Experience Local Hospitality at Café Gran Batey
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There is nothing much better than being welcomed into the kitchen of a local Puerto Rican. You’ll always find freshly-brewed coffee, something simmering on the stove, and a warm atmosphere. Now, if that coffee was home-grown and processed, and then roasted right in front of you … then you know you have found something truly special.
We recently went on a tour at Café Gran Batey in Utuado, and we fell in love. We got to see coffee growing in their fields, and how they process the coffee at every step … all the way up to bagging the freshly-roasted, warm beans for sale.
This is not to be missed if you are in the area and have a couple hours to spare.
Café Gran Batey is a small, family-run coffee farm in the beautiful Caguana area of Utuado. Here, the Morales-Aymat family work the land and machines to produce delicious coffee. They offer tours at their farm, showing you the coffee-making process from bush to bag. Then they invite you into their kitchen for a cup (or two!) of their quality coffee.
The first time we experienced Café Gran Batey was at the 2013 Coffee & Chocolate Expo in San Juan, and our “coffee connoisseur” friend loved it. While telling us about their coffee production, they told us that they offer tours of their farm. They invited us to visit, so we went.
Bernardo and his wife, Lotty, greeted us when we arrived at their farm. Bernardo is an agronomist, and he works with the plants and processes the beans. Lotty helps with processing and is the coffee maker. Their son Daniel, an agronomist and trained in coffee specialties, is sometimes there on weekends to help with the tours, but he was unable to be there during our visit.
Though Bernardo says that he isn’t comfortable with his English, he did a great job of communicating his love of coffee and their coffee-production process.
He led us around the farms showing us their arabica coffee plants (shaded by beautiful orange trees), both in flower and in fruit. He explained the differences between arabica and robusto coffee. He took us into the buildings housing the machines used to process the coffee beans. He started each of the machines for us to show how they worked to skin, sort, dry. de-chaf, and grade the coffee beans. It was all really interesting.
Next, we watched Bernardo roasting the coffee beans that would (in just moments) be used to brew coffee for us to taste. It was really neat, and the roasting coffee beans smelled great.
Next, Lotty took over (she doesn’t speak much English, but she is so sweet and welcoming). She warmed the milk for my café con leche — explaining how this was the old way (and still the best way) to break down the milk fat for the best flavor. And, of course, she offered us cake to go with the coffee, and then other goodies showed up for us to taste. The fresh oranges from their trees where delicious, too. The whole time we were there we were treated like family.
After we finished with the tasting, Lotty offered to bag up as much of the freshly roasted coffee beans as we wanted to buy. They only roast in small batches, right as the coffee is ordered, so it is fresh and at its best.
This coffee is good … really good. And don’t just take my word for it — their sample from their 2012 crop achieved the highest score of all the coffees judged in the Specialty Coffee Association of America convention that year.
Café Gran Batey is a small place, and it is a family affair. All the love and pride they have for the land, their coffee and all things Puerto Rican will warm your heart. We missed harvest season (which is September to November or December), but that is OK … we were invited back to pick this fall!
On a side note — The whole processing operation is located on flat ground, just a few feet from the parking area, so it is accessible for most everyone. There are just a couple steps up into the house for the coffee roasting area and kitchen (for tasting).
The coffee tasting and farm tour are free. While you’re there, you should buy a bag (or 2 or 3) of their fresh-roasted coffee. They sell it (beans or ground) by the pound or ½-pound.
They are generally available for tours, but call ahead just to make sure someone will be there for you. Especially if you want a full tour and one in English. Open about 10-11am until 2-3pm. Call ahead!.
Allow 1 to 2 hours for the tour and tasting.
You can call Café Gran Batey at 787-636-5442 or 787-608-1246, or send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can get more info, and purchase their coffee, on the Café Gran Batey web site.
You can purchase their coffee in person at their farm, over the phone, on their web site, or at Café Cola’o in Old San Juan.
Café Gran Batey farm is located on Road 111 KM 11 in Utuado, about 1½ hours from San Juan. They are located just down the road from the Caguana Ceremonial Park.
We are in the process of updating the maps we use on our web site. While we're working on that, you can click on the GPS coordinates below to view the location on Google Maps ...
- Cafe Gran Batey: (18.288066, -66.769002)
- Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Park: (18.295175, -66.778037)
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