In Old San Juan, the Art of the Perfect Cup

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At Finca Cialitos, authentic coffee in Old San Juan

By Alexander Britell

OLD SAN JUAN — Joaquin Pastor Gonzalez is a cafe owner. But he is also not a cafe owner.

Yes, Finca Cialitos is his cafe on Calle San Justo. And he often serves guests himself.

But he is, first, a coffee grower.

Pastor has been roasting coffee beans for 17 years, a farmer for longer, and this cafe on Calle San Justo has been open nearly three.

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It is all single origin, 100 percent arabica, all from the same farm in the town of Ciales in the central mountains of Puerto Rico.

For Pastor, coffee is his life, and this is the latest step on his journey from the farm.

“Being a farmer is very difficult,” he tells me. “So I have to sell something.”

finca inside

That is the reason for why he is here, but it is not the essence. He is here because he makes some of the best coffee you will ever taste.

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What he offers here is pure, perfect espresso, just floral enough, just acidic enough for an edge (too many roasted coffees cross that line today).

The eclectic cups come from a potter in Santurce, the artsy, rough-edged district in the capital.

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Everything, then, comes from somewhere near or far in Puerto Rico.

Old San Juan is full of terrific cafes — Cuatro Sombras, Caficultura — but this one feels, somehow, more authentic.

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Because he controls the whole process, from bean to cup. His imprint is on the brew.

Because he is a coffee grower.

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