The Coffee Drinker’s Guide to Puerto Rico

puerto rico coffee

 

If you are a coffee-lover then Puerto Rico is the right island for you!  Puerto Rican coffee is known to produce a smooth, aromatic and richly flavored brew.  We admit that we never travel without  a pound of Puerto Rican coffee in our suitcases – once you have coffee here, a Maxwell House or Dunkin Donuts coffee just doesn’t stack up!

A Short History of Coffee in Puerto Rico

Coffee production began in the 1700’s in the rich volcanic soils of the central and western mountainous regions.  It quickly became one of Puerto Rico’s biggest exports, and Puerto Rican coffee was known throughout the world as a premier coffee. In fact, it was the official coffee of the Pope for several centuries!  Entering the 1900’s, sugar cultivation quickly took over as the main crop and coffee production declined.  However, it continued on at the same level of quality, but was under-marketed, and may throughout the world forgot about Puerto Rican coffee.  Today, the tradition of quality continues… in fact, Alto Grande coffee is a super-premium coffee, one of only three in the world (next to Kona of Hawaii and Blue Mountain of Jamaica).

How to Drink Coffee in Puerto Rico:

Puerto Rican coffee traditionally is served three ways, all in small cups.  There is no super-sizing or icing; it is all about strength:

  • Expreso: Brewed in an espresso machine and usually taken black.
  • Cortadito:  An expresso layered with steamed milk.
  • Café con leche: Like a latte, served with warm milk.

There are several ways to get your coffee fix while in Puerto Rico….

Coffee Houses and Shops

In recent years, artisanal coffee and coffeehouses has become more popular and so there  are several coffeehouses and shops in Puerto Rico where you can experience the rich tradition of Puerto Rican coffee.

Caribbean Trading Company Store – Rio Grande:  Offering its own brand of Arabica coffee bought directly from the local farm, this coffee offers a wonderfully smooth flavor.  Free daily tastings available in-store and whole bean and ground are available, along with many other local brands.

Old San Juan: This area has recently filled up with coffe houses with certified baristas, serving authentic quality Puerto Rican coffee straight from the farm.

  • Aromas Café – Old San Juan:
  • Café Poetica – Old San Juan: This shop has the feel of a writer’s den and is perfect for relaxing and reading the paper or working in a project.
  • Cuatro Sombras – Old San Juan:
  • Caficultura – Old San Juan:
  • PRTea – Old San Juan: featuring their own coffee and tea blends.
  •  Café Cola’o – Old san Juan Cruise Pier

Visit Coffee Haciendas

The following offer a variety of tours and tastings.  It is best to  research and call ahead to verify that they are operating tours when you need them.

  • Hacienda Pomarrosa in Ponce — www.cafepomarrosa.com.
  • Hacienda Buena Vista in Ponce —  Puerto Rico Conservation Trust web site
  • Hacienda San Pedro in Jayuya — open on weekends with a small museum and coffee shop.  Formal tours are available, but definitely call ahead.  787-828-2083
  • Hacienda Palma Escrita in Las Marias — 787-210-8252
  • Hacienda Monte Alto in Adjuntas — 787-829-5353
  • Sandra Farms in Adjuntas — www.SandraFarms.com.

PR Coffee Tours

  • Specialty Coffee Cupping Tour – this tour is offered by the folks at Flavors of San Juan.  It is a 1hr. introduction to coffee and takes place in Old San Juan.
  • La Ruta del Café – this day trip tours travels the coffee route. Operated by AdvenTours

Additional Options:

Coffee Museum in Ciales – a small museum that offers a great overview of the coffee history of Puerto Rico.  More detailed information here.

Coffee and Chocolate Expo – September 28-29 at the Puerto Rico Convention CenterThe event will feature over 100 exhibition spaces, workshops, lectures, samplings,  and demonstrations by professionals in the coffee and chocolate industries.

Café Plus Magazine: this magazine follows the coffee industry in Puerto Rico and can be found for free around San Juan.  You can also find them here.

Coffee Festival in Maricao — Annual festival, usually the second weekend in February (but double check the dates to be sure).

Captain Tim
Captain Tim

Captain Tim is the founder of Caribbean Trading Company in Puerto Rico. Many years ago Captain Tim was a normal everyday guy who decided to do what so many people only dream about. He moved to the Caribbean. Traveling throughout the islands, he has the joy of sharing this lifestyle and its flavors with the world.