My Ruta Maya coffee review is based on using medium roast whole beans. I ground them at home and brewed several cups in a Chemex. I didn’t love it, but don’t discount it based on this initial paragraph. Read on because you might actually love what I didn’t enjoy about it.
About Ruta Maya Coffee
Green coffee beans are shipped to Austin, Texas, from the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. These are organic, shade-grown beans created on the land of the Maya. Ruta Maya Coffee has been around since 1990, and now has products to sell as a result of teamwork between many Central American cultures: Maya, Ecuadorian, Mexican, Cuban, El Salvadorian, and Nicaraguan.
Arabica beans have a reputation for being the best, and these beans are 100 percent Arabica. Exceptional care is taken to get the roast right and then to preserve the freshness of each bag. Once the beans make it to Texas, they are roasted and packaged fresh daily.
Where the coffee is grown, crops are rotated out to sustain the land and help ensure that the farmers, their children, and their grandchildren always have work and land that will support their willingness and efforts. You’ll see it again and again on their site, “Opportunities para las Americas,” or “opportunities for the Americas.”
Ruta Maya coffee is organic, which is fantastic. That means the soil stays viable longer and you’re not drinking coffee that’s been sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals. Full-sun coffees are usually grown together, sprayed, and even encourage deforestation.
By choosing a shade-grown coffee, you support the forests and the natural richness of the soil. The soil stays fertile with the help of natural fertilizer and mulch. In turn, this supports wildlife and cleaner air.
This and the facts about how the coffee is grown in a way that’s good to the earth are two of my favorite things about Ruta Maya. What does Fair Trade mean in this case?
- There’s no child labor.
- Someone from Texas goes down to purchase the beans directly from the farming cooperations, which means they’re cutting out the middle man and the farmers get to keep more of the money.
- Customers get to know that their money is making a difference, not just padding someone’s pockets while the actual farmers and their families suffer.
- Farmers get living wages and indigenous communities are supported.
Which Coffee I Bought
Now that you have the background of the company and how the coffee is grown, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the review itself. I included all of the additional information because it does play into which coffee I will drink.
Knowing that a company like Ruta Maya does what it can to support the farmers may push me to buy their product when choosing between coffees with similar aromas and tastes. I would pay a little more for a coffee when I know the company tries to do good in the world versus just being exclusively financially driven.
I decided to try the Ruta Maya Organic Medium Roast Coffee. It’s described as a mild, full-bodied roast with mild acidity and a smooth, chocolatey flavor. Overall, I agree with that description. I’ll dive into a little more detail in a few minutes.
I went with a bag of whole bean coffee to get it as fresh as possible. The grinder I have at home right now is not my favorite type, but I knew it could get the job done.
Other roast options include:
- Dark Roast: This one is described on the Ruta Maya website as a “rich, distinctive, aromatic roast” that’s also smooth and not bitter like other dark roasts.
- Espresso Roast: This one, of course, is more intense than the others, and it has a chocolatey undertone like the medium roast. The site says you’ll get nice crema from it.
- Decaf Roast: The description of the decaf roast is similar to that of the dark roast. The caffeine is removed via a “Swiss water process,” which involves high-pressure water.
Cost, Shipping, and Packaging
This isn’t the most expensive coffee out there, but it’s not the least expensive, either. For a 2.2-lb bag on Amazon, you can expect to pay about $25.00. I consider $25.00 for a 2.2-lb bag reasonable (Check out the latest rates here!).
You can also get five-pound bags for about $50.00. On the Ruta Maya website, you can pay less for the actual bag, but you will also have to pay for shipping, the price of which will vary. If you have Amazon Prime, you won’t have to pay extra for shipping.
You can get 12-oz. bags of coffee on the Ruta Maya site for just under $10.00 and five-pound bags for less than $50.00. Be aware that the cost of shipping for a 12-oz bag to me (just outside of Atlanta, Georgia) was about $15.00 (this was not overnight shipping; in fact, it would have taken about a week, minimum), so it might not be worth it to get the smaller size.
I wouldn’t personally order a single small bag simply because the shipping would cost more than the coffee itself. If I were to make a larger order, I would probably consider several small bags just to try the different roasts and maintain as much freshness as possible.
A percentage of the profits goes to help the Maya in Chiapas by supporting their cultural and educational program. I love that some of the money goes to a good cause.
I have gone back and forth on my thoughts about the scent of the coffee (beans and ground). At first sniff, while they were still in the bag, I was unimpressed. I wondered if the bag affected the smell while they were still in it. (Maybe I was smelling the packaging?)
After grinding the beans, I was more hopeful. They smelled fresh, not stale. I detected a bit of acidity. They didn’t seem especially over-roasted, but maybe a little. I could pick out a chocolate note but nothing else really stood out. This didn’t change much at any point, through several pots of coffee.
The scent was good at first, but not great. Over the course of five or six days (I’ve made this coffee several times), the freshness of the scent declined quite a bit–both the whole beans in the bag and once they were ground. They smelled more acidic, but after a few days, they smelled better before they were ground instead of after.
Appearance of the Beans
When I opened the bag, the beans were not especially oily. They were medium to dark in color and on the smaller side. There’s not really much to report on these. They looked like your average coffee beans. I will say that though they weren’t oily, they didn’t exactly look “dry” (some beans look absolutely parched to me), either.
As I mentioned earlier, I made this in a Chemex and used water right off the boil. The filter was the Chemex brand (white, bonded). This is how I usually test coffees, so it offered a fair comparison between the Ruta Maya coffee and others.
This bloomed nicely right after it was ground. I can’t compare it to coffee grounds that sat around waiting to be brewed since I decided not to grind more than I needed at a time. As far as I understand, coffee that was recently roasted blooms better. There’s no roasting date on the bag (I really wanted to see one!), but I take the bloom as a good sign.
Each time, I made a medium-to-coarse ground because I planned to use a Chemex to brew my coffee. I used an electric blade grinder.
This felt smooth and almost creamy. It definitely didn’t seem thin at all. I would agree with the site description that the body is about a medium. It may have even tipped toward full.
The taste didn’t really surprise me once I had smelled the beans before and after grinding. I didn’t enjoy drinking it black, but I wouldn’t consider it a “bad” coffee at all. It tasted smoky and a bit over-roasted. I detected a hint of chocolate and what I thought was fruit, though I couldn’t identify it.
It was a little acidic and would probably be very good iced. I would probably prefer to drink this one iced rather than hot. The flavor was almost smooth, but wasn’t quite what I wanted from a medium, full-bodied roast. It also tasted like a darker roast than medium. It had a bitterness that lingered after each sip.
If you like Starbucks coffee, you’ll probably like this one. It’s not my personal favorite, but neither is Starbucks. If you like smoky, rich, bold flavors with a bitter aftertaste or like a coffee that can stand up to the flavor of different creamers and syrups, this one might be something you enjoy.
Because of the way Ruta Maya coffee is grown and what the company stands for, it’s coffee it’s easy to feel good about purchasing. I would probably buy it again simply because I know that my money can go toward saving the planet and treating people fairly.