COFFEE FARM TOURS
At one time Puerto Rico was the 3rd largest producer of Coffee in the world. Many events from wars, weather and politics have changed the size of Puerto Rico's impact on the coffee industry, but at the high end markets, Puerto Rico has some great options.
All of these coffee farms/plantations have tours or events of some sort or another and the drive for any choice is an hour to an hour and a half. Most of the plantations in Puerto Rico are clustered in the mountains with Hacienda Muños as the exception. All of these can be found on Google Maps, Be sure to zoom in, not all turns are instinctive.
Sandra Farms: Put this in your GPS and follow closely. Your first major turn will be Highway 10 north just before the PONCE sign. Highway signage is not guaranteed. Continue north on 10 to Adjuntas where the roads become narrow and steep as you climb to the top of the ridge. You will know when you've arrived at Sandra Farms with a final, and nearly 180 degree turn and the barn building directly ahead.
This is a small plantation owned and run by Isreal and his wife Sandra with a a few employees at pick & plant times of the year. Be sure to make prior reservations by phone or email: 787-409-8083. The tour fee is $15 and lasts about 2 hours. This is a one-time fee as you can return again and again for the tours for free when you bring others with you. There is generally a choice between an 11 am and a 2 pm tour. Israel does the farm tour and Sandra often has more to add while you are enjoying coffee from their expansive deck. The coffee is outstanding as are the views and the comradery. Besides coffee they also have custom chocolates. For something special, go for the ones with the whole coffee beans.
Hacienda Buena Vista, we made an unscheduled stop here and were delighted by the grounds and the kindness of the people. This property is no longer an operating coffee plantation, but you do see remnants of what once was and can join a tour of the grounds with a walk to a waterfall. The setting is lovely and it's current use is as an important ecology center. My recommendation is to look closely at this website and if they have an event or tour scheduled during your visit to Puerto Rico, make arrangements to go. We were impressed by how many things they offer for free. Do not be shy about booking a tour in Spanish, people love to share, someone will help you understand what is being said, Be open and interested!
Hacienda Tres Angeles has the same starting directions to Adjuntas as Sandra Farms, and a bit beyond, then heads up the opposite mountain slope, use your map app. This place has excellent coffee paired with a great view, nice setting and some good, simple food. Victor particularly enjoyed the soup, a large portion. While the tour is only given on Saturdays at 10 am, the cafe/restaurant is open F, S & S. Reserve the tour in advance by email or phone, 787-360-0019. Here you can purchase their coffee in custom artisan packaging worthy of future gift giving.
Cafe Oro de Puerto Rico: This is further north after Hacienda Tres Angeles if you are heading towards Isabela and is another place to stop for a tour. We haven't done this tour yet, but they have an open window to the production floor from the restaurant and it's big. This is huge production compared to Sandra Farms. and worth looking at. I liked the coffee a lot. This product of Puerto Rico was only just started a handful of years ago and has experienced great early success and can be purchased in any local grocery store, many retailers and online. At this young age, I think they have a lot more coming our way that is going to be impressive in the coffee world! Give them a jingle for the tour schedule. They also have dinner/coffee events. Might be fun!
Hacienda Muñoz is quite a different direction. To get here you will go through Caguas on Highway 52, then South-East on 30 and exit onto 203,then a left onto 931 and a right onto 181. This place is hopping with 2 restaurants and a coffee shop with sandwiches and the tour. We ate in the "high end " option that had good food and reasonable prices. The other option was a burger place with rock n'roll music. Tickets for the tour are purchased at the coffee shop for $15 pp. Every other tour is in English, though this seems to be somewhat flexible. We purchased a Spanish tour because we didn't want to wait the extra half hour for English, Victor promised to interpret.... anyway, we got a private tour, just the two of us in English and we started before the Spanish tour.
The coffee here is grown at only 400 feet elevation and the difference in flavor between this and the mountain grown coffee is notable, but it's a fun stop and easy to get to without any crazy mountain drives. There is no need for reservations, check the website for tour times, go early for lunch or enjoy dining afterwards.
There are yet more Coffee Tours and I will update this as we explore them. A trip to the North Shore (another great itinerary) can incorporate a few of these coffee tours along the route. It helps break up the ride... Perhaps plan an overnight on the north shore to get all the fun activities in.
Bring: camera, binoculars, a cap and sun screen.