Experiencing the Coffee of Puerto Rico: Hacienda Tours

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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.

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. Grown and harvested in the center region of the Island, locals enjoy this local product in pocillo (espresso),cortadito (espresso with steamed milk) or cafe con leche (a latte). Island visitors can not only do the same, but can also partake in unique and captivating tours of local coffee plantations.

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.

The 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 Sebastian, 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. Although several offer lodging, it should be noted that these are generally rustic and offer limited amenities. However, their coffee is heavenly. An excellent alternative is to make Ponce Puerto Rico your home base.

Coffee Haciendas and Tours

Hacienda Buena Vista

Located 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 Pomarrosa

Conveniently located in Ponce Hacienda Pomarrosa offers tours by appointment only that generally last two hours.

Cafe Hacienda San Pedro

In the Coabey area of Jayuya Cafe Hacienda San Pedro 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 Monte Alto

Hacienda Monte Alto is an eco-friendly plantation in Adjuntas that offers a 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 "Cafe Monte Riqueno."

Hacienda El Jibarito Hotel

In the San Sebastian mountains, Hacienda El Jibarito Hotel 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.

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Updated: January 22, 2017

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