Puerto Rico: Cup of Old San Juan

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Once favored by kings and popes, Puerto Rico's coffee is making a comeback. The Caribbean island proudly exported its beans all over Europe in the 1800s , but hurricanes and a labor shortage knocked out much of the island's coffee production. Recent worldwide demand for top-quality beans has created a new buzz around Puerto Rico's sweet, full- bodied brew. As the island celebrates the end of its bean harvest, now is the time to experience Puerto Rico's coffee renaissance -- from San Juan's hip cafes to the Cordillera Central's historic haciendas.

Begin your caffeine-a-thon at Café Cola'o on Pier 2 in Old San Juan. Outside, old men mingle over steaming cups while inside a line forms for whole beans harvested from island plantations and for lattes graced with intricate foam designs. For a second jolt, head to Karamelos Coffee & Gallery, next to the San Juan Cathedral. Pop music keeps the pace as coffee connoisseurs take shots of earthy island espresso. Next, go to the source: the coffee haciendas high in the Cordillera Central mountain range.

Rent a car and zip along the curvy, mango-tree-lined string of highways called La Ruta Panorámica to Hacienda Ana in Jayuya and Café Bello in Adjuntas. Stroll through glistening fields of coffee shrubs and learn firsthand how ripe, red beans become rich, roasted brew. Continue deep into coffee country to Maricao, where the annual coffee festival features traditional music, parades, and of course, freshly brewed joe. Book a stay in the mountain town of San Seb- astián at Hacienda El Jibarito, a luxurious resort that roasts its own beans on the premises. Sleep there, if you can.

Plan Your Trip

  • Celebrate the end of the coffee harvest at the Maricao Coffee Festival from February 14 to 16.
  • Relax with an aromatic coffee-grounds massage out on the veranda of your Hacienda el Jibarito villa.
  • Hacienda el Jibarito villa rates for double accommodations from $129.
  • Learn more at gotopuertorico.com/coffee.