tazza piccola
freccie lingia
Francesco Sanapo
To the origins... Puerto Rico

Before starting to tell about my travel, I have to do a little step back. It was in 2009 that I met this marvelous coffee for the first time; I remember the moment when the test sample arrived as it was yesterday, as well as the first taste… This is what I wrote on my diary back then

27th November 2009: test roast for filter coffee and for first profile for espresso

29th November 2009: filter taste - Porto Rico Hacienda San Pedro

30th November 2009: filter taste – Porto Rico Hacienda San Pedro

1st December 2009: tastes for espresso – Porto Rico Hacienda San Pedro

Impressions: no astringency, huge body, long persistence.

Flavors: dry fruit (pine nuts, almonds), chocolate, caramel.

Conclusion: this is my coffee for the Italian barista Championship 2010.

All this to let you understand the reason why I went to visit and to know personally this fantastic coffee.

I arrive at San Juan’s airport (Porto Rico) at 2pm and, after a few hours, I meet Rebecca Atienza, fourth generation of the family who owns the Hacienda San Pedro. We organize the departure for the next day, our final destination is Jajuya (a town located in the central region of the Island), a place extraordinarily immersed in nature; green is the main color in the area.

The next morning, we leave at 8am sharp and after about two hours of travel we reach Hacienda San Pedro; I’m immediately hit, almost blinded, by the brightness of the colors surrounding me, my smell is

intoxicated by intense perfumes, my legs are shaking… I’m so excited to live these 5 days in the finca, the same that provided me with the product for my victory in 2010.

5am, life in the farm starts early, you have to work when the sun doesn’t hit too hard yet. We walk up the slopes of the mountain and we stop by an area which is fully cultivated with the Bourbon variety (for those who don’t know, bourbon is a natural mutation of the more widespread Typica, and it was called this way

because it was born in the formerly known as Île Bourbon, nowadays Reunion Island. Each tree of this variety produces 20% more product than the Typica variety, but they are more rare. The fruit is particularly dense and the maturation of the cherry is quite fast; the leaves are larger than Typica variety and the grain/seed is slightly smaller (about 0.95 cm of length, 0.70 cm of width and 0.36 cm of thickness). This coffee maintains a good constancy during the roasting process. We start to harvest: the group is formed by Roberto Atzienza, Rebecca Atienza, Paola Masciullo and me, besides the group of local harvesters, who ar

Our daily harvest finishes around 11am, bringing back down just 6 bags, but very well selected ones.e all ready to pick up only the mature cherries, because according to the coffee tastes previously done with cherries with different levels of maturation, we have realized that the best cup is the one whose cherrieshave reached the highest level of maturation. This means that the harvest will be very slow and poor. But we’ve got a mission and we’re willing to do anything to accomplish it.

I’m so happy about it all, because I can assure you that spending a day with Roberto Atienza is like attending a whole week of training course. Each minute is filled with useful information, and every single word he says underlines his passion for this product: during the harvest we’ve chatted about many different things, which enlightened me on many matters.

5.30am, second day, still there on top of the world, it’s not an absurdity, I feel I can admire the beauty of the world from the highest spot – I know that technically it’s not true, but this is absolutely my sensation - I have a smile on my face and I can’t take it off, I keep repeating to myself that what I’m living is not a dream, but a wonderful reality. THE ORIGINS OF MY JOB! Harvested a total amount of 4 bags. 5.10am, third day… I’m sleepy! I couldn’t sleep all night because I was distracted by the sound of the coquì. You don’t know what a coquì is? Discover it yourselves…


However, I have to “work” anyway, Mr. Roberto is waiting for me together with the expert harvesters: by admiring their smile, I forget that I haven’t slept and I’m immediately ready to follow them, full of energy, their energy! Their motto is “Always start your day smiling, leaving the bad thoughts at home”, because it’s there, in the plantation, that people indulge to the magic of this place.

5am, fourth day. The trees start to run out of mature fruits, the harvest proceeds slowly and it’s harder, because you have to be careful not to miss the mature cherries. The thing that affected me during this day was Roberto Atienza’s thought:: “I could expand the surface of my finca for several hectares, I could grow coffee in the deep heart of the forest, and that would mean deforesting to leave some room for the cultivation of coffee, but I will never do it. The forest is our richness, it gives us water, it makes our coffee marvelous, and it is wonderful also because it hosts many different animal species.” A lesson for life! Total harvest amount of the day: 4 bags.

5.30 am, fifth and last day of my trip. We check if any mature cherry is left on the trees, but it looks we’ve been quite good the previous days; for a further harvest we’ll have to wait a few more days. For this reason, we decide to have a walk around the whole finca, where Roberto and Rebecca Atienza explain to me the different varieties of Arabic that they grow. A very interesting lesson.

Time to say goodbye to everyone in the afternoon, and to prepare the bags. Destination San Juan, the capital of Porto Rico, where the students of the University of Porto Rico (the oldest university in the country) are waiting for me for a lesson about coffee, Italian style of this drink and about the profession of barista. This is a wonderful experience too!

This is coffee!

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