Coffee: Puerto Rico's other favorite drink
While most consider rum Puerto Rico's most famous and popular drink, a quick review of Island history may leave one thirsting for a different type of brew. Since the Spanish introduced the bean to Puerto Rico in the 1700s, coffee has been a staple of Island life, culture and business. Grown and harvested in the center region of the Island, locals enjoy this local product in pocillo (espresso),cortadito (espresso with steamed milk) or café con leche (a latté). Island visitors can not only do the same, but can also partake in unique and captivating tours of local coffee plantations.
Puerto Rico boasts roughly 4,000 coffee farms occupying an estimated 40,000 acres of land in the middle of the island. Farmers use this land to produce some 20 million pounds of coffee a year, generally exporting around 10 percent of the harvest. It is said that the Vatican serves Puerto Rico's Alto Grande Super Premium Coffee, one of just three coffee brands in the world bestowed with the superpremium quality classification. So when thinking about exploring Puerto Rico's food and beverage offerings, remember the coffee.
Experiencing the Coffee of Puerto Rico: Hacienda ToursThe best ways to relish Puerto Rican coffee, both as a commodity and a staple of the Island's history, involve hands-on activities such as hacienda tours, Haciendas can be found in the towns of Adjuntas, Jayuya, Las Marias, Lares, Maricao, Ponce and San Sebastián, among others. Given these cities' locations and the fact that it takes roughly two hours to reach them from San Juan, visiting a hacienda generally requires a full day trip. The trip will be a shorter if you make Ponce Puerto Rico your home base. Select haciendas include:
Hacienda Pomarrosa This Ponce hacienda offers tours by appointment only that generally last two hours. Average cost is around $15 per person. Should visitors want to stay overnight, Hacienda Pomarrosa has two cottages available for nightly rentals. Hacienda Buena Vista. Also in Ponce Hacienda Buena Vista stands out as a restored mid-19th century hacienda and former coffee plantation owned by the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust. The 87-acre property once produced 10,000 pounds of coffee per year. Hacienda Monte Alto This eco-friendly plantation in Adjuntas, offers a free tour that takes visitors from field to production facilities and roasting facilities, ending in a tasting room for fresh, local samples. Specialties include the exclusive "Aroma del Cielo" and the blended "Café Monte Riqueño." Café Hacienda San Pedro in the Coabey area of Jayuya, offers two tours on Saturdays and Sundays only. Here, guests can tour the fields and the production areas, or stick strictly to the production process. Reservations are required. Hacienda Café Lucero. Located in the San Patricio neighborhood of Ponce, this hacienda offers tours by appointment for groups of 10 or more. The plantation tours start at $18.95 without lunch or $25 with lunch and include a cup of coffee made from the hacienda's 100 percent Arabica beans. Hacienda El Jibarito Hotel In the San Sebastian mountains, this hacienda is more a destination than a coffee tour, but they grow their own coffee and you can watch them roast (and grind) the beans in their cafe. And, of course, enjoy their excellent "home" grown beans. Tour companies will also help travelers acquire more knowledge with an expert on coffee. Acampa for example, whisks coffee lovers west to Ciales and the hacienda called Pichi, where the third generation of Puerto Rican coffee roasters provides a specialty cupping – an educational and coffee tasting experience.
Coffee is Their Specialty: Cafes in San JuanCafé Cuatro Sombras offers a casual experience with outdoor seating. Located at 259 Recinto Sur in Old San Juan, Cuatro Sombas specializes in roasting the 100% Arabica beans from the mountains of Yauco while using advanced technology to maximize the taste for patrons. All beans are handpicked in their ripest state, processed the same day, sun dried and stored in a climate controlled bodega until it is ready to be classified by size and density. Caficultura, located at 401 San Francisco Street in Old San Juan Coffee, provides outdoor seating and an extensive shop where professional baristas present their creations made with local coffee. Finca Cialitos, located on San Justo Street in Old San Juan, serves authentic, mouth-watering coffee harvested at owner Joaquín Pastor González’s 60+ year-old family farm. Café Hacienda San Pedro, the plantation's retail shop located at 318 Avenue de Diego in San Juan, roasts its coffee in-house. Step onto the outdoor patio and and enjoy a cup of velvety smooth coffee and a scrumptious pastry. Last, if simply walking around any town throughout the Island, most local bakeries serve high quality, local coffee. Guests can order in any number of ways, including a pocillo, cortadito, café con leche or simply a steaming black cup of coffee.
Coffee FestivalsExperience Puerto Rican coffee by attending annual coffee festivals such as Maricao's La Fiesta del Acabe del Café (mid February) or Yauco's Festival del Café (late February) or indulging in the annual Saborea Food Festival, typically held in late-April.
Based on information provided in part by Puerto Rico Tourism Company. Learn more about Visiting Puerto Rico