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Perking Up - Caribbean Coffee is Always a Favorite

by: Jennifer Smith

While the popularity of Colombian coffee is no secret, many countries in and around the Caribbean also produce this flavorful bean. Most coffee-growing islands in the Caribbean, however, do not produce quantities large enough to export on a wide scale, like the growing operations in Central and South America, which serve markets all over the world.

Growing History

Coffee was discovered in Africa, but today this drink is popular worldwide. It was passed from the Ethiopians to the Ottoman Turks of Constantinople and even to Pope Clement VIII in Italy, who is said to have baptized the drink. There are many variations in the story of how the crop was transplanted to the Caribbean, but the region's land turned out to be ideal for growing this unique plant.

The type of coffee plant most often grown in the Caribbean region is called "Arabica" and was developed from plants grown in Saudi Arabia, hence the name. Coffee can be grown in many different climates, but each climate will create beans with subtle taste variations.

High altitudes are particularly important when growing coffee, which means that mountainous islands are usually better-known for their coffee than those with more level terrain. The higher the altitude, the more time the coffee plant will require to mature, but beans grown under these conditions are full and dense and yield the richest flavor.

Similarly, the geography of many Caribbean islands has played an important part in creating delicious coffee. Warm weather and volcanic soils combine to create perfect growing conditions for these plants, and every island processes the results differently.

Top Island Producers

Caribbean islands are known for sun and sand, so some visitors overlook their mountainous interiors. Others enjoy hiking and climbing through these rougher regions. But whatever visitors long to do on their Caribbean vacations, they can anticipate a stimulating beverage to enjoy alongside the activity.

Jamaica is perhaps one of the best-known producers of Caribbean coffee. Its Blue Mountain area produces full-bodied and highly aromatic beans. However, if you're visiting Jamaica, be wary of roadside vendors selling impostor Blue Mountain coffee. Still, true-blue coffee makes a great souvenir for those who love the drink.

The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is also a great island to visit for coffee, but most Puerto Rican coffee is consumed on the island. Some of the more popular Puerto Rican coffees are known for their creamy taste. Aficionados in particular may want to taste these island brews while taking in a bit of the countryside since the drink can be difficult to come by offshore.

The island of Hispaniola is home to two countries, and each produces fine coffee. The Dominican Republic is one of the Caribbean's largest coffee producers, and Haiti is enjoying a chance to make a name for itself as well. Fans of the dark roast should try the sweet Dominican coffee, while Haitian blends offer a more mellow taste, with plenty of flavors to suit many palates.

For those outside the United States, you may be able to find imported Cuban coffee, which is known for a heavy body and particularly fine dark roasts. However, these coffee products are nearly always exported to Europe and Japan. A word to the wise �V don't be confused by Cuban-style coffee, which is usually not the same thing as coffee from Cuba.

Although these island producers will never have the space to grow as much coffee as you'll find in Central and South America, their island blends each offer something unique. So try a cup of something special �V coffee from the Caribbean.

About the Author

Jennifer Smith writes for,, and other Segisys travel Web sites.

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