The Biltmore to Puerto Vallarta and back

Don Senneville and Jim White

$12 US dollars for a C+ Cappuccino. Yes, that’s the Biltmore. $9 US dollars for a fake Pistachio Gelato that was really just ice cream. Yes, this was not Italy. OK, so traveling expands your horizons, it also spoils your taste-buds so as to make you less than satisfied by your expectations. We realize that this is a 1st World problem, but really, fresh espresso or coffee pods! Hopefully, Mexico has met Don’s pocket-book and taste-bud expectations.
Here’s our report on that!

Don had assigned himself the task of investigating the coffee experience in Puerto Vallarta. This ‘assignment’ was no doubt a tough one (not), but he has returned with some coffee stories to tell. He focused his investigation in old town Vallarta, which is the only place he ever goes in the city. After coffee on the beach, looking out over the Bahia de los Muertos, and having an Americano to go from a new spot on the Basilio run by a nice young couple.
(Don wishes them well – their coffee was among the best in town). Not having coffee at Starbucks (of which there are a few in old town Vallarta), he says he’s come to believe in Mexican coffee.

He reports that there are some forward-looking (young) entrepreneurs whose organically grown coffee can be found in several local markets (not in the OXXOs [think Circle K] yet). One of these in particular, under the name Cafe Guevara, has a grocery outlet (La Bodeguita del Cafe) that offers coffee he says is wonderful – organic, smooth, with a touch of sweetness, and a long finish (maybe Don was drinking wine instead of coffee). Their beans are grown in the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Sanctuary, on the tops of hills. They say they’re the only grower who is allowed in the bird sanctuary, since they don’t bother the birds. We’re fuzzy on how this makes the beans better. Don says it’s the bird-friendly vibes. Maybe it’s fertilizer.

Another of these entrepreneurial young people showed up on the beach, where, if you know Mexico beaches, just about everything is sold. He carried a sign that said, “Organic Coffee from My Home in Puebla.” (Nice touch, Don thought.) The Battle of Puebla was the defeat of the French in Mexico on May 5th, 1862. If not for the Mexican Army, Don would be eating omelets instead of tacos! He says he watched the young man (a kid, really) from his beach chair in the shade of a large umbrella. He noticed this young entrepreneur was accompanied by someone who could have been his sister, carrying a sign with the same message, Organic Coffee from My Home in Puebla.

Don started thinking about where Puebla is.

He realized it’s a 12-hour drive from Puerto Vallarta, around Mexico City, all the way to the west coast. Why not Mazatlan or Guadalajara? Maybe there are more sales-people on the team? Or maybe they were actually from Puerto Vallarta. Their coffee was presented in shiny green party- bags.

Don bought some, of course, but we don’t have a report yet on how it tasted. He made it back home just in time for Cinco de Mayo, May 5th, 2024….

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