Extending the Specialty-Coffee Frontier in Atlixco, Mexico

We explore two excellent cafés delivering quality drinks in the small Mexican town.

BY JORDAN BUCHANAN
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

Featured photo by Roberto Carlos Román Don via Unsplash

Most often, we find ourselves in specialty cafés in gentrified urban neighborhoods in major cities across the world. But what about in the small towns around the world? We escape our cities to enjoy a more tranquil environment. Rarely do we expect to also fulfill our desires for complex coffees as we encounter the devilish dark roast at commercial spots in rural towns.

However, key protagonists around the world are pushing the specialty frontier beyond major cities. In Mexican cities, there are a plethora of stimulating cafés to visit. And thanks to Marco Reyes of Brewers and more recently Díana Juárez Sánchez of Anagrama, specialty coffee is growing in Atlixco, promoting specialty to a wider audience.

Atlixco, Mexico

Atlixco is a flowery town located a short drive (less than 30 minutes) from Puebla City. Its history goes way back to before the Spanish conquest of the territory now known as Mexico. And the long liveliness of the town remains to this day. People from the city of Puebla often visit here on weekends. The weekend visitors and local inhabitants can enjoy the offerings of two piquant specialty cafés.

Marco brews a V60 pourover at Brewers.
Marco Reyes is the founder of Brewers, the first specialty-coffee shop in Atlixco. Photo courtesy of Brewers.

Brewers

Brewers was the first specialty café to open in Atlixco when Marco Antonio S. Reyes decided to pioneer specialty in the town. He had fallen in love with the specialty world through the Mexican Specialty Coffee Association’s events and working in Puebla as a barista at Pasticel. He thought: Why do we not have something like this in Atlixco? Since 2012, Marco has been promoting specialty coffee in the town.

Marco cares profoundly about his customers and his coffee farmers. The two groups are imperative to informing what he does as a coffee-shop owner and barista. In this café, you find yourself removed from the busy streets of the town in a secret garden or hideaway lounge (depending where you choose to sit) as you enjoy some of Mexico’s best coffee. Marco has extensive knowledge on the specialty industry in Mexico and will talk to you for hours about his passion for it. Going to Brewers is more than just an experience of drinking quality coffee; it is also an experience of consuming the rich knowledge of the industry.

The cozy courtyard at Brewers, with cafe tables and outdoor string lights on at night.
Brewers offers a place to relax and enjoy what Atlixco has to offer. Photo courtesy of Brewers.

Encouraging Local Farmers

Atlixco also sits at 1,800 meters above sea level. Marco has been supporting local coffee farmers to switch to specialty since 2017. He works with them on processing methods and learning from other specialty farmers in Mexico to earn higher prices for their coffee. Marco is proud of Atlixco, and it would fill him with pride to see Atlixquense (from Atlixco) coffee in the specialty scene. This pride and love for Atlixco are what have made Marco remain in this town for over 11 years selling specialty coffee in an unusual market. He wants the people of his town to enjoy the wonders of specialty coffee. Marco believes that good coffee should be available to everyone—those in Atlixco included.

A street view outside Anagrama.
Anagrama is Atlixco’s second specialty-coffee shop, a multi-roaster café that opened in 2022. Photo courtesy of Anagrama.

Anagrama

Anagrama is the second distinctively specialty café in Atlixco, opened in November 2022. Owner Díana Juárez Sánchez wanted to create a space for food, specialty coffee, and design in the heart of Atlixco. She perceived the town as an ideal spot for what she wanted to create in Atlixco: community formed around specialty-coffee spaces. Díana considers herself still forming her knowledge of specialty coffee, and has deep respect for her colleagues in the industry like Marco.

But her café does not leave you in doubt as a consumer as to whether this coffee shop needs more training to meet your coffee needs.

Díana combined her passion for coffee and interior design to create this unique café space in Atlixco. She feels that she now dedicates herself to what she always wanted to do: use her passion for design, coffee, and food to make her customers feel cared for. Anagrama is a multi-roaster, and you can find coffees from roasters all over the country here. It is a great spot to explore the variety of coffee available in Mexico while you converse with your friends, or the baristas, about your experiences in coffee and Mexico. Supporting Marco’s long-term endeavor, Díana is the latest protagonist to promote specialty coffee to the wider world in Atlixco.

Díana behind the bar, giving two peace signs with arms out.
Díana Juárez Sánchez operates Anagrama, melding her love of specialty coffee, food, and design together. Photo courtesy of Anagrama.

So why does extending the reach of specialty coffee beyond the city matter? As specialty enthusiasts, we share a dream that one day we can go anywhere and find a delicate, light-roasted filtered coffee or espresso-based drink. No longer will we have to carry an AeroPress Go in order to enjoy decent coffee while outside the city. And no longer will we have to wait in transport hubs, drinking intestine-damaging, homogenous commercial coffee.

This change starts by having more people aware of and demanding better coffee. To achieve that, we need protagonists like Marco and Díana who are willing to push the boundaries and encourage people to enter the specialty-enthusiast community.

Importantly, this change to consume more specialty coffee also benefits coffee farmers. If more people in more spaces beyond gentrified spots consume more specialty coffee, farmers will be able to gain more income more consistently for their production. Marco and Díana are making these outcomes more possible as we enjoy specialty in towns like Atlixco.

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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