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Coffee from the Dominican Republic is a unique, dark-roasted, and richly flavored beverage that accurately reflects the colorful nature and character of the country. There is hardly any coffee-loving tourist that leaves this great nation without a bagful of Dominican coffee to take home as souvenirs. It is definitely the pride and joy of Dominicans, both locals and those living in foreign countries. This is why this article has been put together for both beginners and coffee connoisseurs so that they can know what they are missing if they have never tasted one of the best coffees in the world today.
But before delving into the meat of the matter, here are some interesting facts about the Dominican Republic coffee.
Interesting Facts about Coffee from the Dominican Republic
The story of how the Dominican Republic coffee came to be one of the most cherished non-alcoholic beverages in the world today began as far back as the 18th century. Spanish migrants or settlers brought the seedlings of several coffee trees from the island of Martinique to the Dominican Republic.
Another version of the story has it that Arabica coffee beans were brought to the Dominican Republic sometime in 1735. The love for this brewed, dark beverage quickly took hold of the Dominicans such that only about 20 percent of the coffee grown in this country is exported to other Caribbean islands that do not cultivate coffee. The Dominican Republic also exports coffee to distant nations such as Canada, Italy, Germany, the United States, Japan, and France.
The remaining 80 percent is heartily consumed by the inhabitants of this lovely Caribbean island. Arabica is the dominant variety of coffee that is grown in the Dominican Republic, though Robusta is also cultivated but only takes about 1.3% of the land area.
The high altitudes, as well as the hot and sultry climate, makes the Dominican Republic a haven for quality coffee plants. There are at least four different mountain ranges with twenty-five separate growing regions within the major growing areas. Most of these highlands form approximately one-half of the area of Hispaniola. There are approximately 40,000 -50,000 coffee farmers operating in this particular sector.
These high elevations are also home to some of the highest-grade Arabica coffee you will ever find anywhere. This is why true coffee connoisseurs know and do not joke with Dominican coffee because it is a premium drink. The dark, Arabica coffee is so unique that it doesn’t have the customary bitter taste associated with several dark roast coffees out there. This is probably why the richly flavored coffee from the Dominican Republic ranks very high, and the price is relatively pocket-friendly.
Dominican coffee is robust and incredibly rich. Every grain of Dominican coffee is rich in caffeine and superbly flavored in oils. There is an independent association – i.e., ADOCAFES – in the country which is established and tasked with the assignment of assessing or evaluating the taste of Dominican coffee and perfecting new varieties of coffee.
At present, nearly all Dominican coffee is grown and then processed together or sent out of the country for processing. But the Dominican Republic government are taking giant strides to ensure coffee production is highly refined on the Caribbean island so that the growth of specialty coffee beans will be duly encouraged in regions with high altitudes.
The Dominican Republic’s Technology of Coffee Production
Characteristically, most coffee trees do not reach beyond 4 meters in height, and tree yields more or less nine pounds of coffee cherry per annum. After the cherry fruits are carefully harvested – i.e., hand-picked – they are roasted. Hand-picking the coffee cherries is the only way the ripe beans can be picked, thus saving the unripe to be picked later on when they are ripe and ready. Then, they are sorted to get the good coffee beans out of the entire bunch. The good coffee beans float in water while the bad ones sink to the bottom of the container.
Afterward, the coffee beans are separated once again according to the density of each of the bean. This is the process which highlights how the coffee bean is graded. This process also shows that the better the coffee, the denser the bean. After that, the coffee beans are fermented outside the house and on a concrete floor for the next few days.
The humidity and weather can affect the drying process, and so it can take up to a few days, also depending on the bean type.
Now, bear in mind that the dried coffee beans don’t have that characteristic smell or flavor yet. This magic, however, takes place during the process of roasting. In the rural areas, the roasting of coffee beans is done predominantly over an open fire. The coffee beans are poured into an iron pot and stirred for about forty-five minutes to an hour. Cinnamon sticks are usually added to enhance the flavor of the coffee bean.
Then, the coffee is bagged and sealed airtight because oxygen is the most significant killer of this fantastic flavor. Generally, the best method to preserve the taste of coffee beans and enjoy your mug of beverage is to grind them right before preparing them. For a more extended shelf-life or storage, keep the coffee in an air-sealed container and place it in the freezer.
At the end of the day, you will be left with over two pounds of the finished product.
Coffee Produced Organically from the Dominican Republic.
It takes nothing less than four long years for a coffee plant to start producing.
First comes the sweet, scented flowers of the coffee plant and this is when the little beans start growing very fast, where the flower once was. It will end up taking nearly thirty-five weeks for the flower to turn entirely into a green berry at first, and then a red one. When the coffee “cherry” is fully ripe it is bright red, shiny, and firm.
Most of the coffee that is cultivated in the Dominican Republic is grown predominantly in full shaded areas with maybe ten percent of it is grown in the sun. This is the primary reason why farmers decidedly mix the crop with palm trees and cocoa as well as bananas or plantains to provide the much-needed shade for the coffee plants.
This is extraordinarily good for the environment because the shades of these trees provide habitats for many species of lizards, birds as well as orchid plants.
About ninety percent of the entire coffee that is produced in the Dominican Republic is not only organic but also environmentally friendly since most coffee growers do not use any form of fertilizers or chemical pesticides in the growing process from start to finish.
Coffee trees always look beautiful, especially when they are blossoming. The flowers also give off a pleasant and delicate aroma. Undeveloped coffee beans are green, but as they ripen or mature, their color changes from green to red, and then to a deep purplish-red color called maroon. When ripe, the coffee cherry contains two coffee beans.
After coffee cherries become fully ripe for harvest, they are hand-picked carefully, washed in water so that they can be clean, and then dried. The outer layer of the coffee cherry is very bitter. However, what is required is the fruit underneath which is sweet and has the look as well as the feel of the inside of a grape. Below that is a slimy, heavy substance which surrounds the bean and acts as additional protection for the coffee bean. Then they are sent to the producers. Some coffee farmers, however, take it upon themselves to pre-roast the beans.
The Dominican Tradition of Drinking Coffee
You will hardly ever come across a true Dominican who is not a diehard coffee drinker. Nearly every inhabitant of this Caribbean island loves to drink this strong caffeine-rich beverage. Drinking tea in the Dominican Republic is not a culture, so if you are a tea drinker, you may have to make do with coffee because you will not come across any high-quality tea for sale. But there is coffee in abundance, each with its distinct taste and according to your financial capacity.
The standard or regular way of drinking Dominican coffee is sweeter than sweet, and most Dominicans brew the coffee together with lots of sugar. There are a few incredibly rare cases where the drinker prefers to take the coffee in its bitter form but be sure that such individuals are looked upon with something that bothers on suspicion. The major cash crop of the Dominican Republic is sugar, and this product takes the lead by being even much more important to its national economy than coffee. So, refraining from the consumption of sugar may attract some hostility and be regarded as an insult.
But the truth is, Dominicans are sugar cravers, i.e., they have a sweet tooth. At times, they pile in sugar into their hot brew until it looks somewhat like a syrup. This is why you should be watchful when buying coffee in the Dominican Republic. When placing your order, always ask the waiter to serve the sugar separately.
As for individuals who do not drink coffee at all, they are considered to be nothing but lost causes.
Coffee is almost always drunk black the Dominican Republic, or by itself (i.e., solo). A café con leche (i.e., white coffee) is confusingly known as a ‘medio pollo’ – which literally means ‘half a chicken.’
Dominicans drink a lot of coffee and at any time of the day. Coffee in this part of the world is prepared using special geyser coffee makers and consumed from small cups. Dominican coffee is quite strong, and this is one of the reasons why locals like to add lots of sugar to their cup of coffee.
Dominicans also love to drink their coffees with lots of milk, i.e., café con leche. So, if you prefer your cup of coffee to be laced with milk, do tell the waiter to do so.
How to Choose Coffee from the Dominican Republic
There are several types of Dominican coffees available as mentioned earlier. You can buy them from coffee vendors who go about carrying little plastic cups with sugar already added, that is if you want the on-the-go variety. But if you don’t, and you need to select a coffee from these varieties in the supermarkets or stores around town, make sure you choose a drink that befits your nose and taste. The majority of Dominican coffee packages come with tiny holes or valves via which you can smell the flavor of the beans if you press the container slightly. So, go for the coffee that has the flavor you love and cherish the most.
Some gift shops also organize coffee tastings, so you can take advantage of this to enable you to go for one that is according to your taste.
Green Coffee – A Dominican Specialty for People Concerned about their Figures and Health
If you belong to the category of people who are very finicky about their figures and health status but love to drink coffee nonetheless, there is good news for you. The Dominican Republic has green coffee which is the perfect choice for people who want to lose weight and keep their slim figures at all times.
Green Dominican coffee does not have that distinct flavor and taste that its drier or roasted counterparts have, but it is incredibly full of helpful antioxidative properties along with a compound known as chlorogenic acid which helps to burn off fat.
Green coffee from the Dominican Republic is also alleged to enhance both physical and mental activity. It is also helpful for alleviating headaches and can easily be recognized in stores by bright packaging which clearly gives a picture of green coffee beans.
Eleven Things You Should Know About Caffeine and Coffee
1. Caffeine – or Trimethylxanthine – is what gives coffee its kick. It is a bitter stimulant that is usually found in tea, coffee, kola nuts, soft drinks, chocolate, and some particular medicines. This addictive stimulant can affect the human brain in the same way that more powerful and addictive drugs do. This substance stimulates the central nervous system and also works as a metabolic stimulant. Caffeine is also used medically and recreationally to restore alertness as well as to ease physical fatigue.
Moderate doses of caffeine significantly increase wakefulness, clearer and faster flow of thought, enhanced focus as well as overall body coordination. The amount of caffeine that is needed to produce these effects in the human body varies from one person to another and also depends significantly on the degree of tolerance and body size.
The average 6-ounce cup of hot, brewed coffee contains approximately 100mg of caffeine. Effects of caffeine on the human body begin less than one hour after consuming coffee and wear off or subside in the next five hours.
2. According to a legend, the first time the effects of caffeine was first observed by Ethiopian shepherds when they suddenly noticed that the goats that they were watching over appeared to become frisky. When the shepherds checked, they saw that the dancing goats had eaten some coffee berries.
3. The emergence of Islam is alleged to have contributed considerably to the acceptance and popularity of coffee. Although the religion prohibits the drinking of alcohol, coffee was considered – and is still – an acceptable drink for all and sundry.
4. Coffee was eaten, initially, by African tribes when they mixed coffee berries with edible fat to form comestible energy balls.
5. Do you know that all coffee in every coffee-growing region of the world grows within an area between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, known as the “Bean Belt?” well, now you know. The only state in the United States that grows coffee is Hawaii.
6. At least seventy percent of the coffee-drinking universe drinks Arabic coffee copiously, and that is probably because it is aromatic and mild. The remaining thirty percent consume Robusta coffee which tastes relatively bitter and also has at least fifty percent more caffeine than its counterpart, Arabica coffee.
7. The coffee plant can grow as high as thirty feet on trees. But to facilitate easy picking when the coffee cherries are fully ripe, the coffee plant is cultivated and pruned to around ten feet.
8. The coffee bean, in reality, is not the cherry itself but a seed that is found right inside the bright-red non-citrus fruit.
9. According to the current statistics, coffee is the second, most-traded commodity in the world today.
10. George Washington – not Mr. President, mind you – is a Belgian living in Guatemala and the inventor of instant coffee.
11. The traditional – ‘campo’ way – of making a cup of authentic Dominican coffee is by drying the coffee beans out in the sun, grinding, and then roasting them in a pilon. Afterward, you will either sieve or strain the ground coffee with boiling water via a device called a collator, a variation of the colander which resembles a small butterfly net. Café de pilon, as it is known, has a characteristic rustic taste, and evokes considerable nostalgia for the old times. One of the ultimate compliments a Dominican can make about a cup of coffee is to say that it tastes like café de pilon.
The Best Dominican Coffee
Peak Performance High Altitude Organic Coffee
This is a USDA-certified, single-origin, and high-altitude medium roast coffee. it even comes with a special free report titled “How to Make the Healthiest Cup of Coffee.”
Here is part of what you will come across in the short report:
Coffee Rule 1
Always go for organic coffee, and the reason is that most of the regular coffees out there are treated heavily with herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides. One out of the numerous health risks posed by these preservative and preventative chemicals is that they can act as xenoestrogens in the human body. Xenoestrogens can disrupt the hormone balance of both men and women, so you should be careful when choosing the best Dominican coffee to purchase.
Coffee Rule 2
Coffee that is grown at extremely high altitudes fares better than their counterparts grown in low regions. This is because coffee that is grown at such high elevations produce dense coffee beans which will result in thick, high-quality coffee when processed. This means that the higher the elevation or altitude the coffee is grown at, the denser the coffee bean.
If you have come across the term SHB (Strictly Hard Bean) which signifies high-altitude, dense coffee, then this is the right type of coffee for you to consume at all times. The Peak Performance High Altitude Organic Coffee, as the name implies, was cultivated in the Guatemalan Highlands and a perfect example of the “Strictly Hard Bean.” This product is not only incredibly dense but also high-quality.
Coffee that is cultivated at high-altitudes also contain lots of antioxidants, much more than its counterparts that grow in low-altitude regions.
Coffee Rule 3
Single Origin coffee is the best, and this is because most “blended” coffees may not be entirely pure as there is a high probability that at least one or more of the blended coffee beans may have been contaminated. Some coffees, especially those with short shelf-lives, can be contaminated with mold which robs it entirely of energy, thereby ruining the entire batch.
The manufacturers of the Peak Performance High Altitude Organic Coffee assure coffee connoisseurs of 100 percent happiness guarantee and that you will no doubt feel the difference between this product and other coffee products out there in the market today. To let you know how confident they are, the producers cover the Peak Performance High Altitude Organic Coffee with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee or your money back.
So, you are at liberty to give it a shot and enjoy your delicious, richly-flavored, beverage, risk-free!
Kimera Koffee K-Cups – Nootropic Infused Ground Coffee
The Kimera Koffee K-Cups – Nootropic Infused Ground Coffee is a single estate high-altitude coffee that comes in 24 servings per container, right from the Dominican Republic. Each of the single-serve capsules is loaded with 725 mg of Premium Nootropics, i.e., Alpha-GPC, Taurine, DMAE, and L-Theanine.
Kimera Koffee K-Cups – Nootropic Infused Ground Coffee optimizes focus, boost up energy levels while enhancing athletic performance.
Decaffeinated Coffee Santo Domingo Decaf
The Decaffeinated Coffee Santo Domingo Decaf is one of the great, dark roasted coffees from the Dominican Republic and is popular for its sweet, hard-candy taste which lacks the characteristic bitterness that is associated with dark-roasted coffees. It is always fresh, so you need not be afraid that you will be getting a stale product when you place an order for it. It is 99 percent decaffeinated ground coffee and is packed in a vacuum to preserve all the aroma as well as the taste.
Santo Domingo Espresso – Ground Dominican Coffee
Santo Domingo Espresso – Ground Dominican Coffee is a long-lasting product with a shelf life of two years from the date of manufacture. This is as a result of its sealed package as well as its high quality.
The Santo Domingo Espresso – Ground Dominican Coffee product comes in three bags – i.e., one pound each – and is one of the most loved coffee products in the Dominican Republic. This distinctive espresso ground coffee is dark roasted, rich-flavored, and world-class, the perfect answer to willing espresso coffee machines. It is widely recognized for its unique aroma and tasty flavor, which is second to none, especially in Latin America as well as the other coffee-drinking countries of the world.
Place an order for the Santo Domingo Espresso – Ground Dominican Coffee and receive this excellent product packed with its untouched, original, and sealed package which will be sent directly from the storehouse of the manufacturer. This coffee-producing company has been in the business for more than seventy years and counting.
So, there is no chance that you will regret making that purchase decision as you will undoubtedly get your money worth and even more!
Café Mama Ines Traditional Dominican Ground Coffee
The Café Mama Ines Traditional Dominican Ground Coffee is a twelve-ounce bag of goodness with authentic flavor and taste of Dominican coffee. This coffee from the Dominican Republic ranks among the best full-flavored non-alcoholic caffeine-rich beverage, produced and imported from the Caribbean island.
Café Molido Santo Domingo – Ground Dominican Coffee
The Café Molido Santo Domingo – Ground Dominican Coffee comes in a two-pound pack which is full of nothing else but excellent Dominican coffee. This bestselling Dominican coffee is made of one hundred percent dark Arabica coffee with remarkable apple and grape flavors.
The Café Molido Santo Domingo – Ground Dominican Coffee also has soft acidity along with a hint of spice and vanilla. So, grab a pack of this fantastic Dominican coffee and taste the goodness of Café Molido Santo Domingo – Ground Dominican Coffee.
Monte Real Gourmet Arabica Coffee
This 200-gram Monte Real Gourmet Arabica Coffee is a Dominican premium ground roasted coffee that comes with distinct cacao flavor. It is a unique coffee that is made almost entirely of pure Dominican coffee beans – up to 99.99 percent – while the remaining 0.01 percent is pure chocolate.
This coffee with a chocolate background or undertone doubles the pleasant taste of nature in this unique non-alcoholic beverage. Dominicans nearly always wake up to the sweet aroma of Monte Real Gourmet Arabica Coffee every morning. And no matter where you are in the Dominican Republic – in the city, countryside or even on the hilly slopes – nothing else can make you start the day on a better note than having a flask full of the Monte Real Gourmet Arabica Coffee.
So, if you have not tasted this amazing, top-quality, robust coffee, you can give it a try, and you will never regret it!
Distinct Characteristics of Dominican Republic Coffees
Dominican coffees come in two variants: the high-grown coffee which has high acidity and the lower-grown variety which are relatively softer. When considered alongside Puerto Rican coffee Jamaican coffee as well as Caribbean coffee, Dominican coffee is by far the least distinguished among them, as opined by pundits.
However, a few of the high-grown variety – when processed properly – is well-balanced and usually reveal typical Caribbean coffee features.
Growing Regions of Dominican Republic Coffee
The Dominican Republic’s administration or government has instituted seven well-defined growing areas in the country. This include:
- Sierra Occidental
- Sierra Sur
- Sierra Central
Different microclimates are found within these coffee-growing regions in the Dominican Republic resulting in a range of coffee bean types with a distinct taste and aromatic profile. But the major growing areas that were designated decades ago in the country were:
The coffee trade in the Dominican Republic is reasonably moderated and deals principally with green coffee brokers as well as importers to move coffee into Canada and the United States for sale. Brokers are responsible for supplying coffee roasters who, in the long run, sell to the retailers and consumers via their own retail channels.
Some Prominent Coffee-Growing Regions in the Dominican Republic
Cibao coffee is renowned for its sweet, full-bodied, and nutty flavor. It is a high-quality coffee with low acidity but mostly unremarkable. Cibao Altura coffee – which is another variety – and is grown at high altitudes is one of the Dominican Republic’s better specialty coffees.
The Barahona coffee is also one of the few high-grown coffees in the Dominican Republic and is thought to be the finest of all the country’s gourmet coffee. it has high acidity and is much loved for its rich, full-bodied flavor. Barahona coffee can stand side by side with the best Jamaican coffees in the market today.
Bani and Ocoa Coffees
Bani and Ocoa coffees are softer and relatively mellow. They are usually compared with coffees from Haiti.
Coffee Growing and Harvest Season in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a country with a climate that is like no other especially in the entire Americas. This country gets abundant rain throughout the year, meaning that there is no distinct rainy season in this independent country on Hispaniola Island.
The long coffee growing season in the Dominican Republic is extended by the gentle and warm ocean currents as well as trade winds or the prevailing tropical wind which are significant components of the universal weather system.
All these, together with the temperate climate, allow the coffee fruit – or coffee cherry, to be precise – to mature slowly very slowly on the coffee plants, thereby resulting in top quality coffee.
Coffee plants in the Dominican Republic flower at different times as a result of the numerous high-altitude growing regions in the country. This is the primary reason and secret behind the country’s production of some of the best coffees in the world throughout the year.
Premium coffee beans are grown at 3,500 feet above sea level – and sometimes higher – on immaculately terraced mountain slopes.
The biggest harvesting season in the Dominican Republic starts from October to June. During this time of the year, coffee farmers return to the fields repeatedly to carefully hand-pick coffee cherries that are completely ripe. Therefore, the best the Dominican Republic coffees are harvested by hand and subsequently dried in the sun in bulk after arranging them on large, sunny patios.
The majority of the coffee farms in the Dominican Republic are not more than eight acres in size, and most of the coffee is shade-grown – beneath native guava trees, macadamia trees, and pine trees – and grown organically as well.
Recently, the Dominican Republic coffee farms obtained international organic certification, thereby confirming their authenticity and marketability.
The Dominican Republic Coffee Plant Varietals
At least 90 percent of the Dominican Republic’s coffee is the Coffea arabica var. typica i.e. the Typica coffee plant varietal. The remaining 10 percent of the Dominican Republic coffees are one of the numerous Arabica varietals which include:
- Caturra (Coffea arabica var. caturra)
- Bourbon (Coffea arabica var. bourbon)
- Mundo Novo (Coffea arabica hybrid Mundo Novo)
- Catuai (Coffea arabica var. catuai)
Coffee is a vital part of the Dominican republic’s culinary and social culture, and just like everything else, requires practice before you end up with a perfect Dominican coffee.
Once you follow the three essential elements to brewing a fantastic cup of Dominican coffee which are freshly roasted beans, clean equipment, water, and the right temperature, you can relax on your patio with your favorite beverage.
Roasted coffee beans should be kept in airtight containers to prevent oxidative reaction which could be deadly. Beans should also be ground before brewing them since grinding increases the surface area significantly, thereby allowing you to get more from the coffee beans in terms of flavor and taste.
Do not store your coffee beans for too long because, even though they are frozen or stored in airtight containers, they may go stale in a matter of weeks.
Remember to treat your coffee well and it will treat you well. Use a proper brewing technique that nurtures fresh ground beans such as a French press or a pour over. Stay caffeinated and drink responsibly!