For years Sandra and Israel Gonzalez have been working towards producing what we at Baraka Coffee consider to be one of the best coffees that Puerto Rico has to offer. Taking care of a farm like theirs is no easy task. Enduring hard times after experiencing on of the fiercest hurricanes in recent history, Sandra's Farms is still holding strong to a philosophy forgotten by many; a commitment to producing true "Specialty Coffee" from an island that was once known and respected by coffee enthusiasts around the world. At their farm, they place quality over quantity as Israel would say.
Located in the mountainous town of Adjuntas, Sandra's Farms stands up in the clouds, in an area perfect for coffee production. Their farm sits in the middle of a particular micro climate which extends to the neighboring town of Lares. Here, they benefit from what is known as the "Vientos Alisios" or trade winds which bring the temperatures much lower that the rest of the island. It is not unusual to see nighttime temperatures drop to the low 50's during the colder months of the year, earning Adjuntas the nickname of "The Switzerland of Puerto Rico". This nickname came from an observation that Teddy Roosevelt made during a visit to the island in the year 1906, comparing the mountain range and climate of Adjuntas to that of Switzerland. A climate such as this makes it possible for the coffee beans to mature slowly, adding complexity and acidity in the process. It also prolongs the harvest, making it possible to pick ripe coffee cherries later in the season. It is this wonderful setting and our favorable latitudinal position that makes it possible for them to achieve such great results at lower altitudes compared to other coffee producing countries.
Although these are ideal conditions to produce exceptional coffees from heirloom varieties such as Typica and Bourbon, year after year Sandra and Israel experience difficulty finding hands to work the farm, in particular coffee pickers which are essential to their operation. This lack of available labor results in hundreds (if not thousands) of pounds of coffee left unpicked, and it's tragic. After the hurricane there have been many efforts to get the farm back on track, and compensating the laborers handsomely sits at the top of the list.
Issues like this are considered by us too important to dismiss, and we want to help. In order to stay true to our mission and commitment to Puerto Rican coffee, we will be joining forces with our friends from Sandra Farms as well as Collective Perspective in order to find ways to further incentivize and ultimately attract workers to this and other neighboring farms. All in all, we are proud to say that the future looks bright for Puerto Rican Coffee.
So guys, stay tuned to our social media feeds as well as this blog to find out what we have up our sleeves. And as always remember that "Life is Too Short for Bad Coffee".