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Coffee — México

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An estimated 100,000 mostly small farmers grow 250 million metric tons of coffee per year in México, generating about $270 million in revenue, making México the 9th largest producer of coffee in the world and the largest exporter of coffee to the U.S.

First arriving in the late 1700s from the Antilles islands, coffee beans were not exported in quantity from México until the 1870s. Today, coffee is grown primarily in two main regions of the country, referred to as the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico Slopes. Producing about two-thirds of the coffee grown in the country, the Pacific Slope, so named because it lies on the western slope of the Continental Divide, covers all of Chiapas and the southern highlands of Oaxaca and Guerrero. Lying on the other side of the Continental Divide, the Gulf of Mexico Slope, producing the remaining third, covers parts of the northern highlands of Oaxaca and most of Puebla and Veracruz.

Generally speaking, Méxican coffee falls into two broad categories — café de altura, or highland coffee, and prima lavado, or prime washed. In terms of the quality of the coffee bean, altitude is considered important. So café de altura beans, grown at an altitude of 900-1200 meters, are generally considered to be of higher quality than prima lavado beans, grown at an altitude of 600-900 meters.

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