Whether you’re an experienced Puerto Rican coffee drinker or you’re looking to try something new, Puerto Rico’s sweet, smooth coffee is a treat. But how do you find the best coffee beans Puerto Rico has to offer? Finding high-quality beans doesn’t have to be difficult.
To take the guesswork out of your shopping experience, we put together this guide to our six favorite Puerto Rican coffee brands available in 2020. For our in-depth reviews, we compared flavor, aroma, price, roast, and freshness across the brands. We hope you enjoy our ranked list of favorites, and don’t forget to take a look at our quick guide to the best qualities of Puerto Rican beans.
|Alto Grande Premium Coffee|
|Volcanica Puerto Rico ‘Ciales Mountain’||Medium||4.75/5|
|Cafe Yaucono Puerto Rican Coffee |
(Best Ground Coffee)
|Cafe Rico Puerto Rican Coffee||Medium-Dark||4.40/5|
|Cafe Crema Puerto Rican Coffee||Medium||4.20/5|
Our very favorite Puerto Rican beans are Alto Grande’s Premium Coffee in Whole Bean. These reasonably-priced beans have a full chocolate flavor and a sweet, strong aroma. Their roast level is between medium and dark, and the slightly oily beans maintain a lovely, delicate flavor.
Alto Grande is a well-known luxury Puerto Rican brand, so it’s very convenient to be able to buy it through Amazon at a good price. There is a chance that your beans won’t arrive fresh, though, as we did find reports of stale bags.
Another potentially great pick is Volcanica’s ‘Ciales Mountain’ Puerto Rico Coffee. This whole bean, medium roast coffee has good flavor, with hints of chocolate and red fruit, but offers less complexity than Alto Grande’s beans.
Ciales Mountain coffee is single-origin, grown on the Café Chevere estate, which is found at 2,600 feet of elevation in Puerto Rico’s Ciales Mountains. If you don’t love your bag, Volcanica offers a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee and advertises a tight Amazon inventory to ensure freshness.
Unfortunately, because of labor problems in Puerto Rico, this coffee is not always available.
If you prefer not to grind your beans at home, Café Yaucono’s Puerto Rican Ground Coffee is our favorite pre-ground option. These well-priced beans produce full-bodied, smooth, and aromatic coffee with low acidity. Just keep in mind that Puerto Rican roasters grind their beans to an espresso level of fineness.
Café Yaucono’s coffee is strong and smooth, and we found it not bitter at all, despite its dark roast level. Unfortunately, the beans do not always arrive perfectly fresh.
Cafe Rico’s Regular Puerto Rican ground coffee comes in a two-pack of 14-ounce bags. It produces strong, smooth coffee with a medium body and no bitterness.
Cafe Rico’s Puerto Rican coffee is roasted to a medium-dark level. The very fine grind will not suit all brewing methods. This coffee is decently aromatic, though the beans seemed less fresh than their best-by date suggested.
Another ground option is Café Crema’s Puerto Rican Coffee, which comes very finely ground in 14-ounce bags. This cost-effective coffee is medium roast with a smooth and creamy flavor.
Not single-origin, this coffee is a blend of a variety of Puerto Rican beans. Its taste is chocolatey and strong, though it can tend toward burnt and bitter flavors. It is not particularly aromatic and may arrive less than perfectly fresh.
Our last choice is Café Lareno’s Puerto Rican Coffee, which is a more expensive option with bold, though slightly bland, flavor. These pre-ground 12-ounce bags produce smooth, strong coffee with low acidity, but don’t boast very much complexity.
Café Lareno’s coffee is decent and very strong, but we found it to have a distinct burnt flavor. We found a few reports of coffee bags arriving unsealed or stale.
Unless you’ve traveled to Puerto Rico, you may not have gotten to experience its sweet, smooth coffee. So how do you know what to expect? Keep reading to learn all about these delicious beans and how to brew a traditional cup of Puerto Rican café con leche.
Spanish colonists first introduced coffee to Puerto Rico in the eighteenth century. A hundred years later, the small island was one of the world’s largest coffee producers. Since that peak, Puerto Rican coffee production has slowed.
Puerto Rican coffee can be difficult to find for several reasons. The territory consumes about a third of the coffee it produces, and only exports about 1%. In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the territory’s coffee crop, destroying an estimated 85% of the year’s coffee beans and heavily damaging infrastructure. Combined with a lack of available labor, this has resulted in an estimated 50% of Puerto Rico’s current coffee crops going unharvested.
Despite this, Puerto Rican coffee is generally less expensive than coffee from countries like Brazil and Peru. For U.S.-based shoppers, it’s especially low-priced because unlike most coffees, it isn’t an import, and therefore, doesn’t have added tariffs.
Puerto Rican coffee is generally strong, smooth and sweet. Rich, full-bodied, and highly caffeinated, the best beans boast delicious notes of chocolate and caramel. This coffee also has an easy-to-drink low level of acidity, which is great if you experience stomachaches or headaches from the acid in coffee.
Situated comfortably inside the “Bean Belt,” which is the section of the world where coffee grows, Puerto Rico has an ideal climate for coffee crops. Most Puerto Rican coffee is grown in fertile volcanic soil at an altitude between 2,000 and 3,000 feet. The territory’s major coffee-producing regions are San Sebastián, Lares, and Las Marías.
Oxygen and time are the main enemies of coffee flavor. As soon as they’re roasted, coffee beans begin to lose flavor as they react with oxygen. One way to slow this process down is to purchase whole beans, which oxidize more slowly. For the freshest flavor, you may want to grind your beans just before brewing.
If you prefer the convenience of pre-ground coffee, many Puerto Rican coffee companies export already ground beans. Keep in mind that coffee ground in Puerto Rico will be a fine, espresso-style grind. If you use a different brewing method, like a drip machine or a French press, you may need to buy whole beans and grind your own.
Buying Puerto Rican beans isn’t all you need to do to make your coffee Puerto Rican-style. Traditional Puerto Rican coffee, called café con leche, is made by boiling very finely ground coffee in water. Use one heaping tablespoon of ground coffee per cup of water.
Once the coffee is boiled, it’s typically poured through a “colador,” a traditional Puerto Rican coffee filter. A colador is a triangle-shaped tightly-woven cloth filter held up by a wood handle. If you don’t have one, you can use any paper or cloth filter.
The real key to Puerto Rican coffee comes at the end. To finish it off and make it a true café con leche, which translates as “coffee with milk,” Puerto Ricans add lots of milk and sugar. A classic recipe is half coffee, half milk, and plenty of sugar to taste.
The results are in! Our favorite Puerto Rican coffee is Alto Grande’s Premium Whole Bean Coffee. Rich, chocolatey, and smooth, these beans could be your new favorite. If you prefer not to grind your beans, you may want to give Café Yaucono’s Puerto Rican Ground Coffee a try. This delicious coffee is well-priced, full-bodied, and wonderfully aromatic.
If you’re looking to brew a great cup of Puerto Rican coffee, there are a lot of great brands on the market. We hope that our detailed reviews of the six best Puerto Rican coffees of 2020 help you quickly and easily find delicious beans. With so many great options out there, you’re well on your way to your next great cup of coffee.
By Kate MacDonnell
Featured image credit: 12019, Pixabay
Table of Contents
What’s the Best Kind of Water for Coffee? (It Makes a BIG Difference!)
3 Tips & Tricks For Switching To Black Coffee
32 Great Gifts for Coffee Lovers (Updated in 2020)
7 Gift Basket Ideas for the Coffee Lover
How to Reduce Bitterness in Your Coffee