February 5th, 2008
Above: Coffee Drying operation in the Village of Travesia
Coffee in the Dominican Republic, simply, is a way of life. My wife and I visited many friends in their houses during our two week trip. During every visit to a friend’s house we would be served a delicious cup of Dominican coffee. If you’ve read my last post, you know coffee also comes along with every meal. Needless to say, we drank a lot of coffee while we were there!
How it’s brewed:
Coffee is brewed in an Italian-style espresso maker they call a “Greca.” A little bit of since electricity there is fairly inconsistent — we had electricity about 1/2 the time we water goes in the bottom of the brewer. Some ground coffee goes into the “filter” area and it’s all screwed together. Almost everyone there uses a gas (propane) stove top to cook were there on average. The water is heated and boils through the filter (from underneath) and then up through a little spout into a reservoir.
How it’s served:
Once the water is all boiled into the reservoir it is removed from the heat and often poured into a serving carafe. About one-half cup of sugar is added for each pot (about 2-3 cups). This makes for one sweet cup of coffee! For drinking, you are served one very small cup (about the size of an espresso shot). I really enjoyed sitting on someone’s porch, taking in all the delicious smells, sights and sounds of the Dominican Republic while sipping on my sweet cup of “cafè.”
Often times the ground coffee is mixed with nutmeg, cinnamon and/or other spices during brewing for an extra layer of flavor. It is delicious!
Growing and Roasting:
Fortunately for me, I had the opportunity to visit a village where coffee is grown and roasted! The growing seemed fairly normal in the village of Travesia (a small village in the mountains above the city of Jarabacoa), but the roasting was quite unique.
First off, they grow it under the banana and orange trees all along the hill sides. As we were walking up the trail to the village I saw coffee growing everywhere along the trail. It’s picked and husked using a small husk-removing machine (see photo) . Afterward it’s dried on a cement slab under a plastic covering. It is raked into ridges about twice a day (ridges are alternated between length-wise and width-wise).
To Roast in the village they use a clay-oven top called a “fugòn.” It’s basically a clay base and sides with a small fire (see photos). The coffee and unrefined (natural cane — still brown) sugar added at the same time to a huge cast-iron pot. Its stirred with a wooden spoon and caramelized.
My theory is that this is done because the fugòn and wooden spoon can’t get the beans evenly roasted so the caramelization hides the roast. The end result is a really black bean (on the outside) but a delicious flavor when ground and brewed! I brought some home and it’s sitting in my freezer now! YUM! My mother-in law once brought back about 10 pounds on her carry-on of this stuff and we drank it all year.
I hope you’re enjoying this series on the Dominican Republic. Feel free to ask me questions on the comment sections or just leave comments.