The best coffee in the Caribbean is grown on the high slopes of the Dominican Republic mountain range. Dominican Republic coffee is nutty, rich and sweetened with notes of chocolate and tart berries. While still relatively unheard of in the US, you’re really missing out if you don’t give this fine coffee a try for yourself.
Recommended Dominican Republic Coffee
- Country of Origin – Dominican Republic, Caribbean
- Regions – Cibao, Barahona, Noroeste, Neyba, Sierra Sur, Sierra Occidental, and Sierra Centra
- Best Known Growers – Café Santo Domingo and other small-scale farmers
- Altitude – 600 to 1,450 meters
- Harvest – September to May
- Milling Process – wet processed, naturally fermented, sun-dried
- Aroma – rich, nutty and sweet
- Flavor – nutty and sweet with hints of chocolate and berries
- Body – bold and full, well-balanced
- Acidity – low and smooth
- Certification – unofficially organic.
About the Bean
Arabica beans were brought to the Dominican Republic in 1735, slightly earlier than Central America, and quickly took hold of the country. The inhabitants of this Caribbean island drink a lot of coffee – less than 20% of coffee grown is exported!
The high elevations and tropical climate make this country a haven for coffee plants. There are 4 different mountain ranges with 25 separate coffee growing areas within the major growing regions.
Currently, most Dominican Republic coffee is grown and processed together or sent abroad for processing – but this is set to change with the government making efforts to refine coffee production and encourage the growth of specialty beans in areas of particularly high elevation.
The vast majority of Arabica beans grown here are Typica variety, but you may also find Caturra, Catuia, Bourbon and Mundo Novo. What really stands out is that nutty and cocoa sweet flavor.
The Café Santo Domingo coffee blend that we’re currently recommending has been grown by the Perello family for over 60 years. It’s not well known in the US but many vacationers who’ve visited the Dominican Republic and tried this coffee have been instantly hooked by its supreme smoothness and rich nutty tones.
Much like the Honduras coffee we recommend, the Dominican Republic beans can be very dark and bold once brewed. As such, we recommend sticking to a medium roast for these beans – a darker roast will over-power the subtle sweet chocolate and berry notes.
About the Region
The low-acidity beans used in the Café Santo Domingo coffee blend will be plucked from the estates at lower elevations, particularly in the Cibao region. Coffee grown at higher elevations in regions such as Barahona will have a much higher acidity and a heavier body. The finest beans are grown at heights above 1000 meters. All will have a nutty and rich flavor, absorbed from the nutritious soil and tropical climate.
All major coffee growing regions are located on the slopes of the mountain ranges in the Dominican Republic, where it’s bright and sunny with very naturally fertile soil. Rainfall here is fairly consistent all year round but we are starting to see some climate changes, bringing heavier rainfall at points throughout the year and longer dry spells. This will almost certainly impact the fine coffee grown here if it becomes a permanent trend, as currently coffee is harvested consistently all year round.
Almost all the small coffee estates that make up the Dominican Republic’s coffee growing industry are at least partially shade-grown and maintain organic growing practices. Although finding a USDA Organic certification isn’t easy, you can rest assured knowing that in general, there are high standards maintained across the entire Dominican Republic when it comes to growing coffee!
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.