Puerto Rico has a long history of coffee production, and we would love to offer this coffee as it is “grown in the USA”, a distinction that groups it only with Hawaiian coffee, and some experiments in California. We offered the famed Yauco Selecto coffee back in the day.
But for us, Puerto RicoPuerto Rican coffee has the typical”island profile”. These coffees, which include Jamaica and Kona, have a soft cup, not acidic, balanced, and mild. : I have tried other… …more has been a tough coffee originIn coffee talk, it refers to a coffee-producing region or country; such as, “I was just at origin.” Of course “Origin” for most product we use is not… …more to offer in recent years. With increased awareness about the effect of low altitude production on coffee, the need for a lot of human labor to hand pick and sort coffee to create truly great lots, and changing weather patterns…well, everything is stacked against Puerto Rico. Some of the issues might be addressed, but come with costs. Others are global problems, such as a warming climate and its impact on tropical zones (see the scenario maps for Puerto Rico’s coffee future below).
We currently have no coffee from Puerto Rico to offer, since none has passed muster on the cuppingCupping is a method of tasting coffee by steeping grounds in separate cups for discrete amounts of ground coffee, to reveal good flavors and defects to their fullest…. …more table. Sadly we can’t see this changing in the near future, but since we have offered Puerto Rico coffee in the past, we want to share our experience with it.
Puerto Rico has been a tough coffee origin in recent years. With increased awareness about the effect of low altitude production on coffee, the need for a lot of human labor to hand pick and sort coffee to create truly great lots, and changing weather patterns…well, everything is stacked against Puerto Rico. They don’t have the access to labor, they don’t have the altitude compared to other coffee lands, the picking and preparationPreparation refers to the dry-milling steps of preparing coffee for export: hulling, grading, classifying, sorting.: Preparation refers to the dry-milling steps of preparing coffee for export: hulling, grading,… …more have been poor, and all of this shows in the cup.
When it is good, to describe the Puerto Rican coffee flavor it is best to think about the general term “island profile.” These coffees, which include JamaicaJamaica coffee can be excellent mild, lush coffee… sometimes. Like Kona and Puerto Rican coffee, it is soft, mild, clean and well balanced when it is good.: Ah… …more as an example have a soft cup, not acidic, balanced, and mild. They are approachable coffees and all happen to be quite expensive.
When it is not good, Puerto Rican coffee is usually impacted by premature aging from humid storageGreen coffee can be stored much longer than roasted coffee: Roasted coffee starts to lose its aromatics in 10 days after roasting. Green coffee can be stored months… …more conditions. But the issues could stem to the selection or post harvest processingThe removal of the cherry and parchment from the coffee seed.: Coffee is either wet-processed (also called washed or wet-milled) or dry-processed (also called wild, natural or natural… …more too: At times, the selection of coffee cherryOriginally coffee literature referred to the fruit of the tree as a “berry” but in time it became a cherry. It is of course neither. Nor is the… …more can be quite poor due to harvest conditions and labor availability. To produce clean and defect-free coffee flavors in the cup, one of the requirements is selection of ripe coffee cherryEither a flavor in the coffee, or referring to the fruit of the coffee tree, which somewhat resembles a red cherry.: Either a flavor in the coffee, or… …more only. Green unripe cherries make for astringentAstringency is a harsh flavor sensation, acrid flavor, that provokes a physical reaction on the toungue, the tactile feeling of papery dryness. It can have saltiness, sourness and… …more and harsh flavors in the cup, while over-ripe produce fermentedAs a defect flavor, a fruit quality in a coffee that is excessively ripe, toward rotten. Fermented flavor can be the result of poor wet-processing, over-ripe cherry, or… …more wine-to-vinegar notes.
It’s good to be aware of the fact that higher priced coffees don’t necessarily have a “better” cup, but rather that price is determined by the cost of production, and limited availability. Remember that this is a coffee grown in the U.S. so production costs are higher. We would love to support coffee production in PR because it is from the US, but can’t do it solely because of that factor, and particularly because we find it does not pass our minimum expectations on the cupping table.
Puerto Rico has a well-developed coffee tradition. The history of coffee is closely tied to the history of this Caribbean island. First brought in 1736, the Spanish immigrants who settled on the island relegated coffee to a secondary role for the most part of the 18th century. At the time, the fertile valleys were their main concern was sugar cane.
During the early part of the 19th century, events in Europe forced a migration of residents from the Mediterranean island of Corsica. They arrived to Puerto Rico and were quickly told that if they wanted to farm, they would have to go to the highlands because all the valleys were taken by the Spanish. They settled in the Southwestern Mountains of the island, mostly around a town called Yauco.
Their work and determination was rewarded when they entertained the idea of growing coffee in these mountains. By the 1860s they dominated the coffee industry on the island. Two devastating hurricanes hit Puerto Rico during 1898. The hurricanes destroyed the coffee industry. Farmers needed to wait two years to begin seeing the crop return to its normal level. During this time, it was evident that the United States was interested in Puerto Rico (along with Cuba and the Philippines) for its sugar production.
Tariffs gave coffee in Puerto Rico a severe blow as European nations no longer allowed Puerto Rican coffee to come in as a product. At the same time, BrazilBrazil is a coffee giant . As Frank Sinatra sang, “they grow an awful lot of coffee in Brazil”.: Brazil is a coffee giant . As Frank Sinatra… …more was providing the bulk of the coffee for the United States. The result was an increasingly diminished role of coffee on the island.