Are you a lover of the finer things in life? Perhaps a delicious dark chocolate, or a rich cup of coffee heated to just the right temperature do the trick for you. We discovered the most welcoming and picturesque coffee plantation while on Instagram, and stopped by for a look around. What happened next, was a pleasant surprise.
The drive to Sandra Farms is exciting, lots of twists and turns and it's a trek up into the mountains. By the time you arrive, you're literally in the clouds! The owners Israel and Sandra are the most warmhearted individuals we'd come across in a long time. We arrived unannounced (though it's recommended to book a tour before you're arrival) and we're greeted with a smile.
We sat down with them on their patio, and learned all about the history of their property and the coffee industry. They actually shared some soup one of their neighbors had brought over, which was delicious. You know how some conversations just go so smoothly you wish they'd never end? It was like that.
After a while, we took a walk around the property and Israel showed us their coffee plants. They were loaded with coffee cherries, all thriving and well on their way to being picked at peak ripeness. This wasn't always the case, as after Hurricane Maria in 2017 much of their coffee supply was destroyed.
We learned of the scope of the damage, which took out some of the buildings on the property unfortunately. It was mind blowing seeing the level of damage, and also how much they have bounced back in such a short period of time. They are definitely open for business and working towards the future.
The property also boasts a range of other crops such as oranges, lemons, passionfruit, plantains, etc. Everywhere you turn there's some sort of edible plant growing delicious fruits or vegetables.
We headed back up to the house and they prepared coffee for us to try, which was made with love. It was smooth and delicious, and paired with some of their own chocolate! You see, after the hurricane when their crops were damaged, they had much less coffee beans than in the past. They had to do something, and fast. So, they began making mouth watering dark chocolate covered roasted coffee beans. I can't even begin to describe how delicious they are. I am not even a fan of dark chocolate and I absolutely loved it. The subtle crunch of the coffee bean inside is comparable to what a nutty chocolate would be like, but with a familiar taste of coffee.
There's one with a full coffee bean inside, a version with bits of coffee, a dark chocolate turmeric bar, and even a cigar inspired dark chocolate treat that's perfect as an after dinner treat. They sell coffee as well of course. Feel free to schedule a tour of their property and leave with an arm full of chocolate and coffee, you won't be disappointed.
We ended up staying all day, and Sandra showed us around the orange grove, where we got to pick different variations of juicy tangerines, clementines, oranges and lemons. Laughing into the night, we enjoyed conversation about their lives and how they came to live on a coffee plantation up in the clouds. Getting us to leave their marvelous property was like pulling teeth, we nearly stayed the night!
The good news about that is they actually have a super cute Airbnb on the property, just a short drive away from the main house in a secluded area. I highly recommend staying for a night or two to fully experience the magnificence of this place.
History of Coffee in Puerto Rico
At the end of the 19th century, Puerto Rico produced so much coffee that it became the world’s sixth largest exporter of coffee. In the 20th century, coffee was grown in Rincon and similar coastal latitudes, which are less ideal for quality coffee beans than the famous central mountains. The central mountains, areas like Adjuntas in the high cordillera, are over 3,000 ft altitude and perfect for coffee production.
Perhaps the pride Puerto Ricans hold for their coffee was the basis for such record production. Even today, when caficultura suffers from scarcity of labor, there is no slope too steep for coffee trees. Puerto Rico’s cool mountainous climate, with temperatures that can go down into the 40’s, is an ideal setting for great coffee. Experts talk about beans grown at the highest slopes as offering the very best cup of coffee.
Climate is not the only variable in the production of great coffee: varieties, farming methods, and great care in processing and preparation of beans are just as important. Adherence to proven principles and attention to details are vital to distinguish great coffee as “special”. Coffee lovers are discovering Puerto Rico’s Sandra Farms Specialty Coffee - The " Other " American coffee. They produce their specialty coffee meticulously in the central mountains of Puerto Rico. The quality of their coffee depends in great part on the unique micro-climate created by altitude, trade-winds and the craggy mountains of the cordillera central.
Overall, the experience at Sandra Farms in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico was a great one. Sandra and Israel have something really special, and their passion for their property oozes out of them. We would love to place some Karma Honey Project bee hives on their property in the future, as their past colonies were sadly destroyed in the hurricane. We'll keep you updated on the progress of that, and our next trip to Sandra Farms in the near future!