Let’s Talk Coffee Mexico – Prospering in the New Reality

Let’s Talk Coffee Mexico arrived this week in Puerto Vallarta bringing together 250 coffee professionals from all aspects of the coffee supply chain

Let's Talk Coffee Mexico
Sunrise in Puerto Vallarta, the site of this year’s Let’s Talk Coffee event.

The thirteenth edition of Let’s Talk Coffee (LTC) landed in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico this week after a yearlong hiatus following LTC Panama in 2014. The event, hosted by importer Sustainable Harvest, brings together all the threads of the coffee supply chain from farmers, roasters, retailers, and even financiers and NGOs.

Coffee farmers learn about best practices in drying and storage of green coffee at Let's Talk Coffee Mexico.
Coffee farmers learn about best practices in drying and storage of green coffee at Let’s Talk Coffee Mexico.

Attendees hear a number of presentations each day and then in the afternoon there tend to be more hands-on activities and one-on-one meetings. Additionally, there’s a coffee bar where a number of baristas including multi-time champions  Julieta Vazquez Rivera and Fabrizio Sencion serve espresso-based drinks and hand-brewed coffee to attendees.

Let's Talk Coffee Mexico
A tequila tasting demonstrates how other industries have successfully adapted to a changing market in Mexico.

The theme of this year’s LTC event is œProspering in the new reality.  The challenges facing coffee farmers are many and well-documented, including diseases like roya and the continuing threat of climate change. And if coffee production is threatened, then everyone who depends on that supply chain is also threatened.

Part of what makes LTC interesting is hearing concerns from different perspectives. For example, presentations included best practices for drying and shipping coffee, while others gave examples of successfully diversifying revenue streams for farmers including adding cocoa and honey.

Sevan's Grill is an annual occurrence at Let's Talk Coffee where coffee roasters cook and serve the evening meal.
Sevan’s Grill is an annual occurrence at Let’s Talk Coffee where coffee roasters cook and serve the evening meal.

Other presenters spoke about the growth of the specialty coffee industry, specifically retail, in Mexico, while a representative from Jose Cuervo told the story of how the tequila industry has prospered in Jalisco by creating an entire recreation and tourist destination while promoting consumption of their product.

The presentations provide interesting speakers and information: here’s just one fascinating example Lindsey Bolger who spoke about World Coffee Research‘s work at protecting genetic diversity in coffee said that worldwide coffee farmers have access to approximately 36 different varieties of Arabica, while watermelon has almost 2,700 commercial varieties!

Let's Talk Coffee Mexico
Helen Russell, CEO and co-founder of Equator Coffee speaks about her journey in coffee and how her company recently won a national small business of the year award.

Helen Russell, CEO and co-founder of Equator Coffee, spoke about her 21-year history with the company, including their setbacks and triumphs, all of which helped the company win a national award for small business of the year.

Let’s Talk Coffee is about more than just a stream of presentations, however, it’s really about a chance to meet face-to-face with people who work all along the coffee chain, create real relationships, and have a lot of fun, since after a day of presentations and classes, every evening inevitably is a big party.

Let's Talk Coffee Mexico
An all-star team of Mexican baristas work the coffee bar non-stop throughout the event.

Following the days of activities in Puerto Vallarta, attendees have their choice of two field trips. One will go to visit the nearby tequila-producing area in Jalisco state while the other one will travel to the south of the country to visit coffee farms in Chiapas.

Let's Talk Coffee Mexico
Tiny baby sea turtles scramble to reach the ocean. The host hotel for Let’s Talk Coffee has a nursery to protect sea turtle nests and the young are released as night falls.

This is just a quick recap of the event so far, but I’ll have a complete report on this year’s LTC in the December 2016 + January 2017 issue of Barista Magazine. Stay tuned.

About Ken 256 Articles
Kenneth R. Olson (he/him) is co-founder and publisher of Barista Magazine the worldwide trade magazine for the professional coffee community. He has written extensively about specialty coffee, traveled near and far for stories, activities, and fun, and been invited to present on topics important to coffee culture. He is also an avid fan of the Portland Trail Blazers, the Washington Huskies, and public libraries.