Mexican coffee is less about a bean or a kind of roast and more of an experience. Cinnamon, sugar, and other flavors are incorporated right into the brewing, rather than added later. The result is a coffee that is complex, smooth, and just a little spicy.
It’s a rich way to drink coffee, and maybe a little bit intimidating. But don’t worry: with the right beans, you’ll be able to replicate what your resort or favorite restaurant got so perfect on your last vacation.
We tested and wrote reviews of some of the best Mexican coffees on the market. We also included a buyer’s guide after them, because it’s pretty important to know how to shop for Mexican coffee before you do it. We hope they help you find a coffee variety you’ll love.
|New Mexico Piñon Coffee |
|Volcanica Mexican Coffee|
(Top Ground Coffee Pick)
|Coffee Bean Direct Organic Mexican Roast|
(Top Decaf Pick)
|Cafe De Olla: The Authentic Mexican Ground Coffee||Medium||4.2/5|
|Anthony's Organic Mexican Altura Arabica Beans||Medium||4.0/5|
Surprisingly, our favorite Mexican coffee beans come from New Mexico. New Mexico’s Piñon Coffee has those hints of cinnamon spice and chocolate that make for excellent Mexican coffee. Those notes give it a superior, exotic flavor that meshes well with a medium roast.
The company used to flavor its coffee with piñon nuts but has discontinued that over scarcity issues. That might make a difference if you are a long-time customer used to that extra flavor, but if you’re new to Mexican coffee, you’ll never miss what you never had.
Volcanica’s Mexican Coffee got our nod for best Mexican ground coffee. Depending on what you are looking for in a coffee, it might even be your top pick.
We like that it adds the nuttiness of hazelnut to an already complex blend of roasted beans and unusual flavors. It’s an interesting twist. The coffee is delicious on its own, and the difference between hazelnut added at the start of brewing versus after in a flavored creamer is notable.
It got our number two ranking because it’s ground, as opposed to being whole beans. We prefer whole beans because it’s a more versatile purchase. You can grind them to suit your preferred method of brewing. They also retain their potency longer than packaged pre-ground coffee. If you’re spending money on coffee, we think it’s better to invest in beans. However, if you just want something tasty to throw into your drip maker, you might rank this as your top pick.
Decaf SWP Organic Mexican City Roast gets our nod for top decaf pick because it’s a top-flight coffee that surprisingly won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
There are two realities to decaf coffee. Because the decaffeinating process involves heating the same beans twice, and usually with chemicals, it’s often light on flavor and heavy on bitterness. This one uses premium Swiss Water processing to leach out caffeine without using chemicals, so it’s smooth and without bitterness. It’s also pretty strong for a decaf.
Another drawback of removing caffeine is that flavor can sometimes be inconsistent. That’s the case with this variety. If you’re buying a specialty coffee like Mexican, you want consistent results. Unfortunately, this coffee can vary.
When it comes to a great Mexican coffee, Cafe de Olla is the real deal. Among all the coffees we looked at, this one stood out as the most flavorful. We were tempted to give it our top overall rank for ground coffees, but ultimately it came down to a matter of value.
It gets the flavor and texture right. It’s a complex blend of spice and medium roast coffee. It’s not just a drink that works on several different layers, and it lacks the bitterness associated with dark roasts.
However, it’s expensive enough that it’s probably outside the boundaries of everyday drinking unless you normally spend oodles of money on coffee. It also comes pre-ground, so it won’t stay fresh for long.
Anthony’s Organic Whole Bean Coffee isn’t, strictly speaking, Mexican coffee. Yes, the beans are grown in Mexico, so it’s Mexican coffee. It’s just not a flavored Mexican coffee.
Many of our other coffees had the spices and sugars already mixed in. For this one, you’ll have to do that yourself after you make it. It’s our fifth pick purely because of that.
Otherwise, this is an outstanding coffee and a great base for a Mexican coffee. We like that it comes in whole beans rather than grounds, so you can grind it yourself based on your preferred brewing method. It’s also priced to be a good value.
We think of the Lacas Coffee Company Mexican Dark decaf as an decaffeinated version of Anthony’s Organic Whole Bean coffee. It’s got great flavor and sets a great tone if you want to make it into a Mexican coffee drink, but you need to add the cinnamon and sugar during the brewing process yourself.
This coffee has great flavors, with notes of cherry and chocolate. Add a little cinnamon and sugar while you heat it and you’ve got yourself a great Mexican coffee. So, if you don’t mind doing a little work, we can recommend it.
We do note that it is a decaf, which we hold against it only because most people don’t drink that. It’s also somewhat expensive compared to some of the other coffees we evaluated.
Fresh Roasted Coffee’s Dark Mexican Chiapas Organic needs a little bit of sugar to make it a proper Mexican coffee. Then it needs a little more sugar to cut its sour taste. It’s also more expensive than you might like, though this coffee is certified Organic.
Once you get past all that, however, you’ve got yourself a coffee that you can call a Mexican coffee. It’s bold and dark with a few whiffs of chocolate and spice. We like that it’s sold in whole beans, so it’ll stay fresh longer, though the five-pound bag may be too large. Unfortunately, the flavors aren’t very complex and there is some bitterness.
In a crowded market, you can expect some products that might have delivered great results compared to the rest to simply fall by the wayside. That’s the fate of Dancing Moon’s Dark Roast whole bean coffee.
One thing we like about it is that for a dark roast, it’s smooth. Dark roasts have a reputation as robust, in-your-face coffees. This one slinks in. We also like that this particular product is a whole bean. That means you are in control of how finely it gets ground.
You are paying for that versatility. Within the field, it’s expensive compared to other brews. When it comes to flavor, however, it doesn’t stand out. That makes it a suboptimal value.
Keurig coffee makers are a popular specialty way to make coffee. Because you’ll need a K-cup-compatible machine to brew this coffee, we’re ranking it a bit lower than the more versatile options above. However, Green Mountain’s Van Houtte Mexican Coffee K-Cup is quite tasty.
It has great flavor and brews quickly without a lot of work. But it’s still a K-cup. Is it worth buying a Keurig coffee maker just to make this? You may be better off spending a little extra money getting a decent bag of ground coffee and putting in a little effort. These K-cups also aren’t very environmentally-friendly and have a reputation for poor seals.
Our least favorite option is Café Bustelo’s Mexican Style Instant Coffee. It’s fast and convenient, but the flavors are very limited and you won’t find much body or mouthfeel. Instant coffee can be delicious if you’re camping or traveling, but you can’t beat the complex flavors and aromas of freshly-ground coffee beans.
We also found this coffee unexpectedly expensive. It approximates Mexican coffee, but for the money, you can do better.
Take a look at our guide to brewing the best possible cup of Café Bustelo.
Not sure where to start? We put together this buyer’s guide full of tips and hints so you can find the right coffee for you.
The best Mexican coffees tend to be medium roasts. That’s a good landing place between a robust dark and a complex light. Sugar and spices do a better job complementing a medium roast, rounding out the flavor and producing a delicious, smooth cup of coffee.
If you’re looking at something marketed as Mexican coffee that isn’t a medium roast, you may want to think twice.
The thing that makes coffee Mexican is the complex blend of smooth medium roast coffee and spices. Usually, Mexican coffee is associated with brewing coffee with cinnamon and sugar right in there with the beans, but some of the better coffees have included a few other flavors like hazelnut to improve their complexity. Those are sublime coffees worthy of savoring.
When you’re shopping for Mexican coffee, make sure you’re not just buying coffee beans grown in Mexico. Look for ones that incorporate the complex flavors of Mexican coffee.
In our experience, pre-ground coffee lends itself better to hitting those flavor notes. That’s because the flavor isn’t kept in the beans themselves, but is added after the grinding process. Pre-ground coffee comes with those mixed into the coffee.
We prefer buying beans, however. The beans can be flavored before purchase, so they’ll have those complexities present upon grinding. The big advantage, however, is that beans are easier to keep fresh for longer. We tend to think of Mexican coffee as an occasional pleasure. You might have everyday coffees for the morning, but you’re going to have a flavored coffee when you have a chance to enjoy it.
Unlike other specialty coffees, you can find good options for Mexican coffee in a variety of brewing methods. The pre-ground coffees are intended for regular drip coffee makers, but if you get beans, it’s possible to get good Mexican coffee out of any brewing system. Just remember that coffee made with boiling water will probably be a bit more bitter than coffees made with merely hot water.
Mexican coffee is something of a specialty drink, so don’t shop for it on the cheap. If you have a tight budget that won’t permit you to spend a little extra, consider finding or making a cinnamon-sugar syrup to add to regular medium roast coffee to mimic the flavor profile of Mexican coffee.
Some decent varieties don’t cost too much money. Figure out how often you’ll want Mexican coffee, how much is in your budget, and then bring the two together. That should help you settle on a purchase.
New Mexico’s Piñon Coffee might not be flavored with piñon nuts anymore, but it’s still top in our reviews of Mexican coffees. It does everything right, but costs just enough to make it an expensive habit. Volcanica’s ground Mexican Coffee was our pick for top ground Mexican coffee for its rich, complex flavor. We just prefer whole beans to pre-ground. Decaf SWP Organic Mexican City Roast got our nod for top decaf Mexican coffee for delivering a combination of flavor, value, and chemical-free processing, although you might find the flavor results inconsistent.
Sweet, spiced, and chocolatey, Mexican coffee makes for a delicious afternoon treat or morning pick-me-up. But finding the right beans can be tricky, so we hope this list of the 10 best brands, complete with detailed reviews and a quick buyer’s guide, helps you shop. Your new favorite coffee beans await!
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