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Cover of Barista Magazine April-May 2018 Edition

Puerto Rico and its Coffee Crisis..


Hurricane Maria with its devastation has been showing how colonialism and opportunism have taken a toll on the Puerto Rican's population and its land. Coffee has been no exception to this situation. After Maria's destruction, the island's coffee industry is looking to recuperate from this chaos, but it will take at least 3 1/2 years for the Coffee Growers to be able to stand up from it all. With very limited stocks of coffee beans from previous crops and absurd laws that will only allow importation of semi roasted or roasted coffee, local coffee shop owners are worried about how much longer they will be able to continue serving their clientele. It is for this reason that Stephen Hoppe of La Penúltima Café in Santurce, Puerto Rico and Xavier Alexander of Metric Coffee in Chicago, USA have come up with an ingenious solution to help the island's coffee industry after the hurricane. This is how the initiative Beans for Puerto Rico was born. Inland coffee shops have been receiving bean donations from roasters across the States to help those establishments that have been closed or affected by the storm. In the meantime the ridiculous taxation on imported beans (remember they are semi-roasted and roasted), and the prohibition to enter green beans to the island is currently facing increased discussion. There are divided opinions about the subject within the island. Those who wish to preserve and perpetuate the unequal import status, those who fear that due to the U.S. labor laws and the working costs for inland coffee production versus cheaper rates from countries where labor is less expensive,would make the competition very strong, and the growing local Specialty Coffee industry that feels that is precisely that competition what would create pressure on the native roasters and farmers to keep improving and adapting to a new enterprise. Currently the government is incentivizing coffee growers to produce varieties that have bigger yields but lower quality in taste. Local Coffee shops La Penúltima, Café Regina, Baraka and Café Comunión, amongst others, are hoping to see a new redirectioning of the Puerto Rican Coffee industry where the government will see this as an opportunity to put the national product on the world's radar and in the process promote a sustainable coffee culture inland. ***Based on the article by Alicia Kennedy "Puerto Rico Rising:Navigating Puerto Rico's Strict Green- Coffee importing laws in the wake of Hurricane Maria " Barista Magazine April-May 2018 Edition Photo by Barista Magazine