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All About Coffee in Puerto Rico

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An Introduction to Puerto Rican Coffee:

It may not be as famous as its Colombian cousin, but Puerto Rico has enjoyed a long association with coffee. The bean came to the island in the 1700s and quickly became its principal export. It also gave rise to a agrarian mountainfolk who have become romantic symbols of working class Puerto Ricans: the Jíbaros.

The jíbaros were country folk who worked the coffee plantations for the wealthy hacendados, or landowners. They were little better off than indentured servants, and since they were uneducated, their most lasting form of expression came through music; the songs of the Jíbaros have endured over time.

Is the Local Coffee Any Good?:

The answer is a resounding yes! The rich volcanic soil and climate of Puerto Rico's interior proved the perfect place to grow coffee. The city of Yauco, tucked in among the mountains, is famed for its coffee and is known as El Pueblo del Café, or "The City of Coffee." The Café Yauco Selecto brand is among the best known premium blends the island has to offer. Another brand, Alto Grande, is of superpremium quality; that is, it's the highest quality coffee you can buy. Alto Grande is one of only one three coffees to carry this label.

How Puerto Ricans Take Their Coffee:

Generally, there are three ways to order your coffee (Café Americano is a fourth, but it is hardly the favorite):
  • An Expreso is your standard Italian espresso, brewed in an espresso machine and usually taken black. A local term for expreso is pocillo, which is a reference to the small cups in which the drink is served.
  • My favorite is the Cortadito, which anyone familiar with Cuban coffee will know. This is an expresso layered with a thin sheen of steamed milk.
  • Café con leche is like a latté, but in Puerto Rico it usually involves a large dollop of milk in an even larger cup.

Can I Visit a Coffee Plantation:

You may indeed. Several tour companies offer tours to coffee plantations, which are fun trips in Puerto Rico's interior. Acampa, Countryside Tours and Legends of Puerto Rico all offer them.

As for which ones to visit, the following all offer tours and welcome visitors (but call ahead before you go):

  • Café Bello in Adjuntas
  • Café Hacienda San Pedro in Jayuya
  • Café Lareño in Lares (787-897-3643)
  • Hacienda Ana in Jayuya (787-378-7551)
  • Hacienda Buena Vista in Ponce (787-722-5882 Monday-Friday, 787-284-7020 on weekends)
  • Hacienda Palma Escrita/La Casona in Las Marías (787-210-8252)
  • Hacienda Patricia in Ponce (787-813-1878)
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