Portuguese Coffee & Tea Grown on the Azores Islands

Hot DrinkOne interesting fact I discovered is that the Azores islands are one of the only 2 locations in Europe to grow coffee and the only commercial producer of tea as well in all of Europe. I decided to explore deeper into how and why these small islands; which are located in the North Atlantic ocean, decided to experiment and produce both coffee and tea; which are not native to any region in Europe.8121219311_6e7c35b446To understand the possibilities of coffee and tea production in the Azores, it is important to understand the delicate weather pattern that exists here. The winter months are filled with ample rain to nourish the mineral rich volcanic soil that exists on these 9 unique islands. It must be noted that just about everything always stays green here in the Azores, where there is seldomly a drought season and it is common to experience all four seasons in a single day. This has allowed tea to flourish on the Azores islands since the 19th century, with only one commercial producer still in operation; ‘Cha Gorreana’. The plantation has been producing both green and black organic teas, using the same traditional method since its founding in 1883. The plantation is powered hydro-electrically; allowing the factories machines to operate thanks to the waterfall and stream that runs through the estate.135695_153220071393685_2601970_oThis is one of Portugal most famous landmarks with everyone making a point of visiting the historical plantation while they are on the island of Sao Miguel. Here you can walk the 18th century grounds that once was a large orange grove, while admiring the tea fields and ocean views from this trully unique plantation.  After walking or hiking the marked trail you can go inside the museum and factory and take a free self guided tour of the entire process; from harvesting to packaging, all done on site. The machinery that is close to 200 years old is still operational, which also makes it a model facotry of the pre-industrial revolution. The outstanding views of green hillsides and majestic blue waves crashing on the coastline below makes this a truly unique European company, that is now on its 6th generation under the same family ownership the Hintze-Mota family.cafe-nunesIn terms of coffee, the plants arrived in São Jorge island in the Azores by the travels of an emigrant in Brazil during the 19th century. It was then upon returning back to his native island that he brought with him numerous seeds and plants. Most of them did well in the microclimate of the fajãs an area with fertile soils used by many locals for agriculture. Although there are plants in several fajãs, only Manuel Nunes has a plantation for production with around 400 coffee plants. The whole process of coffee production (cultivation, harvesting, drying, choice of grains and roasting) is biological, manual and all done on site, where the beans are harvested. The grains dry in the sun and it is Manuel Nunes who tries to thresh them, with the help of a stone or a brick. It is with the help of his mother-in-law, who is 91 who helps to choose the best beans and then it is up to the women of the family to toast them.coffeestjorgeThe production, which has increased every year since he began 35 years ago and is only sold as of now on the island of Sao Jorge. It is served in many of the local coffee shops most notably his own “Cafe Nunes”. Mr. Nunes the Azorean coffee farmer has decided that he does not want to expand much more than he has already has, keeping the product small and local. He has begun to start selling small 50g and 100g bags of his unique coffee to tourists who are eager to try this Atlantic brew.coffeeplasntssaojorgeIt is more of just a family run, small coffee garden.  Here the family owned business is eager to show how the Azores can produce almost anything in it’s rich fertile soil. The island of Sao Jorge is a long and narrow island with many unique sites to explore and this is definitely one of them. Make sure when you visit your local coffee shop on the island that the coffee is from Sao Jorge. The coffee and tea from the Azores have a unique, fresh island taste and I am sure it is due to the unique exotic climate here in the Azores. They are worth a try when visiting these magical green islands in the Atlantic. ffffffff

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