Brian Beyke

Kickapoo Coffee Roasters - Agustin Gomez Mexico

Brian Beyke
Kickapoo Coffee Roasters - Agustin Gomez Mexico
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Maintaining truly direct and meaningful relationships with farmers is extremely difficult for coffee roasters, as importing and communicating with farmers takes resources most small companies do not have. To overcome this obstacle, Kickapoo Coffee is an owner-member of Cooperative Coffees, a fair trade importing business owned by 23 like-minded roasters who are actively engaged in supporting our own importing cooperative. They import over 85 percent of our coffees through Cooperative Coffees, and this number is increasing each year as they develop partnerships with new producers around the world.

Through Cooperative Coffees they set the bar higher for the fair trade world. Their pricing minimum is set at a price that is substantially above fair trade standards. They also offer our farmer-partners much-needed pre-harvest financing.

Fair trade at Kickapoo Coffee goes beyond pricing to building relationships and partnerships with their growers. Because they import our own coffees, they are communicating with growers directly, not through a middleman. Maintaining direct relationships with producers is very different from buying and selling fair trade coffee from an importer. Kickapoo gets to participate in the lives of our farmers directly, seeing where the roadblocks are, and devising solutions for a more sustainable partnership.  One of those farms happens to be Agustin Gomez Hernandez, let us learn more.

Traditionally, Mexico has been a country not typically well known for producing standout coffee.  For years, what we’ve tasted from Mexico had been poorly processed, masking the potential that exists in this amazing country. Mexico has all the right ingredients for producing some of the best coffees in Central America: high altitudes (1200-1800 Meters), heirloom coffee varieties (typica and bourbon), and very fertile soils. In the last number of years, that potential has begun to surface. Particularly in the case of our friend Agustin Gomez Hernandez.

TJ and Caleb have made two visits to Agustin this year, once before harvest, and once again as the harvest was wrapping up. Now in his seventies, Agustin is the cooperative’s largest member and an amazing success story. From modest beginnings as a landless, seasonal picker, he was able to slowly save, purchase his own farm and grow it to 10 hectres over many years with his exceptional coffees.

Agustin’s farm is located in the community of Emilio Zapatas, just outside of Tuxtla Gutierrez in Chiapas, just a few hours from the Guatemala border. He is a member of the Comon Yaj Noptic (Comon) Cooperative that has 186 small to medium sized members. Comon is a part of a larger, umbrella organization known as El Triunfo and they own and operate their own dry mill.

Comon is one of the first cooperatives in Mexico to start segregating individual farmer lots from their best producers. This allows members the capacity to have a direct relationship with buyers as well as the possibility of negotiating quality premiums.

Details:

Roaster: Kickapoo Coffee Roasters

Region: Emiliano Zapata, Chiapas

Farm: Agustin Gomz (Comon Cooperative)

Process: Pulped, Dry Fermented, Patio Dried

Varietal: Bourbon, Typica, Caturra

Elevation: 1,675 - 1,750m

Brew Method:

Kalita Wave | 34g © to 552g (w) | 3:45 total time | 201 degrees | 1.31 TDS | 19.70% Ext.

Your first sips are a bit surprising.  You find a cup that first comes off a bit spicy on the front, then opens up a bit brighter with apple skin and grape sweetness, slightly candied and nutty before a milk chocolate finishing.  Medium bodied, creamy mouthfeel.

Being the first sips, I’ll let this cool and see how it shifts.

As it cools you find those grape notes open up a bit more, cleaner, and almost giving a melon-like vibe (thinking honeydew specifically, but cantaloupe too).  With that, English toffee sets the creamy base of the cup, a bit nutty but mostly sweet, honey dipped, and slightly dry but lingering in sweetness.  

The aroma in the cup is still sweet and vanilla lined- really enticing.  Mid-cup those clean fruit notes still ring out, led by a slightly tart green grape acidity and then finished with a creamy honey and vanilla finishing, with trails of spice and dark chocolate now in the finish.  This is a really pleasing, balanced, approachable coffee for all drinkers, and I’m beginning to think that this will make a delicious espresso base.

It tastes similar to how it is articulated. “CHEE-AH-PASSSSSSS”

The final sips are so sweet!  Cherry cream, melons, grape, kiwi, spread out with easy access to cream cheese fruit dip, maybe even a few chocolate dipped fruits in there too.

Medium bodied, creamy, clean fruits, grape acidity, chocolatey finish.

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Brew Method:

Chemex | 30g © to 480g (w) | 3:45 total time | 200 degrees | 1.31 TDS | 19.40% Ext.

Clean aromas- grape, apple, caramel.

The intro to the cup is soft.  Very much filled with cinnamon and spices and caramel sweetness (more spice though), but how soft it is prevents it from being abrasive.  After that you can sense notes of cocoa, honey, grape and apple skin, but I may let this sit to really let those notes draw out and spice dissipate.  More than some other coffees, this strikes a unique chord between savory spices and resonant sweetness to reach a wide range of drinkers.

As it opens you get a nice cherry sweetness and underneath is just layered with honey sweetness, ending with a bit of drying almond.  

Every further the body remains on the medium side of things, crisp apple on the front with a rich cocoa structure nicely finish.

The final sips continue a nice honey sweetness, with cherry, grape, and chocolate covered pretzels in the finish.

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Brew Method:

V60 no stir | 14g © to 227g (w) | 1:55 total time | 200 degrees | 1.32 TDS | 19.85% Ext.

Much more juicy start than the previous makes, still spiced but it creates a really nice presentation with the more round body.  If you are a classic Guatemala fan, keep reading.

Slightly nutty, notes of clove, cinnamon, Apple Jacks, and lingering cocoa.

Opening further is intriguing.  It cleans up a bit, adding cream and a maltiness that reminds me of Whoopers, still with sweet chocolate, and now adding in cleaner fruit bursts of cherry, dried strawberry, and some grape.  

Finial sips add some caramel to the cup to give a nice palpable finish to the otherwise clean and sweet fruity and chocolatey cup you experience. It could be that this is a bit older of a make, but there are lingering elements of pepper that aren’t necessarily a deterrent, actually quite interesting to encounter.  The first make I said this would probably make a good espresso base, and this make makes me think it would be a great bridge coffee for those coming over to specialty coffee.

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Brew Method:

Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 240g (w) | 2:00 then plunge by 2:30 total time | 198 degrees | 1.32 TDS | 19.75% Ext. (Immersion mode)

At it’s warmest moments, this coffee gives nods to melted tootsie roll sweetness, slightly juicy with green grape and green apple skin, with a slightly spiced finish.  It almost reminds me of Mexican hot cocoa, as you notice the raw cocoa with elements of spices the more it cools, but it always carries a brighter green apple note in the acidity with a squirt of lemon following.  It also to some extent carries a bit of saltiness that makes me think of olives.

Opening further it sweetens into that more juicy profile we’ve said in previous makes.  Soft honey now coats and floats down the tongue as green apple opens each sip, cherry, raisin, and red and green grape sweetness it while chocolate and cinnamon covers the notes as it floats into the finish.  However, the lingering does seem to give more drying thoughts like wood, pear, and blackberry.

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I seem to have mentioned it in all the makes, so it must be applied to the summary- this coffee is fully accessible.  It has an intro that your grandpa will love, and an ending that you and your friends will tweet about.  I really enjoyed the ending, as it doesn’t quite seem like it would pack as much flavor in from your initial sips, but you’ll be surprised.  I was also right about the espresso thing, it performed really well for cappuccinos and cortados alike.  This is a solid and balanced offering that straddles the lines between rustic and sweet- an all-day kind of coffee not just from Mexico, but in general.  

Co-host of the I Brew My Own Coffee Podcast and always has all the chocolate. I also love to play board games. Yea, let's go do that right now.