Morning Coffee, by Jose Ramos
Coffee > Shopping > Puerto Rico
Nestled within Puerto Rico’s lush mountains a special shrub with deep green leaves thrives, white flowers and small red beans. Upon harvesting, these red beans produce one of the Island’s great treasures: coffee.
Puerto Rican coffee is cultivated under extraordinary conditions. The Island’s high mountains –some with altitudes in excess of 3,000 feet—ensure the purest quality. Plentiful rainfall and mineral rich volcanic soil contribute to the local java’s excellence. But the most notable factor is the bean; Puerto Rican coffee growers use the arabica bean, which is considered to be among the most flavorful and richest in coffee varieties.
Since the arrival of the first coffee beans to the Island in 1736, the homegrown brew has been enjoyed by the most discerning palates, including heads of state, European royals and the Vatican.
During the late 19th century Puerto Rico was one of the world’s top coffee producers, but hurricanes practically wiped out the industry. Luckily, coffee cultivation ultimately recovered enabling the heavenly Puerto Rican brew to be savored once again.
Café Rico, Rioja, Adjuntas, Coquí and Yaucono are just a few of the many different brands of Puerto Rican coffees. Two of the most famous homegrown brands are Alto Grande, which boasts a superpremium grade (the highest available), and Yauco Selecto, hailed by Wine Spectator Magazine as one of the world’s top coffees. These coffees can be purchased locally at any supermarket or via the Internet.
Coffee plantation tours may be arranged through some of the Nature/Adventure and Sightseeing operations. On these unique tours, the visitors get to sample the exquisite brews and see how the coffee is produced.
For a glimpse at what early coffee plantations were really like, visit Hacienda Buena Vista. Located just north of Ponce, the beautifully restored 19th century coffee plantation (part of the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico) has original furnishings and coffee processing equipment.