Expo Café Orgullo de Puebla: The Pride of Puebla Expo Shines New Light on Regional Producers

Puebla is becoming a fundamental part of the production of Mexican specialty-coffee, with rising producers and retailers coming together to celebrate and learn from one another.

BY JORDAN BUCHANAN
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

Photos courtesy of Café con Ciencia

Coffee expositions attract a lot of hype and attention around the world, and they support the development of the coffee industry. In 2020, the state of Puebla in Mexico launched the coffee exposition for Poblano (from Puebla) coffee—Expo Café Orgullo de Puebla (Pride of Puebla).

In June of this year, Poblanos celebrated the fourth edition of the expo. It was replete with coffee growers, coffee-shop owners, roasters, baristas, and participants in the specialty competitions showcasing their crafts and celebrating Poblano coffee.

Kevin, seen here at the espresso machine during his performance at the Puebla Barista Championship, is a local coffee producer.

All these protagonists come together for this event, the culmination of a year’s work for the state-led program for agricultural development called Orgullo de Puebla. The goal of this program has been to improve the quality of coffee production, with an emphasis on specialty coffee, in Puebla. The state has sponsored training for coffee farmers to increase their capacity to produce high-quality coffee as well as offered financial support to farmers willing to collaborate in the state program. Renowned producers such as Enrique López of Finca Chelín in Oaxaca have been brought in to share their expertise.

Over the last four years, this training and support has led to an effervescence in specialty-coffee production in Puebla. Poblano beans boast diverse and complex flavors, which contend with the quality of long-serving specialty producers in Mexico.

Creating Connections in Puebla

A core aspiration of Expo Café Orgullo de Puebla is to facilitate connections across the coffee industry, as well as disseminating knowledge and curiosity among its members. It is not only a gathering of farmers selling their coffee production in a glorified market stall; this event exhibits the diverse range of actors in the coffee trade. Stalls are set up by coffee shops with their baristas serving coffees and producers selling their beans. Expo attendees and participants are able to wiggle their way through the many stalls to meet and greet coffee enthusiasts. Protagonists along the coffee chain are interacting with each other and building connections across that chain.

A barista competes during the Puebla Barista Championship at Expo Café Orgullo de Puebla.

One significant result of this interaction has been the growing barista knowledge of coffee producers. Many of the producer stalls now come with espresso machines and V60s, as the farmers and their families and friends prepare their own coffee thanks to the knowledge they have gained through connections made at the expo.

Competitions

The most grandiose feature of this expo was the centrally placed competition stage. Each year, the expo hosts several competitions that you find at the global specialty events. The competition stage attracted full seats and even more standing observers. The free flow of the competition was an appealing aspect for spectators; they could come and go from the area, returning with a filter coffee or flat white to listen into the barista’s speeches in comfort. This year’s Campeonato de Baristas Puebla (Puebla Barista Championship) winner was Aldair Olvera from Lattice Librería.

Aldair Olvera, who was ultimately the winner, performs during the Puebla Barista Championship.

Barista competitions are an opportunity to valorize and highlight the role of the barista in coffee. According to David Balbuena Cuapio, the organizer of the competitions and owner of Café con Ciencia, “It is a space to expose what a barista does, as a lot of the time their work is not recognized, seeing the barista only as a person that presses buttons and passes you a drink.” By raising the baristas on a platform to the Poblano public, this competition supports the wider appreciation for the workers in Puebla’s coffee scene, giving them much-deserved recognition for their contribution.

For All Poblano People

Oftentimes at these esoteric commercial events, only other specialists attend. However, the unique edge to Expo Café Orgullo de Puebla is that it is open to the public. The expo is centrally located at the city’s convention center and offers free entry. This accessibility to the event also increases accessibility to the specialty-coffee knowledge and community on display at the event. Consumers learned about coffee and observed the competitions, which piqued their curiosity about the industry. The expo was well attended, with many Poblanos buzzing around, sipping coffees, and building their understanding of the trade.

The Expo Café Orgullo de Puebla was open to all people, and well attended.

By facilitating connections and knowledge dissemination across the coffee community in Puebla, Expo Café Orgullo de Puebla has given impetus to the growth of specialty coffee in the state. The expo is not the only factor in the rise of specialty-coffee culture in Puebla , but the Orgullo de Puebla program and expo have made important contributions to this budding community.

Since 2020, Puebla City (the capital) has had a burgeoning specialty-café scene. Post-pandemic, many new coffee shops have opened that prioritize specialty in their stores. The owners and baristas have attended the annual expo and have used it to learn, compete, and connect with other people in the specialty community. The expo has significantly increased the awareness and associated importance of specialty coffee, which has become the standard to which protagonists in the trade aspire.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jordan Buchanan (he/they) is completing their Ph.D. in Latin American history at UC San Diego. Their research focuses on the growth of specialty-café cultures in producer nations in Latin America. Jordan grew up in Scotland and currently lives between there and Mexico when not doing doctoral work in San Diego. After purchasing their first AeroPress, Jordan has been an avid specialty-coffee enthusiast, which has added a new perspective to their lust for travel and exploration. 

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