Best Puerto Rican Coffee Bean Brands – Reviews and Guide
Once a coffee-growing powerhouse, Puerto Rico is just re-entering the coffee production business.
What does that mean for you?
It means you have a unique opportunity to discover high-end specialty beans before their prices skyrocket. Keep reading for six Puerto Rico coffee brands our experts believe could be the next big thing.
At A Glance:
How to Choose the Best Puerto Rican Coffee Brands
Is Puerto Rico well-known for coffee? Oh, yes! After some difficult years, Puerto Rico’s coffee industry is reemerging to take its rightful place among the best tasting coffee beans on the planet.
We’ve put together a few helpful guidelines for choosing the best coffee brand from Puerto Rico according to your preference.
The Flavors of the Islands
Puerto Ricans love coffee. As they explain it themselves:
Coffee in our culture is considered one of the basic needs at the level of water, milk and bread.
In fact, a big challenge for exporters is just having enough supply to exceed local demand (1).
Puerto Rico is a small island, so much of the coffee is grown in similar conditions.
You’ll find some characteristics common to all Puerto Rican brands.
The coffee tends to be smooth and full-bodied, with naturally low acidity. The main flavor is chocolate, usually with an accompanying sweetness like honey or caramel.
Given that, the major differences between brands come from the processing methods and the roast.
Any Roast Can Be Right.
The best level of roasting of Puerto Rican beans is the one that tastes best to you.
- Darker roasts have less flavor of the bean itself and more from the roasting process. Expect flavors like bittersweet chocolate and toasted nuts.
- With medium roasts, you’ll taste more of the coffee bean itself. Expect flavors like milk chocolate, honey sweetness, or ripe fruit.
- Light roasts allow you to really taste the complex and subtle flavors of the coffee bean, highlighting acidity.
Because Puerto Rican beans are naturally mild, smooth, and low in acid, medium to dark roasts are most common.
Opt for Whole Beans If You Can.
As with any coffee beans, we recommend that you BUY WHOLE BEANS and grind them just before brewing your coffee. This ensures the freshest tasting and most flavorful cup.
That said, if you don’t have a grinder at home, it’s okay to buy pre-ground coffee. The important thing is to buy the correct grind size for your brewing method. Espresso requires a much finer grind than drip coffee.
Certifications Are Few and Far Between
Puerto Rico is just re-emerging into the international coffee scene, so not many brands have recognized certifications like organic, Kosher, Fair Trade, and Rainforest Alliance (2).
Don’t let this dissuade you from trying Puerto Rican coffee!
In many cases, small farmers are using sustainable practices; they just lack the infrastructure for certification. If it’s important to you, research the coffee estates themselves, rather than relying on labels.
The 6 Best Puerto Rican Coffee Beans in 2020
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We’ve been tasting so much Puerto Rican coffee we’re about to vibrate right out of our chairs. But all for a good cause.
Here are six brands guaranteed to deliver a taste of the tropics.
Volcanica Coffee has made its name by sourcing coffee from the world’s well-known volcanic, coffee-growing regions. Why volcanic regions? Because volcanoes have the perfect combination of mineral-rich soil, excellent drainage, and high elevation to grow the best coffee beans. Just look at the popularity of Brazilian coffee, Peruvian coffee, and coffee beans from Costa Rica.
Our top pick from the island this year is Volcanica’s Puerto Rican single-origin 100% Arabica beans. It’s sourced from a single estate, the Cafe Chevere, in the Ciales Mountain region, where it’s grown at an altitude of about 2600 feet.
This region once produced world-famous coffee, but fewer and fewer were exported as coffee production dropped off.
Now we are lucky to be able to sample these high-quality coffee beans once again.
The Volcanica is a medium roasted coffee, which nicely balances the beans’ winey acidity with a hint of toasted flavor. The main taste is chocolate, but it’s underscored with rich notes of red fruit.
Yaucono is one of the largest coffee roasters on the island and one of the few that continued to thrive even as the industry declined. Fans say it is a testament to its unbeatable flavor.
Yaucono is a very mild, easy-drinking coffee, which is neither acidic nor bitter. It’s smooth and balanced, with just a hint of chocolate and a serious jolt of caffeine.
It’s the preferred coffee of island-dwellers themselves, so it offers a true taste of the region. Puerto Ricans usually enjoy it as an espresso or mixed with a little steamed milk and a hint of cinnamon.
Fantastic flavor, plus a SUPER-FINE PRICE? You can’t go wrong with this choice. (Just saying.)
If you like to feel like royalty in the morning, check out Alto Grande Super Premium. They’ve dubbed themselves the “Coffee of Popes and Kings.” As the story goes, Hacienda Alto Grande has been growing coffee since 1839, and in the early years, it was exported to the courts of Europe and the Vatican.
Islanders consider Alto Grande to be a high-end coffee, the sort you might be served in a fancy restaurant. It has a delicate chocolate flavor, with a sweet and exotic aroma that really evokes a tropical island feel.
Compared with most Puerto Rican beans, Alto Grande coffee is grown at a higher elevation, so the beans are better quality. Each of the Arabica trees on the farm produces only a pound of beans per year, so supply is always LIMITED.
If you want to try Alto Grande Super Premium, a coffee fit for a king, act fast!
If you like your coffee to have a rich, bold flavor, Cafe de Oro, which translates to Coffee of Gold, is going to be right up your alley.
The 100% Arabica beans are grown in the mountains of the Lares region, then dark roasted. The resulting beans have a strong and smooth flavor that isn’t bitter or acidic. You’ll taste bittersweet chocolate with an underlying hint of caramel sweetness.
This is an excellent choice for those who like to drink their coffee black, as the natural sweetness requires no added sugars.
It also makes a GOLD-MEDAL ESPRESSO.
Cafe Di Laris is Puerto Rico’s first certified Kosher coffee brand, meaning it was processed and roasted without any additives.
The 100% Arabica coffee is grown in the mountainous Lares region of Puerto Rico. The beans are sun-dried, then processed using only water before being roasted to a perfect medium-dark.
The natural drying process gives them a sweeter, fruitier taste than other Puerto Rican coffee brands. If you’re a fan of naturally processed Ethiopian beans, you’ll note some similarities here.
If you want a dash of philanthropy with your morning java, check out Julian Coffee. They’re working to reignite Puerto Rico’s coffee industry after decades of neglect and devastating hurricanes (3).
Coffee is the best crop we produce, but due to the bad weather people have left it.
Producing coffee under such circumstances truly is a fight against the odds. But choosing to do it sustainably is PRAISE-WORTHY.
Julian Coffee uses only premium single-origin, organic coffee beans, shade-grown on a small family estate nestled in the mountains of Adjuntas. Each coffee cherry is hand-picked for the best quality.
The result is a full-bodied and low-acid coffee, with a rich chocolate flavor and hints of caramel. It’s exceptionally smooth, and we love it for cold brew.
Puerto Rican coffee is finally back on the market. So this is a great time to sample these once world-famous coffees.
For a nicely balanced medium roast that really gives you a feel for the island’s flavors, we recommend Volcanica Coffee’s Puerto Rico beans.
Puerto Ricans drink coffee as espresso more often than they make drip coffee. Often they’ll add steamed milk, either a small amount for a cortadito or enough to make a latte. Sometimes a sprinkle of cinnamon is added as well. Because Puerto Rican coffee is naturally sweet, they rarely add sugar.
Coffee from Puerto Rico is mostly Arabica, which grows well in Puerto Rico’s mountainous terrain. The most common varietals are Bourbon, Caturra, and Limon. Lately, a few farmers have been experimenting with growing high-end Robusta beans.
It is challenging to grow coffee in Puerto Rico for two reasons. First, climate change is leading to a greater number of storms in the area, including severe hurricanes that destroy crops. Second, on the coffee production side, it can be difficult to find laborers willing to pick the coffee for low wages.
- Sheffield, P. (2018, July 30). Caffeine Culture: The History of Coffee in Puerto Rico. Retrieved from https://passionpassport.com/puerto-rico-coffee-guide/
- Bradley, E. (2017, August 10). Coffee Certifications. Retrieved from https://www.freshcup.com/coffee-certifications/
- Puerto Rico bets on a coffee comeback. (2018, September 19). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45552959