Coffee is grown commercially in the United States in two places: Puerto Rico and Hawai’i. One is a state, the other a territory. Of the two, the smallest production now is Puerto Rico. Due to the devastating hurricane of fall 2017, where much of the island was torn up and left without services of any kind, being able to find a small amount of genuine Puerto Rico grown coffee is remarkable. A lot of coffee has been grown in the center of the island, in an area called Utuado. Coffee cultivation was introduced to Puerto Rico from Martinique in 1736.
Puerto Rico was discovered by Columbus in 1493 on his second voyage and Utuado has been known since 1553, but only became a town in 1733. Its name is verified by a baptismal certificate dated 1754. In 1894 it became a city. The Utuado area is mainly mountainous, and all told is only 115 square miles in size.
Originally a Taíno center–the Taíno are an indigenous people on the island–the area became a mining region. Now it produces coffee, some tobacco and fruit. Some of the coffee grown is shade grown, planted as the under cultivation of taller trees. The coffee varietal is mainly arabica, the coffee cherries wet pulped, sun dried.
With the help of a Sacramento friend, a past employee of Corti Brothers, Emmanuel Kemiji, now a Master Sommelier and wine maker both in California and Spain, we were able to purchase 400 pounds of green arabica beans from a single “finca” or estate, that of Don Dionisio in Caguana de Utuado. With the roasting assistance of Carlos Moya, possibly the most important roaster on the island, having his own coffee shop, we have two styles of this coffee. Labeled CAFÉ 2150, one roast is just 100% Arabica, the other is made according to Emmanuel Kemiji’s idea using the most famous rum on the Island, Ron del Barrilito Three Star, to macerate the green beans before roasting. The heat of roasting removes the alcohol, but leaves the character of “la formula” the secret herb, spice, and fruit blend of the rum production as a delightful aftertaste in the coffee.
The roast of CAFÉ 2150 is a medium dark “city” roast and the Barrilito roast, slightly darker. This is the typical local taste: to taste coffee, not the charred effect of a very dark roast. Also the island tradition is to drink coffee with heated milk, not exactly like a cappuccino, but a delicious drink. You, obviously, can drink the coffee the way you like. (My first experience at a coffee finca on the island, the heating of the milk, aerating it with a large ladle, took longer to do than brewing the coffee. It was delicious!)
For the current shipment we only have 400 pounds of coffee. The roasting and packaging are done on the island to island taste. The coffee comes in an 8 ounce, foil lined paper bag with a valve and is the only quantity we will have until this fall’s harvest. If there is one! The trees have been pretty beaten up. Roasting is done just before shipping. We hope to be able to continue this project, to give some assistance to this devastated island.
If you have never tasted Puerto Rican coffee, you should try CAFÉ 2150. Try both styles! Puerto Rican coffee was once reserved for Popes and Kings. Now we also can enjoy it. This production is exclusive to Corti Brothers.
Wednesday March 28, 2018
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle tentatively ruled on a lawsuit filed in 2008 by a California-based nonprofit called the Council for Education and Research on Toxics.
The lawsuit targets Starbucks and dozens of other coffee purveyors under the state's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, which requires companies with more than 10 employees to warn their customers about the prevalence of carcinogenic and toxic chemicals in their products.
Acrylamide, a chemical compound that is produced naturally in the preparation of certain foods like the roasting of coffee beans, is on the state's list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.
“Living causes death”