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Dominican Republic Coffee
The traditional "campo" way of making a cup of authentic Dominican coffee is by drying the beans out in the sun, grinding and roasting them in a pilon, and then straining or sieving the ground coffee with boiling water through a device called a colador, a colander resembling a small butterfly net. Café de pilon, as it is known, has a characteristic rustic taste, and evokes considerable nostalgia for the old times. One of the ultimate compliments a Dominican can make about a cup of coffee is to say that it tastes like café de pilon.

In modern, urban Dominican homes, "colar café" endures as the expression meaning "to make coffee", even if you are using the ubiquitous greca, the aluminum stovetop Italian- style espresso jug found in practically all Dominican kitchens. At one time, the story goes, "greca" was one of the most famous brand names for this particular type of coffee pot, and Dominicans have adopted it as the generic word for this utensil. Other methods of making coffee are rarely seen, except for in restaurants and cafeterias where Italian espresso machines are used with sublime effects.

Coffee as an export crop is making a comeback these days, and the Dominican Republic is finding a promising niche as demand grows on the international market for organic coffee. As well as bringing renewed prosperity to the coffee growers in the campo, it is helping preserve the rural environment. In areas threatened by deforestation, coffee cultivation has the added bonus effect of reforestation. Coffee bushes need shade, and trees have to be planted to provide this.

The coffee growing areas of the Dominican Republic are also worth a visit for their scenic value. Panoramic and highly photogenic cascading slopes of green vegetation dotted with the orange-red blossoms of the "amapola" tree, named by the Spaniards because it reminded them of the poppy fields of their native land, are the characteristic landscape features. High up in the mountains where the coffee grows, the air is fresh and clear, offering some respite from the steamier lowlands.

If you are in the north of the Dominican Republic, you may consider visiting the Coffee Ecological Park in La Cumbre, on the Luperon Tourist Highway between Santiago and Puerto Plata. It has gift shops and craft workshops, as well as a parking area and cafeteria. The park has four lookout points, providing visitors with views of Santiago and Puerto Plata as well as of the Cibao Valley and the surrounding area of La Cumbre.

One of the great things about Dominican coffee is that even the most popular and affordable national brand is of exceedingly high quality. You don"t have to go premium or "export quality" to get a top class cup, as you do in some other coffee producing countries where the pick of the crop is reserved for export and the locals get the rest. Brands like "Santo Domingo" are smooth, rich and superb, and affordable to most pockets.

Coffee is sold in "funditas" – small packets that provide one greca"s worth of coffee, mainly from colmados, the typical corner grocery stores where most Dominicans buy their basic food supplies. Lower-income households will buy food as they need it, and coffee is one staple that is packaged in small measures with this sector of the economy in mind.

You can also buy Dominican coffee in half pound and 1lb packs, and also in cans for a much longer shelf life. There are also several brands of organic coffee, which are a little more expensive. All these are available from any supermarket shelves, or if you are already back home and missing that special taste of the Dominican Republic, you can order it over the internet from www.cafebueno.com

Freshly ground coffee can be bought at Santo Domingo"s Mercado Modelo crafts and souvenir market, on Avenida Mella near the Colonial Zone, and from specialist outlets like La Cafetera del Conde on Calle El Conde in the Colonial Zone. Some supermarkets also offer the option of grinding the beans for you on the spot.

Famous Dominican author Julia Alvarez owns The Vermont Coffee Company which packages and sells various organic coffees from Julias farm (finca) in the Dominican Republic. To visit The Vermont Coffee Companys website, click this link http://www.dakinfarm.com/

Along with other typical Dominican specialties like rum and cigars, one of the best souvenirs you can buy for the folks back home, not to mention for yourself, providing an evocative tasty and aromatic reminder of your stay in the Dominican Republic.
 
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