Introduced to Puerto Rico in the 17th century, coffee was first a cash crop consumed mainly by locals. With the most significant output produced during the Spanish colonial period in the 18th century, the production slowed down when the United States came to annex the island. During this period of slowed coffee production, the island was focused on the commercial output of sugar cane crops.  

Puerto Rico’s gourmet coffee trade has been gaining popularity recently, with a resurgence of historic coffee haciendas of the Spanish colonial period and new farms opening to the public. The island’s coffee flavor is said to be sweet and smooth. While coffee is grown all over the island, high-value coffee crops tend to fare well in the volcanic soil that’s packed with nutrients in the mountain ranges of Cordillera Central.

San Juan local coffee roasters

The significance of coffee in Puerto Rico is steeped in history, pun intended. The tradition of growing quality beans and producing their world-famous coffee continues to be a major source of pride. The practice of drinking and enjoying coffee remains a popular tradition that every visitor should plan to indulge in while on the island. If visiting San Juan, here are a few places you might want to consider checking out:

  • Finca Cialitos is a coffee shop within the San Juan metro area. This cafe provides an authentic Puerto Rican coffee experience and serves un-blended coffee from their Southern region. If staying in San Juan, you might want to drop by and taste a delicious cup of joe while enjoying the cozy and relaxed atmosphere of the cafe.
  • Café Don Ruiz carries on a long-standing family tradition of roasting coffee. This coffee shop specializes in serving coffee grown and harvested in Yauco, also called “Coffee Town,” an area that’s remained a major producer for the island’s coffee industry. At Cafe Don Ruiz, your coffee experience is entrenched in history. This San Juan coffee shop is situated within the walls of Cuartel de Ballaja, was once used as barracks for Spanish soldiers during the Spanish colonial period.
  • Café Colao is the perfect place to enjoy some of Puerto Rico’s finest coffee while looking out at the water and watching the boats move in and around the docks of Old San Juan. This cafe is a popular spot for tourists because they can try out multiple kinds of coffee from all over the island. Here, many will buy their favorite brand of island coffee to take home with them, while others will even decide to take one of the barista classes that the shop hosts.
Cobblestone streets in Old San Juan

Coffee Haciendas Worth a Tour or Visit in Puerto Rico

There are several coffee farms in this area where you can enjoy a tour, buy some packaged products, or sit and sip on a coffee in the cafe. A majority of the island’s best coffee is grown in the high altitudes of the central and mountainous areas of Puerto Rico, where the soil is the most nutrient-rich. 

This means you might want to consider a day trip to one of the following coffee haciendas that are located within a one and a half to two-hour drive from San Juan for the most authentic and scenic experience: 

  • Hacienda Lealtad: This coffee farm is located in the mountain town of Lares, where agriculture is the primary source of revenue. Lares is about an hour and a half drive from San Juan, where the high elevation offers stunning views of the mountains and lush landscapes. Hacienda Lealtad is a historic coffee estate that dates back to the 1800s and is still grown on the mountain range and packaged on-site. 

Be sure to start with a tour at the plantation to learn how they select, grow, and harvest their coffee and look into the different stages of production. When visiting the estate, we recommend that you enjoy a meal or pastry with your coffee from their bistro, Café Lealtad.

  • Hacienda Tres Ángeles: This is a roughly two-hour, scenic drive from San Juan and is situated deep in the mountains of the Adjuntas. Here you can get both your caffeine and nature fix in one outing. Take one of the plantation’s guided tours to learn their coffee’s growing, harvesting, and production process. 

The beans from this farm have been dubbed by the United Nations World Tourism Association as one the most esteemed Specialty Coffees in the world. Don’t forget to grab a coffee from their cafe on the plantation grounds.

  • Hacienda de Cafe Pomarrosa: For the ultimate coffee lover’s experience, we recommend visiting the Hacienda de Cafe Pomarrosa in Barrio, an officially certified agricultural tourism destination. After touring the farm, enjoying beautiful mountain views, and learning about coffee making from the grower, ‘What more could you ask for?’ you may wonder. 

To top things off, we suggest that you book a room and stay the night at their beautiful bed and breakfast. Then, wake up to enjoy a delicious breakfast and their signature coffee before heading out for a day of more adventure. 

  • Additionally, you may want to check out Café Lareño and Café Oro while in the area to round out your coffee experience.

Best coffee plantation tours near San Juan

Did you know that many coffee aficionados recommend that you try a cup of Puerto Rican coffee black? This is due to the uniquely sweet flavor and creamy consistency that has a hint of chocolate taste to finish. Of course, this means that it is just as good without sugar, but you’ll have to try it for yourself to see if you agree with the experts.

Thankfully, there is no shortage of opportunities to try out some of the island’s gourmet coffee. Even better, if you taste test your way around the different brands and roasts from around the island, you can always grab some to take home with you. If you’re looking for somewhere closer to San Juan to enjoy a coffee plantation tour, look no further than:

  • Cafe Hacienda San Pedro: This coffee estate dates back to the late 19th century when Emeterio Atienza arrived in Puerto Rico at the age of 13 to work on a coffee plantation. After years of hard work and determination, Emeterio started his own coffee farm. Since then, four generations of the Atienza family have continued the coffee-growing tradition and preserved many of the traditions started by don Emeterio more than 100 years ago.
  • Hacienda Muñoz: A relatively new coffee hacienda, Hacienda Muñoz is thirty minutes drive from San Juan and is a convenient option for those who don’t have the time to drive to the mountains of central Puerto Rico to visit some of the other historied haciendas. You can opt into a walking tour of the coffee farm and then stop to enjoy a bite to eat and a coffee before heading out again.
Cocktails on the beach at Numero Uno Beach House, San Juan

Savor as you sip

Whether you are a casual coffee drinker or a coffeeholic, you will be delighted to have a new experience with your morning cup of joe. While in Puerto Rico, you might discover that you’ve never enjoyed your morning beverage as much as you do after trying what the island has to offer. This gourmet coffee experience will be a treat for the senses and the taste buds.

 But even more importantly, you may experience coffee in a way that you may have taken for granted over the years. This added appreciation for what you’re drinking will come as you better understand the history, traditions, practices, and cultural significance of Puerto Rico’s coffee. So, be sure that you take the time to savor as you sip.