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This is an incredibly special coffee to North Star and we cannot quite express how excited we are to be able to feature it once more – Finca Muxbal was on our offer list when we first opened back in 2013 and it was the first farm that Hols visited in her capacity as green buyer for Falcon. Muxbal has to be one of the most special places on earth. In the local Mame dialect, Muxbal means ‘place surrounded by clouds’. It is locations like these that make us feel truly privileged that we are able to do what we do and visit some of the most remote and magical areas in the world.
We have managed to secure 5 sacks of a beautiful honey process which every time we taste it reminds us of apple pie! Super sweet with honeyed notes of stewed apple and hints of cinnamon spice with a shortbread/pastry like aftertaste.
Be quick, this won’t hang around for long!
The farm is located in the southernmost part of the state of Chiapas near the town of Union Juarez – the stone pillar denoting the Guatemalan border is literally on the farm’s boundary! The 236 hectares that make up Muxbal are situated on a plateau between the Tacana and Tajumulco volcanos which provide perfectly fertile volcanic soil for the coffee that grows there. The farm itself is provided with fresh water from the Muxbal and Zarco rivers which flow through it and also provide the perfect spot for gorge swimming! To allow access to the farm, which stands on a plateau above the gorge, a feat of engineering has been achieved in the form of the ‘caracol’ – it translates to ‘snail’ and refers to the winding track that has been carved into the cliff-face to provide a 200m 4×4 climb up to the farm with22 twists and turns. It is absolutely not for the fainthearted but the brave are rewarded with a visit to one of Mexico’s best coffee farms.
Maeggi Rodriguez inherited the farm from her dad Don Enrique who purchased it in 1959. He was a real pioneer of his time establishing 3 key principles that remain as important today as they were then: social responsibility, environmental sustainability and the production of very high quality coffee. The evidence of these three principles can be seen around the farm and tasted in the cup. Over 90 hectares of the land is set aside as a natural reserve which teems with wildlife. The farm is Rainforest Alliance certified – housing for permanent and temporary staff is clean and comfortable and there is a fully stocked medical dispensary for the local community. The canteen is of a high quality – again, spotlessly clean where three nutritious meals are served for all each day. There is also a well-equipped school where uniforms and meals are offered as an incentive for attendance for the children of coffee pickers throughout the harvest.
Today, Muxbal is run by Maeggi and her son Jorge along with their clan of labradors! Incredibly, all aspects of processing take place at Finca Muxbal including the dry milling – this means Jorge and his team are able to oversee all aspects of production and be in control of the processing. Crucially though, it has also meant that Jorge is able to process the beans from his local neighbouring farmers in the village in Guatemala. This is a fantastic step forward here bringing about better cup profiles for those coffees and better pricing for those farmers too who were previously selling to farm gate coyotes.
Rather excitingly, Muxbal has expanded its operations to include a vast number of raised drying beds for the production of experimental honey and natural lots which we feel truly honoured to have secured through our partnership with Al Tomlins at Raw material – Hols first visited the farm with Al (who, at the time, was one of the owners of Small Batch in Brighton) and Kurt from Volcano – a trip that will go down in history! We were there to film the amazing film – The Origin – which you can view here to get a feel for the magic of Muxbal.
Raw Material – economic freedom through coffee
Raw Material is a social enterprise working with a global network of small scale farmers and coffee buyers to facilitate trade at stable, sustainable prices while improving quality, yields, and ultimately community outcomes. 100% of profit generated goes to producers, directly through payments for coffee, and through targeted investments designed to eliminate barriers between the booming specialty market and those producers who would benefit most through supplying it.
Chiapas is Mexico’s poorest state, has the largest indigenous population, and is the biggest producer of coffee. Raw Material have piloted a scheme with Jorge Gallardo Rodriguez to purchase the coffee of neighbouring smaller estates in the region
Perhaps the wonderfully complex quality of this coffee is due to an altitude of 1,600 metres above sea level, or the rich and fertile volcanic soils, or the meticulous care and attention that Maeggi and Jorge take in all aspects of harvesting and processing – it’s most likely a combination of all of the above! In blind cuppings, Muxbal has achieved higher scores than we might have expected for a Mexican coffee. If Mexico’s reputation for speciality coffee has often been muted then Muxbal really is a ruby in the dust.
Local pickups take place from the Roastery on Tong Road, please note we are still operating social distancing so ring the doorbell when you arrive and we can pass your order through the door. Please note our shutter doors will be down for security and temperature reasons but we are always in Monday-Friday between 9 and 5pm. We are offering free shipping for orders above £20 🙂
Once you have placed your order, you will receive an email to confirm it is being processed and then another one to let you know when it has been dispatched. We are currently operating with a 2-3 working day lead time to process your order once you have placed it. If you have ordered a Nova Bakehouse cookie kit, this will be posted on the next available Tuesday along with any other items you have ordered.
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Fantastic and slightly different coffee. Does taste like apple pastry - very moorish!
The taste of the coffee is amazing. I will surely be reordering 😊
Always amazing every time we order
Wow. So drinkable for the novice and wonderfully complex for the intermediates
Since visiting Leeds last year me and my wife found our favourite coffee shop. Since we bought our own bean to cup machine in lockdown I have been slowly trying different beans from North Star and now I've tried all the ones I wanted to it's time for my first review.
This bean is our absolute favourite. It's closely follow by Brazil & El Salvador that North Star sell, but I was always in two minds about which of the 2 was my favourite. Mexico was in my last 'to try' batch and it seems we saved best for last. It's got a nice strong flavour which isn't bitter at all. I am glad I don't have to mess around with the grind/strength setting on our machine any more as this is getting ordered in 1kg bags from now on!