Museum of Coffee in Ciales
For more than 275 years, the haciendas throughout the cool mountain regions of Puerto Rico have been growing coffee. It was once one of the largest crops in production on the island. Harvesting the coffee beans is hard work and, with modernization, fewer and fewer people want to work the fields. While there are still some large coffee farms, many of the old coffee haciendas are gone.
The Museum of Coffee in Ciales is a place where you can explore some of the history of coffee, and to experience some of the best coffee available in Puerto Rico today.
At times, it feels like Ray and I are the only non-coffee drinkers in Puerto Rico, but we still like to check out coffee-related attractions around the island.
The Museum of Coffee (or Museo del Café) is located in Ciales, a small town mountain town about one hour from San Juan. Ciales has been a coffee town for centuries, and is still home to a few large plantations.
The Museum of Coffee is owned/operated by Pichy Maldonado, whose family has been growing coffee at their farms since 1933. He personally gives the tours through the museum, proudly explaining the coffee-related objects he has collected throughout the years. And no visit would be complete without trying some freshly roasted local coffee. If you want to buy some coffee to bring home, they will roast the green beans (many varieties, from all over the world) fresh for you on the spot.
While researching this trip, I wasn’t able to find too much specific information. So we hopped in the car and headed to Ciales mid-week to see what we could find.
The museum, called Paseo Aroma de Café, is tucked down a little alley, just to the side of the Mercado. In actuality, we just had to follow our noses — they were just finishing up roasting some coffee for a customer.
Unfortunately, we had not called ahead, so no one was available to give us a tour. However, we were welcomed to come in and look around the museum on our own, and to enjoy some coffee at the counter.
The museum is dedicated to the history of coffee in Puerto Rico. It is an old building, and the museum is nothing fancy, with uneven floors and stuff stored in the back. The front room is where the coffee roaster and coffee shop are located. It has a number of photos and historical information about some of the old local plantations.
The next few rooms had lots of other documents, and the old name stencils used on the burlap bags. It had old scales, coffee grinders, and coffee makers. There is a huge modern coffee machine, used during some stage of bean processing, and there was also a large old wooden machine, used to separate the beans from the fruit.
It was interesting to see, but I am sure it would have been much more educational/enjoyable with someone to explain stuff to us!
The coffee shop offers fresh Don Pello Coffee by the cup. It also has a selection of green beans, and they will roast your choice (to your desired roast preference) right on the spot.
Guided tour of the museum is $1 per person.
They are open Tuesday to Friday from 8am to 3pm, Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 5pm. Tours are usually offered on the weekend. Call to check availability of a guide for the museum.
You can call them at 787-871-3439 for more information.
From Route 22, take exit #48 to Route 149 south straight into Ciales.
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