Since I’ve been traipsing down to Oaxaca (not that I’ve been there lately, sadly)—which would be since 1989—there’s been a revolution in the coffee available to local consumers. Back then, the best coffee we could find to brew at home was, well, mediocre, which seemed distinctly odd since plenty of coffee was grown and harvested just a couple of valleys away. I always figured they exported the good stuff.
One time, in the early 90s, we went for breakfast on a Sunday morning in Cholula (okay, that’s really in Puebla, but it’s about the same distance from the coffee-growing areas), and when we finally found a place that was open (probably not a good sign, but we were hungry!), the coffee was, well, the worst possible. The kindly owner-chef, after she sent her daughter around the corner to buy some eggs (she came back with them carefully carried in a pouch she made with her skirt hem—really!), brought us mugs of hot water and a jar of powdered or freeze-dried coffee. Now some of this stuff wasn’t too bad (e.g., Nestle’s espresso). But this particular jar had the special stuff—if you were Mexican: the sugar was already mixed in!
The look on my SIL’s face (a native Seattle-ite), who was desperate for some black drink: precious.
Now, they’ve got some fine coffees (right there next to the viscous mole negro starter paste, the all-time favorite of foodies visiting OAX), with lovely winsome lasses on the label, and we have some fresh from the southland, a thoughtful gift from considerate friends.