Certain Caribbean islands have become famous for great-tasting coffee. Here’s where to find the best brews in the region.
Some like it hot, some like it cold. Some like it black, and others like to mix it with milk until it looks more like a milkshake than coffee. Many people in the Caribbean love their coffee as much as Americans do. In fact, they grow some of the best-tasting varieties of coffee beans in the world!
Although most of the world’s coffee is produced in Central and South America, certain Caribbean islands are known for their delicious, smooth coffee roasts. Many of the islands have mountainous regions with cool weather, providing the perfect setting for the beans to grow. In addition, some Caribbean countries have volcanic soil and other unique conditions that produce very vibrant, robust flavors.
Caribbean Islands Famous for Coffee: Jamaica
By far, Jamaica is one of the most famous Caribbean islands when it comes to coffee, thanks to a smooth, mild bean that grows high up in the mountains in rich, wet soil. Known as Blue Mountain Coffee, the beans are blue-green in color and have a strong aroma. As a single origin coffee with good acidity and good body, Blue Mountain beans are a hot commodity that can sell for $50 to $60 a pound.
With rich volcanic soil and high altitudes in the mountainous regions, Puerto Rico has numerous thriving coffee farms. Although there are many famous varieties available on the island, one in particular has become known as the island’s #1 brand– Yaucono. You’ll see the distinctive yellow and black Yaucono coffee bags everywhere you go in Puerto Rico, as it’s hands down the island’s most famous brand. It’s a perfect medium roast with smooth, balanced flavors. And how do Puerto Ricans like to take their coffee? Usually black and strong like an espresso, which they refer to as pocillo.
Coffee grows all year round in the Dominican Republic, and the warm, humid soil in the mountains creates the perfect environment for Arabica beans to thrive. The most famous coffee producer, Santo Domingo, makes full-bodied coffee with a slight hint of cocoa aroma. Most of the country’s residents like to take their coffee black with plenty of sugar.
The island of St. Lucia once produced coffee that was considered the best in the world. However, years of colonial wars between the British and the French left the coffee industry a bit neglected. However, today the country is well-known for Green Gold Mountain coffee, produced by a family-owned company. Green Gold Mountain uses only beans indigenous to St. Lucia, and historic roasting methods. Even the outer bag encasing the coffee is handmade by locals.
Try Green Gold Mountain coffee yourself, and support the coffee trade in St. Lucia!
Haitian Bleu is a rare variety of coffee farmed in Haiti. Produced from the exact arabica varietal as Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, it has a lush sweet flavor with notes of plum, cinnamon, and tobacco. It is rare, simply because coffee production in Haiti has suffered from years of natural disasters and political unrest. However, the popularity of Haitian Bleu beans may catapult the coffee trade to new heights in the coming years.
Coffee production flourished in Cuba in the mid- 18th century, when French farmers fleeing the revolution in Haiti brought better production methods. Trade continued to increase during the 19th and 20th centuries. However, the Cuban Revolution brought significant change to the country, and the coffee trade was nationalized. This resulted in its decline, to the point where today, coffee accounts for only a minimal amount of Cuba’s trade revenue.
Even though Cuban coffee is famously delicious, only small amounts are exported to other countries, mainly to Japan and France. Cuban citizens are only allowed to purchase 2 ounces of coffee rations every 15 days.
Both arabica and robusta beans grow on the island, and growers are paid a fixed rate by the government for their efforts. Most coffee farms are family owned, and are in decline due to the lack of incentives provided by the government. In fact, the lack of beans to make coffee has produced periods over the last century in which it has been popular to mix roasted peas with the beans.
Famous Caribbean coffee brands
Here are some of the most famous Caribbean coffee brands (ones that we haven’t mentioned above) that you’ll find in the islands and beyond:
- El Coqui: 100% Puerto Rican coffee grown in San Sebastian. Locally owned by the Rodriguez family, the brand has been in business for over 20 years. You can buy their products on the island or online.
- Café Rico: This coffee company was founded in the early 1900’s in Puerto Rico. It is currently one of the best-selling coffee brands on the island, and was once the favorite coffee of the Vatican.
- Induban: this coffee from the Dominican Republic has a thick, strong taste.
- Don Justino: Don Justino is a premium brand of coffee from the Dominican Republic.
- Volcanica: This brand is the “creme-de-la-creme” of gourmet coffees, consisting of 100% Blue Mountain beans from the Clydesdale Estate in Jamaica (founded in the 1700s).
- Coffee Roasters of Jamaica: This is 100% Blue mountain coffee from Jamaica, vacuum packed to preserve freshness and placed in an attractive burlap bag.
- Haitian Rebo Coffee: This brand is one of the top exporters of coffee in Haiti. Once one of the largest exporters of the beans during the colonial era, this country has unfortunately suffered a decline in the coffee trade in recent times. Haitian Rebo Coffee is attempting to create a network between the company and coffee farmers to ensure that their products make it to market and sell at a fair price.
Main image source: caribbeancoffee.com