Most of us don’t consider Puerto Rico to be one of the top coffee-producing countries in the world. But once upon a time, it was at the top of that list. Unfortunately, Puerto Rico currently doesn’t even make it into the top 50 coffee exporting nations. The good news is that Puerto Rican coffee is slowly making a comeback as a specialty coffee around the world. This means most of us will have a better chance of experiencing the deep and complex flavors of Puerto Rican coffee once again.
The coffee beans from Puerto Rico have a smooth, mellow flavor with low acidity. The coffee bean is often roasted to a medium or dark roast, yet the acidity level is still low, making it easy to drink.
Let’s dive into why it’s considered so precious and why we should crave Puerto Rican coffee.
History Of Puerto Rican Coffee
Puerto Rican coffee has over 200 years of history and reputation. Historians believe that coffee was first brought to the island in 1736 by the Spaniards. And the reason is its mountainous terrain and volcanic soil, which are ideal for coffee plant harvesting.
Another school of historians believes that coffee (Arabica beans) arrived with a Corsican monk who immigrated to Puerto Rico in the late 1700s.
Regardless of its origin stories, the first batch of coffee beans was sown in Puerto Rico by the end of the 18th century. It immediately became the staple economic driver for the islanders. The golden age of Puerto Rican coffee met the demands of the Vatican and the popes exclusively. Soon after, its popularity spread to prominent European royal courts and cities, earning it the moniker “coffee of popes and kings”.
Why Puerto Rican Coffee Is So Special?
It all starts with geography. Puerto Rico has a lot to offer for coffee cultivation. Its volcanic soil, altitude, and climate—elements that make incredible Puerto Rican coffee a royalty. The island’s volcanic soil and superior altitude (up to 3,500 feet above sea level), combined with natural shading, bring nothing but extraordinary flavors.
The farmers and haciendas follow the all-natural process of gathering and roasting their coffee beans as well. As a result, the beans get to bring out the specific attributes of the coffee while maintaining its high-quality aromas and taste notes.
Puerto Rican coffee beans are 100% Arabica. It means that the flavors are distinct from those of other coffee beans from around the world. Puerto Rican beans are way sweeter and smoother than the other Arabica types.
Puerto Rican coffee beans have unique sweet nuances that only underline the chocolatey undertones and bold dry fruit notes. Once brewed, it carries hints of almond, plum, and other nuts, while the predominant flavor will always be chocolatey.
The body of the coffee feels astoundingly rich and supple. The acidic notes provide subtle hints of citrus without any bitterness, of course.
For such characteristics, the gastronomy industry has labeled Puerto Rican coffee gourmet coffee. Both its natural production and flavor profiles have earned its place high in people’s regard.
Authentic Puerto Rican Coffee Culture
Traditionally, Puerto Ricans begin their morning with a cup of strong coffee. It gives them enough energy to fuel a long, hard day. They also end their day with another cup, as per their tradition.
You can find the culture of drinking strong coffee in espresso form as well. In almost every café on this island, you’ll be able to find “Porcillo”—”single espresso” in Spanish. Then there are the local favorites, the “Cortadito”—an espresso with a thin layer of foam—and the “Café con leche”—a latte-like milky cup of coffee.
Unlike many Central American and Caribbean nations, traditional Puerto Rican coffee recipes don’t call for much sweetener as the beans themselves are naturally sweet.
Popular Puerto Rican Coffee Preparations
Café Con Leche
For a cup of café con leche, you’ll need half cups of Puerto Rican ground coffee, fresh cold water, whole milk, and 1 teaspoon of sugar.
First, brew the coffee in your coffee maker.
While the coffee is brewing, add the milk to a saucepan over medium heat. Lightly simmer the milk before turning off the heat.
Fill only half of your coffee cup with freshly brewed coffee. Then add the sugar and pour the warm milk to fill the rest of the cup. Stir the mix with a spoon. Enjoy!
This recipe will only take 9 minutes to complete.
A standard espresso-sized preparation that follows a 1:1 espresso to milk ratio. You’ll need 2 oz. of Puerto Rican ground coffee, 2 oz. of milk, and sugar (2 teaspoons).
Start by brewing the grounds with medium heat. If you’re using an espresso machine, just simply pull a double-shot of espresso.
Next, warm the milk (on a stovetop or in a microwave). Avoid burning and boiling the milk.
Put 2 teaspoons of sugar in a bowl and then add 2 teaspoons of warm espresso there. Whisk the mixture until you get a light brown foamy mixture. That’s the espumita needed for the cortadito.
Once the espresso brewing is done, pour it into an espresso cup first, and then add the warm milk over it. You must maintain a 1:1 ratio between them. Finally, top it off with the espumita and serve!
This recipe will only take 6 minutes to complete.
The Benefits Of Drinking Puerto Rican Coffee
Puerto Rican coffee brands only make Arabica coffee. So, identifying the original Puerto Rican coffee is way easier. Since Puerto Rican coffees are considered gourmet, any imitators won’t be able to copy the true artisan quality of this coffee.
Puerto Rican Arabica beans have a much lower caffeine percentage than the other varieties. As a result, it is healthier than not only Robusta beans but also other Arabica types. So, this coffee is ideal for those who’re in need of stomach-friendly and less aggressive coffee.
Since it has less caffeine content, it’ll offer very little bitterness as well as less intensity. Hence, it’s an ideal coffee for avoiding heartburn.
Since the coffee is also naturally sweet and chocolatey, there’ll be no need for processed sugar or fatty creams with Puerto Rican coffee, which is always a plus for health-conscious drinkers.
Puerto Rico’s soil and nature allow shade-grown, high-altitude Arabica coffee cultivation. These natural conditions, combined with natural processing and drying processes, have made Puerto Rican coffee an ideal candidate for a low-caffeine, low-acidic organic coffee variant.
Puerto Rico’s coffee industry has a long and proud history. But it’s also marked with national and geographical scars. Today, it’s trying to rebuild its lost reputation and we expect the number of gourmet coffees leaving the island will only grow. The coffee hasn’t stepped away from the low acidity and sweet flavors either. That’s why the coffee beans from this island are still viewed as extremely coveted.