The best Puerto Rican coffee is rich and chocolatey. It’s smooth, full-bodied, and low in acidity. If that sounds like your perfect brew, you’ll want to know how to find the best Puerto Rican coffee.
What to Look for in a Puerto Rican Coffee
In your pursuit of the best Puerto Rican coffee, what should you even be looking for and taking into consideration as you search and eventually sip? There will be differences from one bag and brand to the next, but the best Puerto Rican coffees share a lot of common threads. Some things may be more pronounced in one brew than another, and vice-versa. Here are some of the things you can expect when you try Puerto Rican coffee:
- Chocolatey undertones
- Fruit (namely plum and citrus)
- Slight nuttiness, not too pronounced (especially almond)
- Caramel notes
- Rich, full body
- Not a lot of bitterness
- Low acidity
- Intense flavor
This is generally an easy coffee to drink, even for people who tend to have stomach issues from other coffees. This is because of its low acidity. The smooth, silky mouthfeel and lack of bitterness also make it quite the quaffable option.
Arabica or Robusta?
You’ll find that Puerto Rican beans are usually Arabica, not Robusta, which already gives them an edge. There’s room for more variety of flavor within the Arabica bean category, but they’re also more challenging to grow than Robusta beans and there’s a list of requirements (high elevation, sun, shade, cool air, and rich soil) that must be met in order to have a successful crop. Be sure to look for 100 percent Arabica or close. Because of Puerto Rico’s tropical climate and high altitudes, plus its rich volcanic soil, it’s no wonder amazing Arabica coffee beans are grown there. There are plenty of options to choose from when you want to try coffee from Puerto Rico, and you’re in good company if you fall in love with it. According to Discover Puerto Rico, even the popes and kings of the 18th century loved Puerto Rican coffee.
Discover the Best Puerto Rican Coffees
Here are some of the top brands of Puerto Rican coffee. Even though there are some characteristics you can expect from just about any Puerto Rican brand of coffee you buy, there will still be differences that boil down to where exactly the beans were grown, the roaster, whether its ground or whole bean and how fresh the coffee is.
Café El Coqui
This coffee is grown in the northwest region of Puerto Rico named San Sebastián. It’s been around since the mid-1980s with good reason—people love it. It’s easy to find on Amazon, so it won’t be too difficult to get your hands on this one to try. As you might expect, it’s smooth and bold, with chocolate undertones and citrus and nutty notes to round out the flavor. It’s a medium roast, so it’s a pretty safe bet for anyone who wants to experience the best of what Puerto Rican coffee has to offer.
Julian Coffee is most likely going to be one of the more expensive coffees on the list, but don’t worry, the pricing isn’t too outrageous (around $21.00 for a 10 oz. bag). It’s a medium roast with hints of chocolate and earthiness. It’s shade-grown in fertile volcanic soil. You’ll get your choice between ground coffee and whole beans, which means you have the option to get an even fresher Puerto Rican coffee experience if you like to grind your beans at home. Not to mention, coffee is roasted to order here, so again, you’ll likely be getting some of the freshest beans from Puerto Rico with this company. If buying coffee from eco-conscious companies that do their best to take good care of their workers is especially important to you, you’ll be happy to know that they use biodegradable bags and pay their coffee pickers better than anyone else in the world, other than Hawaii.
Rich, flavorful, silky, and strong, Café Lareño awakens all the senses with hints of caramel and chocolate. It’s smooth and has a creamy mouthfeel as well as low acidity, making it a treat that’s less likely than some other coffees to cause stomach pain. It’s also fairly inexpensive to buy (the more you buy at a time, the better the deal you’re likely to get) and it comes from the mountain region of Lares in the central-western area of Puerto Rico. This is a family business that was started in 1989 that has been well-loved for decades. It’s worth noting that these beans have been compared to Kona beans from Hawaii, so you may want to start with that one if you’ve ever tried and enjoyed those.
Here’s one that’s been around for quite a long time—since 1914—though it didn’t truly gain traction until the early 1960s. Now it’s known as one of the go-to, best Puerto Rican coffees. It, too, is a medium roast with intense flavor. And once again, it’s a coffee with low acidity (see the common thread among the Puerto Rican coffees?) and little to no bitter taste. It’s bold yellow, red, and black packaging makes it stand out on the shelf, but it could quickly become the standout coffee of your quest to find the best Puerto Rican coffee, too. It’s balanced, not too expensive, very finely ground (which is perfect if you like your coffee strong and means you may even get to experiment with new brewing methods), and available in different versions to meet any needs (regular, espresso, instant, and decaf).
The Alto Grande coffee is roasted a little darker than most of the others and is classified as a medium-dark roast, making it perfect for regular coffee or espresso drinks. It’s still silky and has low acidity, though. It also comes from the Lares region, like Café Loreño. Its full-body, sweetness, and chocolate and caramel tones make it a popular pick, especially in Europe, so it carries along the “wanted by popes and kings” theme. Amazon reviewers seem to agree that it’s worthy of high praise, with a 4.6-star rating and over 200 reviews. You can get this one in Nespresso capsules along with the options to buy it in whole bean (2 lb.), ground in the canister (8.8 oz), or ground in bag (6 oz.) form.
This is another smooth medium roast coffee from Puerto Rico that people generally love. It’s been around since 1925, so they’re definitely doing something right. The fine ground makes for an especially strong brew, but it still has the creamy mouthfeel you’d expect from a Puerto Rican coffee. The only downside to this one is that it could be challenging to find and there have been some reports of issues with freshness when purchasing from Amazon. It’s available in 8 or 14 oz. bags or 10 oz. cans. Decaf is also an option.
This is another smooth medium roast coffee from Puerto Rico that people generally love. It’s been around since 1925, so they’re definitely doing something right.
Several of the best and most popular Puerto Rican coffee brands still around today started in the early 1900s, and Café Rico is another one (1924). This is another one that became well-known in Europe. It’s a medium-dark roast, too, but it manages to be strong and bold without becoming bitter. Though still not expensive and definitely not the most expensive on the list, this one does cost a bit more on average than several of the other options. People love it for its smoothness and how easy it is to drink. You can get it in bags or cans, and it’s available as part of some of the variety packs on Amazon, where you get to try several Puerto Rican coffees that come in 8 oz. bags.
This coffee has become very well-known in Europe. It’s a medium-dark roast, but it manages to be strong and bold without becoming bitter.
Here’s another medium-dark bean option in a sea of medium ones, and another perfect choice if you’re looking for a versatile Puerto Rican coffee you can brew up as a normal cup of coffee or use in specialty drinks with the right equipment. You could even use this in a traditional Puerto Rican coffee with a bit of sweetened condensed milk without losing its flavor in all the sweetness. It’s made from a blend of Arabica beans and grown in the mountains of Puerto Rico. You can buy it at a reasonable price in a vacuum-sealed brick form or in a bag. It’s available on Amazon but there’s a chance you may even be able to find it for less in your local grocery store.
How to Drink Puerto Rican Coffee
First, try it black! If it’s too strong even after a couple of sips, try adding a little steamed milk or cream. Make sugar a last resort so you can detect the natural sweetness Puerto Rican coffee has. If you still want a little additional sweetness when it’s time for your next cup, you can try adding sweetened condensed milk to really turn your cup of coffee into a treat.
How to Make Puerto Rican Coffee
You could make your cup of Puerto Rican coffee the same way you make any coffee you have, but to go the traditional route, you’ll need a mesh strainer or colander, which is basically a cloth coffee filter on a wire handle.
- Start heating water in a pot. You’ll want it to be almost to the boiling point when you add the coffee, but the goal is not to let the water reach a boil.
- Take a tablespoon of ground coffee per cup of water and put it into the pot once it’s reached the desired temperature. Once you’ve tried it this way, you can add more or less to your liking. Stir it as it simmers for about a minute, then turn off the heat. Let the coffee sit in the water for another minute or two and stir it periodically.
- Now it’s time to use the colander. Position the colander over your cup or pot and pour the coffee through the fabric. The grounds will be filtered out and you’ll be left with a delicious cup of Puerto Rican coffee.
- You can take it a step further by heating about ¼ to ½ cup of milk per cup of coffee in the same pot you just used, stirring frequently. Don’t let the milk get to a boil. Add sweetener if you would like and stir it in. Pour the milk into your cup, pour the coffee in (if it’s still in a pot) and enjoy!
It tends to be sweet, rich and has notes of chocolate and caramel along with hints of fruits and nuts. It’s smooth, velvety, and low acidity.
Yes, the low acidity that most Puerto Rican coffees boast of means that it will take it easy on your stomach and you should be able to drink it without any (or as much) stomach pain as you might get from other coffees.
Yes, you can find most of the best Puerto Rican coffees on Amazon, even available via Prime, at reasonable prices. In many cases, there’s a good chance you could find it in your local grocery store for even less. Not all brands will be available at all stores, of course.
Puerto Rico is an excellent place for Arabica beans to grow—which is great news—so the best Puerto Rican coffees will be 100 percent Arabica beans.
No, it shouldn’t be. Some brands may lead to stronger coffees, but it shouldn’t be bitter. Puerto Rican coffee has a natural sweetness to it.
Here’s the abbreviated version: Start with your Puerto Rican coffee of choice and add it to almost-boiling water in a pot on the stove. Let it simmer for a minute, then turn the heat off and let it sit for about three more minutes before straining it into a cup or pot through a colander and adding your choice of warm milk and/or sweetener. Of course, you could always drink it black, too. It’s an easy-to-drink coffee choice.
How Do You Find the Best Puerto Rican Coffee?
The easy (and fun…and time-consuming) answer is to try them all and see which one you like the most. There are variety packs on Amazon that will let you purchase a few different brands at one time and compare. The prices tend to be pretty reasonable, so it’s not a huge loss if you find one you don’t love.
You can always pick up a couple of options at your local grocery store if they’re available. If they’re not there, try a variety pack from Amazon to get a taste of how varied coffee from that region can be, even though they share so many characteristics like boldness, sweetness, notes of chocolate and caramel, and low acidity.
Start with the preferences you know you love in other coffees you’ve tried—like strong notes of chocolate, detectable nuttiness, medium or medium-dark roast, or even what the company is doing to improve the world and its employees’ lives—and narrow your selection down using the notes above.
Crystal Schwanke is completely obsessed with coffee and enjoys “traveling the world” with the help of the magical beans. She drags her family to every coffee shop she can squeeze into the trip when they travel and has an embarrassing amount of coffee-making gear vying for space in her kitchen.