Europe’s Coffee Growing Island in the Azores

Portuguese Coffee Azores Islands Sao JorgeIn the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a short four-hour flight from Boston is the location of nine volcanic islands known as the Azores. Enchanting green lush pastures, giant volcanic craters now picturesque lakes, steaming natural hot springs that exhale out from the earth, blue hydrangeas in the thousands, and more cows than humans, are only a few things to expect when visiting these secluded islands. Aside from belonging to Portugal as an autonomous region, it is here on these nine islands that some of the finest gourmet products are produced.Azores Hydrangea hortensia dos acores rua road Aside from the nine islands that make up the archipelago, there are a few small towns with burgeoning dining scenes and some boutique hotels, hot springs, endless adventure activities (horseback riding, surfing, kayaking), and of course, on one small island of  São Jorge, there is the world’s northernmost coffee plantation. “The Azores has been waiting to be taken seriously as a nature getaway destination—it has everything Mainland Europe has, but it’s just a little easier to navigate,” says Luis Nunes, whose family operates a coffee farm on São Jorge Island. Just a short 30-minute flight from the main island of Sao Miguel.Coffee Portuguese Azores What makes this plantation so spectacular for one is how difficult it is to reach São Jorge Island and the fajãs where the coffee is grown. These are flatlands at sea level and are very steep—a coffee bean’s dream haven. “These are results from the accumulation of debris, following earthquakes, or lava flows from volcanic eruptions, and their flat and fertile soils, create a precise microclimate,” says Nunes.Azores Coffee Portuguese Canary Tree“Unfortunately, there are no bibliographical references that accurately record the introduction of coffee plants to São Jorge,” says Dina Nunes, whose father Manuel is the small plantation farmer and owner as well of Cafe Nunes, its sister business. “However, there are some experts in the field who have likened the characteristics of the plants [Arabica coffee] to have come from Brazil.” Around the 17th and 18th century there was a substantial emigration of Azoreans to Brazil—after the great earthquake of 1757 that rocked, among other islands, the island of São Jorge.Portugal Coffee Plantation Farm Azores Cafe“So in the late 18th-century transition to the 19th century, possibly someone who worked on some coffee farm returned from Brazil to São Jorge, bringing coffee beans,” says Dina Nunes. In the ’90s, when the island had no tavern (or coffee shop for that matter), the craft shop located in the fajã brewed coffee to captivate the customers coming to buy the famous bedspreads made by the family here using traditional methods. By 1997, they had set up a cafe and fully operational coffee plantation.Portugal coffee company lisbon tea The Nunes family bought the land almost 40 years ago—with only a small handful of plants. Today, they have 800 coffee plants and, in the last year, reached a final product of around 770 pounds of beans. “We exclusively have Arabica, but we are biological—we do not require any chemicals to fight pests since they just do not exist here,” says Dina Nunes. “And we also fertilize with the husks, leaves, and the coffee grounds.”All these factors make this such a delicious coffee. A rich, fragrant aroma that you will fall in love with right after opening up your fresh bag of coffee.European coffee grown on azores portugal The harvest season is between May and the end of August—the beans are all picked by hand and dried on a rack for three to four weeks. Nunes’s grandmother, Elvira Nunes, at age 92, is in charge of making sure all the impurities are removed from the beans. “The roasting is done the old-fashioned way: on the fire in an iron frying pan and stirring until the desired color is obtained,” smiles Dina Nunes. A long time-sensitive process that creates the finest cup of coffee on the planet. From Sprudge Portugal coffee culture Azores As you can imagine, this coffee has outstanding flavor profiles due to the secluded location of this plantation, hundreds of miles away from industrial pollution. The mineral-rich, volcanic soil and hard work of the family farmers who produce this rare coffee are only some of the benefits of this single-origin fair-trade coffee.Azores Island Coffee Grown in Portugal Order Now While Limited Quantity is Available: