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Puerto Rican Coffee – From Bush to Bag to Cup

Posted on Apr 24th, 2011 by • Updated on Aug 16th, 2014

Puerto Rican Coffee Tours

Here is another tidbit about us … we don’t drink coffee. But, this doesn’t stop us from growing some coffee bushes on our property and being interested in coffee production on the island. I have long been meaning to visit a working coffee plantation (usually called a Hacienda) but kind of felt odd about it, since we don’t drink coffee.

As luck would have it, my brother and sister-in-law enjoy coffee. So we took the day during their recent visit and did a tour of Hacienda Pomarrosa. It was educational and (so they tell me) very delicious!

As it turns out, the best Puerto Rican coffee comes from ripe beans grown high in the cool, moist mountain regions of the Toro Negro mountain range, toward the west. There are a number of coffee Haciendas in the towns of Jayuya, San Sebastian, Ponce, Adjuntas, Las Marias and Lares. It takes over 2 hours to drive to many of these places from the San Juan area, on some twisting, curving roads. So take your time, and plan on it being a full-day trip, or maybe even plan on an overnight stay in the area.

Most of larger coffee plantations are not open to the public, but some of the smaller, specialty/gourmet places are open for tours, and purchases. Our tour at the small, gourmet coffee plantation Hacienda Pomarrosa ( or Golden Roseapple Farm) was conducted by the owner, Kurt Legner. I will pass on some of the information we learned about coffee and then tell you about our tour.

Some History of Coffee (Around the World & in Puerto Rico)

Coffee is originally from Ethiopa (Africa). It was spread from that region by the Moors. Coffee was eventually brought to Puerto Rico in 1736, along with the slave labor required to work the fields. It was not a highly popular crop, and a number of hardships (both natural and man-made) made other crops more profitable. Over time, the quality of coffee became better and the world’s taste changed, making coffee a desirable crop.

Puerto Rican Coffee Tours

Puerto Rico’s coffee production became a major economic boom for the island. But, mountain life was hard, picking the coffee is hard work, and jobs were easier in the cities. In more recent history, Puerto Rican businesses had to follow labor laws, and growing coffee became less profitable.

Today, much of the coffee crop goes unpicked because there are not enough workers willing to work in the fields. The island’s demand for coffee currently exceeds its production, which requires the importation of coffee beans (and, enevitably, coffee pests). These new pests are further reducing the production of coffee on the island.

Our Tour at Hacienda Pomarrosa

The tour started with a nice cup of coffee and some homemade banana bread in the outdoor gazebo. While we munched on the goodies, Kurt gave us the history of coffee, how he came to grow it as a business, and his take on current state of coffee production in Puerto Rico. Once we were ready, we headed to the fields (just a short walk).

Currently, he has about 3 acres of Arabica coffee plants in production and hopes to expand. He showed us fruit on the plants that were green (unripe) and red (ripe). He told us about the coffee borer, an insect that ruins the beans and how they are trying to control it. He discussed how difficult it is to hand pick the coffee (it grows on steep muddy hills and the bags weigh a lot). In Puerto Rico, the farms are required to pay at least minimum wage (which makes it hard to find workers, and cuts into the bottom line).

Puerto Rican Coffee Tours

After the fields, we headed to the production area. The first stop was the separating area, where they separating the ripe from the unripe fruit, and pick out any debris. He can sell the unripe and imperfect fruit to the other coffee brands, who allow a large percentage of unripe beans in their products.

The red (ripe) fruits are then sent down the water shoot to the machine that removes the fruit from the bean. Then the beans are dried to specific humidity in a series of machines. Next, they are hulled (removing the bean from a natural coating).

At this point in the process, they are called "green coffee beans", and they can be stored in this state until they are needed. When an order comes in, they roast the beans, and then pack them right away.

Puerto Rican Coffee Tours

After our tour of the production area, we headed back to the gazebo. Kurt made some expresso, and we sat and enjoyed the coffee, company, and cool weather.

NOTE: As it turns out, the best time to go on a coffee tour is during harvesting/processing time (which is October to December). During that time, you can see the whole production process from field to roaster. We went in April, so the bushes were just in flower, but Kurt took us around everywhere, and showed us all the equipment and the beans they had in the last stages of production.

Some Info About "Puerto Rican" Coffee

For years, I have been sending coffee to a friend in the States who loves Puerto Rican coffee (cafe). About 2 years ago, the brand she liked disappeared from store shelves and, after trying other brands, she told me she didn’t like the taste. I was wondering what happened.

Puerto Rican Coffee Tours

It turns out that CC1 Limited Partnership, the parent company of Puerto Rico Coca-Cola Bottlers, purchased about 80% of the island’s coffee market. They produce most of the island’s various brands of "Puerto Rican" coffee, under the Puerto Rico Coffee Roasters LLC name.

Since Puerto Rico’s coffee demand exceeds local production, most of the beans that go into the regular brands of "Puerto Rican" coffee beans are imported from other countries to be blended with a certain percentage of Puerto Rican beans. Check the label before you buy the regular grade coffee products— unless it says 100% Puerto Rican coffee beans, it most probably isn’t 100% locally grown coffee.

I spent time at a couple supermarkets reading coffee bags. Many bags say 100% Pure or Hecho en Puerto Rico, but don’t be fooled. It seems that you need to do some work to get real Puerto Rican coffee — either go to a specialty store or a coffee Hacienda and purchase the gourmet coffees. Or, at least, really study the labels in the supermarket. There are still a few local growers (some have formed a co-op) that produce regular grade (but still tasty) 100% Puerto Rican coffee such as Cafe Cibales and Cafe Mami. The other thing: prices of regular grade coffee are controlled by the government (currently $4.45/lb), so as you pay more, quality (and taste) will go up also.

Coffee Tours

In 2008, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company started promoting a Coffee Zone, where a number of the small gourmet haciendas open their places to the public. It is an effort to promote Agrotourism on the island.

Puerto Rican Coffee Tours

Using the PRTC information, I called each of the Haciendas on the list to find the current (as of April 2011) information about tours. Some are free, some are low-priced, most offer coffee tastings, and all of them really hope you buy some of their coffee.

You need to call first for reservations and to ensure an English-speaking guide. You can drive yourselves, or if you don’t want to brave the roads, there are some tour companies that can make the arrangement and provide transportation.

Hacienda Pomarrosa in Ponce — This is the tour that we did, and we highly recommend it. Tours are by appointment only. $20/person. Allow 2 hours for the tour. They also have 2 cottages on the plantation for nightly rentals. Phone: 787-844-3541 or 787-460-8934 or 787-461-8493. Web: www.cafepomarrosa.com.

Hacienda Buena Vista in Ponce — This restored mid-19th century coffee plantation is owned by the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust. Guided tours are offered in Spanish and English. It’s more of a musuem tour than a "plantation". We visited here years ago, and recommend it. You can read our review for more details and contact info.

Hacienda San Pedro in Jayuya — They offer 2 tours (12n & 2pm), on Sunday only. The tour of the facilities is $10/person and takes about 45 mins. Reservations are required, call Tel. 787-828-2083 Mondays to Fridays from 8:00am to 5:00pm.

Hacienda Palma Escrita in Las Marias — Open for tours Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm. $5/person. 45-minute tour with tasting. They also have a gift shop/store and a cafe (but you need a reservation for lunch). Phone: 787-210-8252

Hacienda Monte Alto in Adjuntas — Offers a free tour from field to machinery and tastings. Phone: 787-829-5353

This next couple of places are not on the Puerto Rico Tourism Company "coffee tour" list, though they offer a tour …

Cafe Gran Batey in Utuado — Tour from bush to bag and then tasting! Free. Reservations not required, but preferred. Tour lasts approx 1-1½ hours. Phone: 787- 636-5442 or 787-608-1246. Web: www.cafegranbatey.com.

Sandra Farms in Adjuntas — Trip to Origin Coffee Tour – From Planation to Cup, $15 per adult, kids 12 and under free. Reservation required. Tour lasts approx 1½ hours. Phone: 787- 409-8083. Web: www.SandraFarms.com.

The next couple places supposedly offer tours or educational areas that are open to the public. I tried contacting them using the information provided by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, but had no luck getting answers via phone/email. Maybe you will have better luck.

Hacienda Lareno in Lares. I hear there is no tour, but you can take pictures of the farm and buy coffee — 897-3643 or maybe 787-316-4939

Hacienda Lucero, in Ponce, 787-848-8387.

Hacienda El Jibarito and Hacienda Gripinas are old coffee plantations that are now Paradores, which means they have been converted into small, basic hotels. Both are on “the list” of coffee tours, so you can try calling. El Jibarito -in San Sebastian, 787-280-4040 and Gripinas, in Juyuya, 787-828-1717.

The next haciendas used to be on the PRTC list of coffee tours and I wasn’t able to get in touch with them then and now, they are no longer listed, so good luck! But you can try calling to see if they are still offering anything:

Hacienda Ana Luisa in Las Marias. No idea if they offer anything — 787-833-6078. Cafe Dona Ana.

Hacienda Patricia in Ponce — Supposedly has a coffee antiques museum, not a tour. 787-615-3217, 787-842-0153 or maybe 787-813-1878

Some other ideas for coffee lovers …

Museo del Cafe in Ciales — Located at 42 Palmer Street, this coffee museum roasts and sells fresh coffee. I believe the tour and all the information is only in Spanish, but you can call and see if they have a bi-lingual guide available 787-871-3439. Open Monday to Friday from 8am to 3pm, Saturday/Sunday 8am-5pm. Our review of the museum.

Coffee Tasting Class at Cuatro Sombras in Old San Juan. Our review of the class.

Coffee Festival in Maricao — Annual festival, usually the second weekend in February (but double check the dates to be sure).

Details For the Hacienda Pomarrosa Tour

The price of the tour is $20/person.

Tours are by appointment only. Call or email them to make a reservation.

Note that it is cooler up in the mountains. It was 68°F the day we when, while it was 80°F in San Juan. You might want to bring a sweater.

Allow about 2 hours for the tour.

You can call them at 787-844-3541, 787-460-8934 or 787-461-8493, for more information or to make a reservation.

You can visit the Hacienda Pomarrosa web site for more information or to purchase coffee.

Driving directions from the San Juan area: Take Route 52 toward Ponce. Exit onto Route 10 toward Adjuntas. Follow Route 10 to Route 143, where you’ll turn right. Follow Route 143 to Route 511, turn right. Follow Route 511 — Hacienda Pomarrosa will be on your left after you go around a curve.

Allow at least 2 hours for the drive from the San Juan area.

Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.

PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid ... then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

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16 comments
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  1. I always enjoy and look forward to your next trip out and about in my beautiful Island. It is like being there from the cold and dreary location in Wisconsin where I reside. I found it interesting to read in your latest trip about the coffee plantation that none of the coffee presently sold in PR is no longer 100% Puerto Rican ‘grown’ how very sad. Nice you gave a couple of websites to order some and see if I can find that great taste of PR coffee once again.

  2. On a VERY rainy day (May 17, 2011) we drove from Luquillo to Hacienda Pomarrosa. After enjoying the windy trek up PR 123 (by mistake) we arrived at the Golden Roseapple Farm (Hacienda Pomarrosa) and were met by owner Kurt Legner. After enjoying some very good coffee and some home made banana bread, Kurt gave us a very informative tour of the coffee fields and then the processing facilities. Needless to say we purchased some coffee beans before departing to travel back to our rental in Luquillo. This coffee Hacienda tour was one of the best things we did during our week visit in Puerto Rico.

  3. The information posted about Hacienda Pomarrosa in the PR Day Tours website lead us to sign up for this wonderful tour of the coffee plantation. An experience not to be missed. Kurt talked about the history of coffee in the island and the challenges that coffee growers face from harvesting to marketing. All the things we learned that day made one appreciate an excellent cup of coffee even more. The bushes and coffee beans looked very healthy and promise a great crop this year. The Hacienda also offers immaculate rooms for those who, like me, enjoy eco-friendly environments with the sound of the coqui and the birds. Worth the trip!

  4. I went and toured a bit of Puerto Rico about a year ago, and this was by far the high light. The vistas, the company , and the coffee will for ever have it etched in my mind as a little bit of paradiso!

  5. My husband and I did the coffee tour at Hacienda Pomarrosa during our honeymoon to PR. For nature lovers and adventure lovers (and coffee lovers), this was the perfect day-trip from Old San Juan. The drive into the mountains near Ponce was BEAUTIFUL. What a fun experience.
    Kurt met us in the driveway when we pulled up at the farm. We got lucky as we were the only ones booked for the tour. We sat and talked with him while we drank coffee and had home-made banana nut bread (the best we’ve ever had). He gave us a history lesson – SO INTERESTING – before walking us through his farm, showing us his plants and then step-by-step how he processes the coffee beans, all the way from picking them off the plants to packaging them to sell. His coffee was so good, we bough several packages right there. His coffee is of such great quality, it is worth the price.
    Not the mention, Kurt is a pretty interesting guy. We spent about an hour with him just talking after the tour and drinking espresso.
    I highly recommend making this trip! We wish we had spent the night in one of his cottages. The farm is beautiful and so peaceful!

  6. From the first phone call, Eva and Kurt (the hacienda owners) were kind and helpful, giving us step by step directions to the farm and reserving a space on the tour for us for the same afternoon. The tour was $15 per person, payable in cash or by debit/credit card. The tour started with the interesting history of coffee, served with banana nut bread and a cup of gourmet coffee. Later, Kurt showed us around the hacienda and walked us through the processing of the coffee beans. Finally, we finished with small talk over a cup of expresso coffee. The pride that Eva and Kurt take in their work is evident in the beauty and cleanliness of both the hacienda and the small cottages that are available for rent. Instead of tourists, we felt like friends who were invited to share a cup of coffee in a peaceful atmosphere and get an insiders view on an artisan’s trade.

    P.S. For those of you who like hiking, check out Punto de Cerro since it’s only a couple minutes away from the hacienda. The parking lot is a 10 minute drive from the hacienda, and the summit (where 3 radio towers are located) is a 25 minute hike from the parking lot. You could also drive to the summit, but the hills are pretty steep. Since it is the highest point in Puerto Rico, you can see both the north and south coasts on a clear day. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g147319-d149847-Reviews-Cerro_de_Punta-Puerto_Rico.html and http://www.puertoricodaytrips.com/toro-negro-forest/

  7. I went on the coffee tour of Hacienda Pomarrosa. it is exactly as it is written above. What isn’t mentioned is how wonderful Kurt the owner is. We got lost and arrived late and yet he waited for us to start the tour. He also had banana bread and a cup of his coffee for us. His knowledge of the history of coffee is amazing and he adds his own personal experiences into his presentation. I would have loved to talk to him all day about his life, he is so interesting, and you can tell that he loves what he does. I had been on a plantation tour before that was more commercialized but this exceeded my expectations. I highly recommend it to those interested in coffee even if they aren’t in drinking it.

  8. Today, my wife and I toured Sandra Farms coffee near Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. The experience was amazing from start to finish. Since I found out about the tour on this website, I had to come back and share the good word so that others can enjoy it to. We knew we wanted to do a coffee tour as part of our 4-day trip to Puerto Rico and found several offered throughout the island. Sandra Farms had a great website (http://www.sandrafarms.com), so we gave them a call. I was surprised Israel, the proprietor, answered the phone himself and warmly invited us to stop by, even though we were going to be in the area on Labor Day. Sandra Farms is well positioned to combine with other great tourist activities. If you’re traveling from San Juan, both the Arecibo observatory and the Rio Camuy caves are along the way. We showed up at 10:00 AM and were treated to a delicious coffee tasting on the balcony. The view alone was worth the trip. Then Israel and Sandra stepped us through the coffee growing and harvesting process, answering all of our questions and sharing their passion. If you’re looking for an activity in Puerto Rico that let’s you see the countryside (away from the major tourist cities), learn something about Puerto Rican agriculture, and (most importantly) meet warm and welcoming people and taste coffee that’s grown, harvested, roasted, and brewed on site, this is the one place to do it. The ultimate sign of approval: our 1 1/2 year old daughter was thoroughly entertained!

  9. I didnt like the tour Hacienda Pomarrosa…..its was very expensive and it was difficult to get there.

  10. the last time I was in PR I visited the Museo in Ciales, where my father was born. I understand that my grandfather, Ventura Montes, had a coffee plantation there. The museo knew about it, but did not have much info, also my spanish is not so good. My papa died when I was too young to be interested. If you have any information about the Montes plantation I would love it. I loved the town of Ciales and I know I had realtives in Manati. My grandmother was Ventura’s first wife Beatriz Morales. Love your article and will visit one if I can get there again. Thanks

  11. Touring Sandra Farms was an absolutely FABULOUS experience. We were able to see the entire production experience from coffee plant to cup. It was great to see an old plantation turned into a modern sustainable farm. Your hosts (Sandra and Isreal) are absolutely wonderful – informative, hilarious, and very welcoming. I can’t recommend the Sandra Farms tour highly enough! It’s definitely worth the trip and it’s a beautfiul drive up the montain .

  12. Please note Hacienda Cafe Bello is closed permanently.

  13. Thank you for the info. We have updated the article.

  14. Several years ago I visited Hacienda Pomarrosa. I learned so much from the tour. Kurt was extremely informative.
    I have since only bought mild roasted beans and hand grind then each day. It’s made a huge improvement in my coffee enjoyment.

  15. Haven’t been on a tour yet, but if you’re looking for amazing coffee go to Hacienda San Pedro’s store in San Juan (Santurce area). The BEST coffee I have had in my life. Every time we visit PR we take 4-5 lbs of beans home with us. Hope to see their tour soon, too bad it’s only offered on Sundays.

  16. We went to Sandra Farms as part of our honeymoon adventure in Puerto Rico! We had the most amazing time with Caramelo on a tour of the hacienda. He met us at the exit off the highway and led us deep into the mountain rainforest to the coffee plantation. He showed us so many amazing plants that grow on the land- including macadamia nuts, wild raspberries, avocados, plantations, hibiscus, and orchids! The tour was like visiting a home of a good friend, he explained everything about the coffee growing, drying and roasting, and then ended the tour with a cup of freshly roasted coffee on a beautiful balcony. The trip took us most of the day (we drove from Rio Grande on the east side), but Caramello recommended a great local restaurant, the Hacienda Maribo, to end our late afternoon. AMAZING must do tour for coffee lovers and nature lovers!

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