A Visit to the Hacienda Buena Vista Coffee Plantation
Puerto Rico is known for many things, and great coffee is just about at the top of the list. Because of Puerto Rico’s rich soil and cool mountain regions, coffee grows very well here, and it has been a major agricultural crop for the last 150 years.
Located in the lush mountains above Ponce, Hacienda Buena Vista is a beautifully restored, 19th century coffee mill and plantation. There is a main house, slave quarters, farm buildings, and processing areas. Powered by water from a waterfall, the processing equipment is still in working condition.
Restored and operated by the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust, Hacienda Buena Vista provides a glimpse of living and working conditions in times past. They run guided tours of the plantation, during which your guide will explain all the aspects of growing and processing coffee, and the corn grinding business of the last century.
At the beginning of the tour, you are given a brief history of the original owners, and tour the farm house. Many of the furnishings have been donated by the original family. Then you take a walk to see the waterfall that runs the machinery. Along the way, the guide will explain coffee growing process and point out other interesting trees and plants. The waterway, which carries water from the falls to the processing equipment, is visible all along the path.
As you return to the processing area, you are told about the coffee process – drying, cleaning, roasting etc. It is very interesting how nature came into play in the process – they used the sun to dry the beans, but the drying racks roll into a specially designed building in case of rain.
Next, you go into the corn processing area, which is – you guessed it – powered by water. The your guide will start the machinery, and you can watch the whole process of how they used to produce corn meal and prepare it for market.
The farm still has many acres planted with coffee and cacao. The best times to visit the plantation are during March for the cacao processing, and during the fall/winter for the coffee harvest and processing. During coffee and cacao seasons, guests are permitted to assist in the process, and get a taste of the end product. Call ahead for their exact schedule.
The admission fee for adults is $10.00, and $7.00 for children. Either use their website to make reservation online (it is very easy!), or call for reservations.
You can visit the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust web site for more information.
Tours are conducted Wednesday through Sunday, by reservation only.
Tours are available in English only at 1:30pm, or Spanish at 8:30am, 10:30am, 1:30pm,and 3:30pm.
Take Road 52 to Ponce; exit on Road 10 north towards Adjuntas. Hacienda Buena Vista is on RT 123 at K 16.8, about 7 miles from Ponce.
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