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Dominican Coffee


Coffee is a deeply entrenched Dominican tradition. The island has been producing coffee since seeds were brought over by Spanish colonist almost 300 years ago. It is at the center of common hospitality, family ties and good conversations. more...


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Coffee is a deeply entrenched Dominican tradition. The island has been producing coffee since seeds were brought over by Spanish colonist almost 300 years ago. It is at the center of common hospitality, family ties and good conversations. So much so, that at any time of the day (or night for that matter) you can hear the sizzle and smell the aroma of this divine liquid rising up through the percolator of the Dominican coffee maker, called a ‘greka’.

What makes Dominican coffee so exquisite? Basically three elements contribute to the perfect coffee grounds: 1) where the beans are grown, 2) climate that produces a long growing seasons and 3) artisanal process.

Where the beans are grown
The Dominican Republic boasts some of the most wonderful mountain ranges that provide multilevel growing fields. The high altitude soil is perfect for growing the Arabica coffee bean. The best beans grow at 1 km above sea level and higher. Natural canopies are abundant in the mountains, creating full shade heavens for the coffee plants to thrive in. A coffee plant starts producing fruit about four years after it is planted.

Climate
The steady rainfall all year round extends the growing season in the Dominican Republic. This consistent precipitation paired with the warm tropical ocean breezes allow the coffee fruit to ripen slowly on the plant. It takes about 9 months for coffee blossoms to transform into ruby red coffee berries. When the berries are ripe they become shiny, plump and firm.

The picking process
Each coffee berry is hand-picked at just the right time. The berries that are still not ready are left on the plant until they are fully ripened. The same coffee plants can be combed through several times all throughout the long growing season, yielding berries selected at the ideal ripeness each time. Then, usually with 24 hours of being picked, the berries are run through a wet mill. This washes the berries and separates the good berries from the unusable ones, with a simple sink and float method. Next, the beans are fermented and dried in the hot Caribbean sun.

The results
These important factors in the coffee growing process all contribute to making 300,000 – 500,000 bags delicious of dark roast Arabica beans each year. Surprisingly a very low percentage of these beans are exported. Most of them are sipped up by happy Dominicans that don’t even realize what a coffee connoisseur’s dream they get in their breakfast mug each morning. The lack of bitterness that usually accompanies most dark roast set the Dominican Arabica coffee apart in a class of its own.

Almost everybody adds a few heaping teaspoons of sugar to each cup. Around half of the Dominican population brews their coffee grounds with nutmeg. In fact, in almost any corner store –called colmados- you can buy a small grater especially for grating the nutmeg nuts into coffee grounds. Others like to add cinnamon or chocolate to their cup of Joe. Regardless of what is added, the rich earth tones of Dominican coffee shine through and are sure to tantalize your taste buds.

Make sure to try some Dominican coffee on your next trip. A package of Dominican coffee grounds makes a great souvenir for any coffee lover, too!

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