Home » Puerto Rico » Day 5 Coffee and Rum (and crazy roads)

Day 5 Coffee and Rum (and crazy roads)

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Today we packed up all our things, enjoyed one last breakfast in Fajardo and prepared to travel to the West side of the island. On our way, we made a stop at the Bacardi Rum Distillery. The tour began soon after we arrived. We learned about the history of the Bacardi family and the origin of their signature rum.

The tour also covered the run making process and demonstrated how to make a couple mixed drinks. Noting the absence of sugar cane being grown in Puerto Rico, we learned that the sugar cane used in the distillery is mostly sourced from the Dominican Republic and Brazil. The tour ended in the gift shop, of course, and the bar. We all received drinking tickets! Don’t worry it’s the good kind. Two free drinks for everyone, except for Dr. Jones, she was driving.

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Today we packed up all our things and prepared to travel to the West side of the island. On our way, we made a stop at the Bacardi Rum Distillery. The tour began soon after we arrived. We learned about the history of the Bacardi family and the origin of their signature rum. It is interesting how in spite of the Cuban Revolution, the Bacardi family persisted to raise their brand into the most successful rum in the world.

The tour also covered the run making process and demonstrated how to make a couple mixed drinks. Noting the absence of sugar cane being grown in Puerto Rico, we learned that the sugar cane used in the distillery is mostly sourced from the Dominican Republic and Brazil. We had the opportunity to compare the variations within the various rums through smelling the rums. Then we got a lesson in the history of rum cocktails including why a rum and coke is called a Cuba Libre, the origins of the mojito and why a daiquiri is called a daiquiri. The tour ended in the gift shop, of course, and the bar. We all received drinking tickets! Don’t worry it’s the good kind. Two free drinks for everyone, except for Dr. Jones, she was driving.

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As we traveled out of the eastern part of the island, the ground began to flatten.  We noticed a few Holstein cows and a couple pastures. After a while the mountains began to reappear and we drove on some treacherous and crazy roads, winding all the way down the mountain. Peaking out the van windows we could see vast plantain trees and coffee plants down the mountainside into the valley.  We were looking for a coffee farm and we found one!

Café Oro is a coffee processing plant that gets coffee fruit from many local farmers. One of the employees willingly gave us a tour of the whole place and explained the coffee making process from hand picking to roasting. Thomas Marten, one of our chaperones, did a fine job translating because our guide only spoke Spanish.

The coffee they make is of extremely high quality! The employee giving us the tour is originally from Columbia and controls the quality of Café Oro’s final product. He has spent his whole life immersed in coffee culture and considers himself a professional. He provided us an insight into the production of coffee from harvest to a cup of joe. He shared his views of government subsidies and how they have pros and cons for coffee production. Our group purchased coffee from the plant. With many “Gracias’s” exchanged we headed towards Mayaguez.

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[Posing for a quick picture in front of the grinding and packaging machines with our guide and the owner of Cafe Oro]

We arrived safely at our hotel and had a nice Puerto Rican dinner. We are looking forward to meeting the folks at Illinois Crop Improvement Association and learning about current agriculture research this directly benefits the Midwest tomorrow.

Morgan Schulte, Sophomore Forest Hydrology

Breese, IL

Daniel Suess, Freshman Agribuisiness Economics and Political Science

Greenville, IL

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