Puerto Rico

We currently have no coffee from Puerto Rico to offer, since none has passed muster on the cupping table. Sadly we can't see this changing in the near future, but since we have offered Puerto Rico coffee in the past, we want to share our experience with it. Puerto Rico has been a tough coffee origin in recent years. With increased awareness about the effect of low altitude production on coffee, the need for a lot of human labor to hand pick and sort coffee to create truly great lots, and changing weather patterns...well, everything is stacked against Puerto Rico.

They don't have the access to labor, they don't have the altitude, the picking and preparation have been poor, and all of this shows in the cup. When it was good, to describe the flavor it is best to think about the general term "island profile." These coffees, which include Jamaica and Kona, have a soft cup, not acidic, balanced, and mild. They are approachable coffees and all happen to be quite expensive. Be aware of the fact that higher priced coffees don't necessarily have a "better" cup, but rather that price is determined by the cost of production, and limited availability. Remember that this is a coffee grown in the U.S. so production costs are higher. We would love to support coffee production in PR because it is from the US, but can't do it solely because of that factor, and particularly because we find it does not pass our minimum expectations on the cupping table.

As you can see in the image here, the selection of coffee cherry can be quite poor. To produce clean and defect-free coffee flavors in the cup, one of the requirements is selection of ripe coffee cherry only. Green unripe cherries make for astringent and harsh flavors in the cup, while over-ripe produce fermenty wine-to-vinegar notes.

Here is some more background from literature of the well-known Yauco Selecto coffee brand:
"Puerto Rico has a well developed coffee tradition. The history of coffee is closely tied to the history of this Caribbean island. First brought in 1736, the Spanish immigrants who settled on the island relegated coffee to a secondary role for the most part of the 18th century. At the time, the fertile valleys were their main concern and sugar and the crops were the order of the day. During the early part of the 19th century, events in Europe forced a migration of residents from the French Mediterranean island of Corsica. They arrived to Puerto Rico and were quickly told that if they wanted to farm, they would have to go to the highlands for all the valleys were taken by the Spanish immigrants. They settled in the Southwestern Mountains of the island, mostly around a town called Yauco. Hard work and determination was rewarded when they brought forth the idea of growing coffee in these high mountains. By the 1860s they dominated the coffee industry on the island. Two devastating hurricanes hit Puerto Rico during 1898. The hurricanes destroyed the coffee industry. Farmers needed to wait two years to begin seeing the crop return to its normal level. During this time, it was evident that the United States was interested in Puerto Rico (along with Cuba and the Philippines) for its sugar production. Tariffs gave coffee in Puerto Rico a severe blow as European nations no longer allowed our coffee to come in as a colonial product. The United States had a long standing agreement to buy the bulk of its coffee from Brazil."

No coffees are currently available from this origin. The review is our most recent offering, provided for reference.
Puerto Rico Yauco Selecto AA
Appearance.2 d/300gr, 18+ screen
GradeAA
Processing
RegionPuerto Rico,
Varietal(s)
RoastCity+ is ideal for the cup I describe. This coffee can take darker roasts and develops a good tangy bittersweet roast flavor. It also makes interesting single estate espresso.
Yauco Selecto is the premium coffee from the small growing regions on the island. Production is limited and the last count I could find was 3500 bags per year. In the scheme of things its not much, and the fact these are Kona-style 100 lb bags makes the crop that much smaller. Many other price factors bear on this coffee too: since it is produced in the US the price refelects what US consumers should probably be paying for all coffee, if origins enjoyed the protections that we grant our own. There is a long tradition of coffee from Puerto Rico that was destroyed by a combination of hurricane damage and market pressures. In Europe, Puerto Rican coffees were considered the pinnacle of quality, because they have unparalleled body for an island coffee, and a soft low-acid flavor profile. The coffee is air-frieghted in small quantities to the US, so it is basically always fresh from the Yauco Selecto mill. For me, Yauco is not a year-round coffee, but rather has a seasonal peak that varies but is generally in the early part for the new year, through Spring. Too early in the crop cycle or too late and the delicate balance is upset by greenish cup flavors or by baggy old flavors. Then, there are whole years where we simply pass, when I feel that the weather has had a bad influence on the coffee. A mild cup can be easily ruined! I was happy to find this cup from new crop sample to have the character I remember: first and foremost a creamy, buttery body with nutty tones. The dry fragrance has a very attractive caramel smell with almond hint. It fades into bittersweetness in the wet aroma, but resurfaces in the cup flavors. Yet I would not characterize this as a super sweet coffee in the scheme of things; it is softly bittersweet, and with previously mentioned buttery-creamy body. I find that the Cona vacuum brew method is ideal for this coffee, bringing out the body and some subtle aromatic herbal character that I missed in the paper-drip brew; an excellent rosemary herby note. Yauco Selecto is pricey, but has the Jamaican "island cup profile", and in that repect it's half the price. I like it at a fairly light roast for drip coffee, but at Full City+ this coffee makes a really nice straight roast espresso, with great balance and body. I highly recommend this coffee for single-Estate straight roast espresso.