It has been said that the first seedling of coffee was of the Arabica kind and was introduced in the island in early 1700 by a French immigrant.
Some coffee historians have a different account of the beginning of coffee growing in the island. They believe that its origin dates back to the post Columbus arrival in Puerto Rico. One can reasonably suspect that coffee might have been introduced in Puerto Rico by the Spanish who found the perfect climate and soil conditions in the high altitudes of th
e Cordillera Central mountain region in the late 1500's or early 1600's. However the introduction occurred, the fact remains that the coffee plant was born in Africa in an Ethiopian region (Kaffa). It spread out to Yemen, Arabia and Egypt and on to other parts of the world and later to the Pacific and Central and South America and the Caribbean. The coffee bean followed the same route except that it was in Europe that it first became a popular drink and later on throughout the rest of the western hemisphere.
Puerto Rico Coffee has always been considered of the finest quality in taste and aroma and it was coveted in Europe as the best coffee of the world. This standard was the guideline followed to compare coffees being produced elsewhere. However, due to hurricanes in the late 1800s and the subsequent transfer of the colony to the United States government, coffee production diminished and its export to Europe stopped.
During the last century and to this day, one large company controls the market in the island. It must be said that they have been accused of selling foreign coffee under the Puerto Rico label thus affecting the island'sreputation but the land has seen a renaissance of small producers and cooperatives that sell premium quality beans at a small scale.
The topography can be described as a mountainous center from east to west surrounded by the coastal areas around the perimeter of the island which are mostly flat land where coffee is not cultivated. Some of the best known coffee producing towns are Adjuntas, Ciales, Jayuya, Las Marias, Maricao, Utuado and Yauco.