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Siglo XIX gourmet coffee brand looking to the Internet market

Growing demand for gourmet coffee good news for local producers


May 13, 2005
Copyright © 2005 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Demand for gourmet coffee is on the rise worldwide, creating a potential market for Puerto Rican coffee growers. Siglo XIX gourmet coffee producer has developed a marketing plan to sell its brand in several countries in Europe and Asia through the Internet, said Iván Irizarry Pietri, owner & manager of Hacienda Las Vegas in Adjuntas, the brand’s producer.

While prices for commodity coffee have been in a slump, prices for gourmet coffee have been jumping due to skyrocketing demand worldwide, Irizarry said. "Puerto Rico coffee farmers are already recognized internationally as high-quality producers; we just have to build on that," Irizarry said. The marketing plan would call the attention of potential buyers in Europe and Asia to the company’s website, which will be able to accept orders. "Both European and Asian consumers are willing to pay a lot more for a cup of coffee than consumers in Puerto Rico," Irizarry noted.

Siglo XIX gourmet coffee is currently sold in Pueblo Supermarkets and will soon be available in Supermercados Grande. "We have preliminary approval [from Grande] and are working out details such as where the product will appear on shelves," Irizarry said. Limited amounts of Siglo XIX are exported to Spain and Germany, he revealed.

Siglo XIX is grown on some 42 acres in the mountain town of Adjuntas on Hacienda Las Vegas, a 22,000-tree coffee farm that produces only the finest arabica beans, Irizarry said. The farm’s premier product is currently available over the Internet on, for $10.59 per 10-ounce bag, plus shipping. The website belongs to San Juan-based Macondo Products Corp.

Other Puerto Rico specialty coffee brands are Yauco Selecto, Alto Grande, Encantos Platino, Finca Cialitos, El Coquí, Puerto Rico, Garrido, Pilón, and San Sebastián. Most are also sold online. In the 2003-2004 coffee harvest, Puerto Rico produced 225,000 quintales (hundredweight or 100 pounds) of coffee and exported 23,823 quintales , according to Puerto Rico Agriculture Department figures.

Gourmet coffee is distinguished from commodity coffee by the high quality control and elements used in every stage of production from picking, handling, and processing to roasting and packaging. "We try to avoid using harsh chemicals on the plants," Irizarry said. Care is taken to select only completely ripened beans for the process.

The beans are sun dried, as opposed to being dried in heaters or tumblers, to avoid contamination by fuels and to allow the fuller drying process provided by solar radiation. The beans are sifted to eliminate those beans without the appropriate density to ensure none of the beans burn when they are cooked. Roasting is done in small batches for higher quality. Finally, the coffee is deposited in plastic-based packages, which protect the coffee from humidity better than paper packaging.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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