Coffees from the Americas : Puerto Rico

In the 19th century Puerto Rico was one of the world’s leading coffee origins. In 1896, for example, the island was the sixth largest coffee producer in the world. But in the 20th century coffee apparently became lost in the complex political and economic shuffle that marked Puerto Rico’s passage from agricultural economy and Spanish colony to developing American commonwealth. In the late 1980s, however, a consortium of farmers led by Harvard-educated marketing expert Jaime Fortuno revived Puerto Rico as a specialty coffee origin.

Puerto Rico Yauco Selecto is produced at elevations above 3,000 feet in the southwestern mountains from trees of the admired bourbon variety and other traditional local Puerto Rican cultivars. At best it is a superb example of the Caribbean taste, soft yet powerful, with a fragrant, fruity sweetness. At this writing Yauco is not what it has been in the recent past, however, with a hard, flavor-dampening edge often insinuating itself into the Caribbean sweetness. Hopefully, quality will pick up again. Other Puerto Rico coffees, including Alto Grande, are only occasionally sold in the American specialty market.