Review: Ah Cacao (Playa del Carmen, Mexico)

When Shutterbug and I found out we would be heading to Mexico for the destination wedding of some friends, I started doing a little research regarding where to buy coffee beans. Though Playa del Carmen does have a local coffee roasting company (Cafe Kaawa), they are unfortunately closed on Sundays, and the specialty grocery store in Playa that carries Cafe Kaawa is ALSO closed on Sundays, so that thwarted my plan. Instead, we opted to visit town and just explore, and this is how we ended up at Ah Cacao.

Ah Cacao appears to be a local chain of chocolate/coffee shops, where the focus is on the chocolate. They carry chocolate bars, cocoa powder, chocolate body products, chocolate ice creams… it’s a chocoholic’s paradise. Their coffee menu looks similar to what you might find at any second-wave coffee shop in the USA, complete with iced blended drinks. Most of the beans on the shelf were pre-ground, but there were a few bags of whole beans, so I grabbed the freshest one I could find, which was dated 21 Feb 2016 (My hope is that they packed the beans 21 Feb 2015, which means they were about 9 days old when we purchased them). The beans were still degassing and the bag was releasing delicious aromas of chocolate-almond goodness. I put the bag of coffee on my nightstand at the hotel, which made sleeping simultaneously pleasant and torturous!

This was my first experience with Mexican coffee. There was no origin listed on the bag, but based on my tasting notes, I am guessing these beans are mostly or completely sourced from Oaxaca, which is known for chocolaty flavors in their coffee. I suppose it’s only natural that a place called Ah Cacao would go that route.

French press: This was my favorite preparation method for this coffee. The coffee was chewy, thick and viscous with a fudgy flavor. It had a hint of nut flavor as well (peanut/almond), and it was like a brownie without all the sugar. No fruit flavor whatsoever. Smooth and satisfying if you’re looking for a very comforting cup!

Aeropress: This also made an enjoyable cup. If you don’t care for grit or the thicker mouthfeel of French press coffee, I would go this route. It was thinner in texture, with pronounced chocolate sauce and caramel flavors. Reminded me of a Milky Way bar.

V60: I love pour-over methods for some coffees, but I don’t think these beans benefit from the filtering. In the cup, although it smelled pleasant, the coffee tasted very flat and dull, especially compared to the earlier incarnations. With that said, it would provide an excellent base for adding milk/sugar/flavored syrups. I have since found out that Mexican coffees are often used as the base for flavored coffee beans because they are mild and sweet. However, as a black coffee drinker, I was kind of bored with this preparation method.

Summary: If you like cocoa flavors, this coffee will be right up your alley (though I don’t think you can buy Ah Cacao online). Brew it in a French press.

Ah Cacao‘s site (English)

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