Coffee is so popular in Puerto Rico that it’s practically considered “a basic need like water, milk, and bread”. That’s no joke! Puerto Rico is a very welcoming country. It only fits that coffee is a part of the warm hospitality. Coffee is a great thing to sip while talking with others.
Note: Take a look at our Definitive Guide to Spanish Coffee to see variations of coffee that are similar to the cortadito and café con leche served in Puerto Rico.
While Americans love a variety of drinks, Puerto Rican coffee options tend to be a bit more straightforward—which might be better. Espresso, Cortadito, and café con leche three of the most popular options. None of those are too different from each other, each just differing in the amount of milk. It is easy to enjoy coffee by itself when the coffee being produced in Puerto Rico is outstanding. A huge thank you to the island itself.
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Growing Conditions in Puerto Rico
A long time ago, Puerto Rico was the place to grow coffee. Eventually, exportation rates went down overall, but it is still America’s leading coffee producer (yes, Puerto Rico is still a territory of the United States). Competing with larger countries with a lot more room to grow coffee became a hard feat for some time. It took this long lull for the coffee industry in Puerto Rico to realize its potential. This leads to improved quality and other positive changes in the industry. As of 2014, Puerto Rico produced 10 million pounds of coffee. This does not put Puerto Rico in the Top 10 Coffee Producing Countries. It does help Puerto Rico maintain a strong reputation in the coffee industry.
Puerto Rico is mostly tropical, with mountains covering most of the inland of its island. Those mountains, with their higher altitudes, aid in making better coffee. Elena Biamon, the owner of her farm Finca Gripiñas, uses the mountains to her advantage. The elevation put her farm at 2,000 feet elevation, meaning a view with a purpose! The shade provided by the trees on the mountain creates perfect conditions for growing specialty coffee, as she told NPR.
Puerto Rico is home to the rich volcanic soil, an ideal altitude, and a warm climate. Given the mountainous terrain of Puerto Rico, plus the moisture and rich soil that comes with being in the tropics, it only makes sense that the government wants to encourage a souring coffee industry. It means more exports and jobs, all while enriching the coffee culture surrounding it all. Given the incentives coming from the government, plus the fantastic specialty coffee coming from the land, we see big things coming from Puerto Rico in the near future!
Puerto Rican Coffee Brands
Café Rico, Café Crema, and Yaucano are some of the leading exporters of coffee from Puerto Rico. Luckily that means that it is easy to get your hands on the outside of the island! Puerto Rico has even more brands to offer on top of that, most of which are on the cheaper end of coffee offerings.
Founded in 1924, this brand has seen the ups and downs of the Puerto Rican coffee industry. They take pride in providing bold flavor in everything from their regular coffee to their espresso to their instant coffee.
A traditional, simple, and delicious option. Founded by husband and wife duo Don José “Pepe” Garrido Morales and Matilde Alonso in 1925, this coffee has seen it all. It provides a balanced acidity and creamy flavors.
“El Mejor café” means “the best coffee,” so this Puerto Rican coffee brand knew what they meant when they decide to put that on every bag of theirs. They offer a variety of sizes as both full bean and ground coffee.
Yauco is the home of his farm, a town located in Southwest Puerto Rico. Their Caffetero Specialty Coffee has notes of “deep chocolate, bread crust, and toasted hazelnut flavors.” This is one of their most popular products. If you find yourself in Puerto Rico looking to more of the coffee culture there, you can also take a barista class or coffee tasting with them!
If you ever find yourself in a grocery store in Puerto Rico, look for Café Rioja. The coffee has its roots in grocery stores as the founder owned one and found his passion for roasting and grinding them in his store in the 40s. A full city roast that is not to be missed. Check out the Cafe Rioja selection out here!
Two farms, Hacienda San Pedro and Hacienda Santa Ana, bring us a coffee brand that wants to bring a consistently fantastic cup of coffee. They grow their arabica beans in high altitudes, which is an ideal condition for the high-quality bean. Read more about arabica beans here!
Looking for a coffee-related gift for a baseball lover? This brand has you covered. Baseball Hall of Famer Iván “Pudge” Rodriguez took his love for coffee to an extreme by creating his brand. He put as much passion for his coffee as he did his sport because this brand is a quality one.
Consider checking out these brands as a way to support small businesses all around the world—now, it is just a matter of choosing which brand you want to try first. Also, take a look at the brands sold in your local coffee shops; They may be roasted and sold locally, but the beans could be from Puerto Rico!
Thank you for reading our guide to Puerto Rican coffee! There is a lot to be said about Puerto Rican coffee, but we think we gave a good look into all that it has to offer.
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We’ll brew ya later! ☕️