is happening here in Mexico right next door to Veracruz. Oaxaca coffee is certified Fair Trade Organic, and Fernando sells it in his store.
That’s another reason you must visit beautiful Bucerias Nayarit Mexico.
Veracruz is located on the Gulf of Mexico and is Mexico’s oldest and most historic port since Mexico was colonized by the Europeans. The warm climate and lush tropical hillsides make this area perfect for profitable coffee growing. The farms here produce 20% of Mexico’s coffee. The USA import most of their coffee from Mexico and some of the more popular Veracruz beans are Altura, Liquidambar MS and Pluma Coixtepec.
Adán Altamirano Domínguez, owner of the Estribo coffee farm in Mexico’s Zongolica region, won Mexico’s third-ever Cup of Excellence competition in May with a coffee scoring 91.59. This area produces 6 million pounds of coffee annually. The farm is at an elevation of about 1430 meters above the sea and Creole beans make up most of his crop. There are a few others. Adan Dominguez had the property handed down to him from his father and it is truly a Mexican garden of Eden, filled with not only rows and rows of coffee plants, but a natural water reservoir, and many kinds of trees including avocado and pine, which protect the coffee plants. Adan Altamirano Dominguez and and all those who work on his plantation are proud of their award and their achievements to date.
Since the arrival of coffee into the Mexican culture in 1796, the people immersed themselves into this stimulating drink. Some would argue that the Chiapas region has the best. Chiapas has a famous coffee route, that will lead the modern day adventure traveler into the lush green mountains, exposing them to 19th century haciendas and 21st century ecotourism. The plantations are open for you to stay and not only enjoy the Chiapas’ flavors, but to stay awhile and bird watch, horseback ride, wrap yourself in the flora and fauna, and the many conservation programs. End your day with a spa treatment and a great cup of coffee.
The Irland plantation will escort you into the cloud forest and the Chiripa plantation will test your taste buds with its award winning Marago gourmet coffee.
San Sebastian is about an hour’s drive just inland from Bucerias and Puerto Vallarta. It was founded in 1605 by the Spanish, and gold, silver, and lead were mined there. By 1785, more than 25 mines and foundries were established. Today, it is all about coffee. This mountain village has a museum, an old church, and great bird watching, but I would go there for lunch and to experience their fabulous coffee. As you drive through the mountains, over the canyon, and past the agave fields, the smell of San Sebastian coffee will give you a great big hug. Rafael Sanchez roasts coffee at his fifth-generation, family owned “La Quinta, Cafe de Altura”. Ask him for his special recipe. I think it has something to do with cinnamon.
Remember, Fernando, the owner of Cafe La Esquina in Bucerias, sells San Sebastian coffee. Bucerias is just up the road by bus from PV, so if you can’t make the mountain bus tour or if you have no wheels, just stop by La Esquina and talk with Fernando.
Tostador de Cafe La Esquina – Vicente Guerrero 6, Sin Nombre Loc. Bucerias, Nayarit Mexico
Cafe La Esquina – TripAdvisor
Cafe La Esquina – Facebook page.
Coffee producer from Veracruz wins Cup of Excellence Mexico – 2014 article on Sustainable Harvest.
Haciendas and coffee plantations: an aromatic experience – From VisitMexico.com.
San Sebastián, Jalisco – Wikipedia page