A Heart and Soul-Coffee Experience and More
By: N. Michelle Rodríguez Amadeo
Issue: December 2016
Over 20 years ago, I met someone whose love for coffee impressed me. Her passion toward coffee was beyond drinking appetizing coffee at any time during the day. For her, drinking coffee meant to sit down among her loved ones to talk—to share memories and ideas. Actually, whenever I joined her to indulge ourselves by drinking good or excellent coffee, I felt that time stopped. Any worries or stress surprisingly vanished. Calm and peace prevailed during my dear friend’s coffee ritual. Besides coffee being a driver for great conversations among loved ones, I learned that drinking (or properly drinking) this tasty beverage involves relaxation. In sum, my pal taught me how to make the best out of drinking coffee.
My friend’s interest toward what I describe as the “heart and soul-coffee experience” evolved from her childhood experiences with her grandmother, who had the sacred tradition to visit cafés in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, and enjoy her cup of coffee while talking to her grandchildren. The cafés as places of meeting for social purposes and to interchange ideas have captivated my pal throughout the years.
Though my friend has been delighted by the ambience of diverse cafés and liked good coffee served in different travel destinations, she has always been very proud of the coffee cultivated in Puerto Rico. After visiting numerous countries, she believes that the best coffee she has ever tasted is the high-quality coffee cultivated, processed and served in Puerto Rico, considering the particular sugars and acidity characteristics of well-roasted coffee beans product of ripe coffee fruits.
My pal’s childhood experiences with her grandmother and her endless interest to promote Puerto Rico’s first-rate coffee and do her bit to foster Puerto Rico’s local economy led her to establish a café-restaurant in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Seven years ago, Caficultura was born, and my long-lasting friend, Tamara Sosa Pascual, accomplished one of her dreams.
Caficultura is the perfect place where locals and travelers may drink excellent coffee in an ambience that attracts conversation.
While having a pleasant conversation with my close friend, I learned that Caficultura’s proprietary coffee is cultivated and roasted, considering Caficultura’s specifications. For instance, Arabica coffee is cultivated at a height of over 2,500 feet, the diameter of coffee beans, resulting from ripe coffee fruits, is around 17-20 millimeters, and the coffee beans are medium roasted, which results in a touch of chocolatey flavor, according to Tamara, Caficultura’s founder and General Director. Tamara emphasized that Caficultura’s baristas corroborate that the coffee beans to be ground meet the café-restaurant’s quality standards. Besides checking the size of the coffee beans, the baristas verify if the beans are roasted by the supplier the previous week and if these show the appropriate brown color and do not look sweaty. Tamara highlighted that the coffee beans must be shiny, clarifying that these may look slightly oily, but not sweaty. Also, she stated that the coffee beans are tasted to make sure that these are not over roasted or that their quality has not been affected due to humidity or changes in temperature. This certified barista said that high-quality coffee beans taste good for those who have a tasteful palate.
Even though she loves Caficultura coffee, Tamara recognizes that other coffee businesses in Puerto Rico are also offering their customers high-quality coffee. She proudly stated that there is no turning back in regards to Puerto Rico’s first-rate coffee.
Besides serving one of the best coffees I have ever tasted, Caficultura strives to represent Tamara’s philosophy about drinking coffee. This café-restaurant invites you to sit down, drink coffee and relax while accompanied by family or friends. Even if you are a solo visitor, you will be attracted to this café. A beautiful chandelier and round tables with light gray marble tabletops stand out in the main salon. Though the whole restaurant’s ambience is cozy, the inner patio is perfect for more intimate conversations.
Tamara’s love for and pride in Puerto Rico’s coffee, her visits to cafés in various European countries, mainly cafés in Austria and France, and her mission to uphold the cultural experience of drinking coffee in a café, have influenced Caficultura’s decor and ambience. This entrepreneur explained that Caficultura’s decor is the result of a fusion of three elements: (1) the look and feel of a classic European café in the main salon, shown by the round tables and their light gray marble tabletops, French-style café chairs, and dark brown cushioned and embossed leather benches, (2) an allusion to Puerto Rico’s coffee haciendas during the XIX century by means of an elegant chandelier resembling one of that era, and (3) an indirect reference to Puerto Rico’s countryside, which is perceived in the inner patio decorated with fresh agricultural products, wooden tables built in Puerto Rico, and plants. Even though this café’s inner patio has always had wooden tables, Tamara noted that this area was recently remodeled according to a design proposed by one of Caficultura’s cooks.
In addition to promoting Puerto Rican coffee, Caficultura also has the mission to foster Puerto Rico’s agriculture in general. To the extent possible, this café-restaurant promotes the main use of local agricultural products, as emphasized by Tamara. The agricultural products exhibited in the inner patio are some of the ones that compose many of Caficultura’s dishes. Avocados, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, oranges, plantains, breadfruits, and coconuts are among the fruits that you may savor while tasting Caficultura’s food, depending on the harvest’s season. Tamara’s favorite dish made of local products, among others, is the “Torre de Pechuga de Pollo”, a tower-shaped salad that comprises chicken breast, guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream, served with fried green plantain slices. Based on the harvest’s season, this dish may be served with fried breadfruit slices.
Locals and travelers may also benefit from Caficultura’s all-day breakfast menu. Ever since this café-restaurant opened its doors to the public, my favorite breakfast dish has been the Brioche-bread coconut milk French toasts with artisanal pineapple marmalade and fresh coconut shavings. These French toasts with tropical fruits flavors are spectacularly yummy.
Delish coffee, scrumptious food and positive vibes in a place where you may share memories or ideas with loved ones or other travelers, is what you may expect in Caficultura. Whether you are a coffee lover or like to eat good food, this is must-do visit if you are in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Photograph by: N. Michelle Rodríguez Amadeo
Coffee photographed: Caficultura’s coffee. In order to honor the Taíno indigenous people, ecotreasures requested a latte art with Taíno’s symbolic representation of the sun.