By TOM HINDLE — Hyattsville’s Vigilante Coffee Company attracts a loyal stream of followers from around the city and surrounding neighborhoods. To complement their customer variety, the coffee shop provides coffee from around the world, and since 2017, one coffee has stood out. Dubbed “Gloria,” this rare Mexican coffee is one of the most popular choices at Vigilante and has given a native Mexican coffee producer national — and even international — attention.
Vigilante first came across Gloria Carrizosa’s coffee at the Aromas de la Sierra coffee competition and auction in the Mazatec region of Mexico. The company has sponsors there and is always on the lookout for exports to add to the Vigilante selection.
“We have partners across Latin America. We want to help improve the quality at which producers produce coffee in the area,” said owner Chris Vigilante.
Carrizosa began as a coffee picker on others farms. She realized that going into business for herself would provide the most opportunity for her family. She overcame language and culture barriers to pursue her goal to produce a top specialty coffee. In 2017, Carrizosa finished second at the competition, which is designed to reach out to coffee producers in Mazatec. Her coffee was auctioned at 26,000 pesos ($1,276.34) per bag. Shortly after, Vigilante started to buy Carrizosa’s product, becoming the only roaster in the world to sell her coffee.
“Mexico is relatively new in the [specialty] coffee business, and we are very much at the forefront of that,” Vigilante said.
Unlike many coffees from the same region, “Gloria” has a flowery aromatics, a fruity flavor (like strawberry), a delicate mouthfeel, maple syrup lingering sweetness and a vanilla finish, says Franklin Ventura, Vigilante Coffee’s head roaster. The distinctive taste is due to Carrizosa’s meticulous harvesting process. Rather than spending a week gathering coffee regardless of its maturity, Carrizosa lengthened her process to three months and picks only the best of her harvest.
“It took me a lot of work to know what quality coffee was,” Carrizosa reportedly told the Mexican news service e-consulta.
Vigilante now sells a cup of “Gloria” at market price, which is typically around $7, and a bag for $38. It has also been added to the shop’s “Crème de la Crème” series. Chris Vigilante believes that the coffee’s distinction is worth the price.
“[Gloria] has always been a favorite. It’s like a seasonal wine,” he said.
Due to the special nature of the beans, roasting this coffee requires more attention. For any coffee, Ventura roasts three batches, testing each for quality and tweaking the process as necessary.
“It’s like creating a recipe,” he said. “[Gloria] is interesting because most of the Mexican coffees from the area weren’t as fruity.”
Vigilante plans to carry the fruits of Carrizosa’s hard work on a long-term basis.
“The goal is to continue this partnership and get everything she produces,” said Vigilante.