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Coffee

Dominican Republic Coffee / Café Republica Dominicana

Dominican Coffee is a wonderfully rich-flavored and dark roasted coffee. Café Dominicana is the pride and joy of the Dominican people.

A cup of hot Café Santo Domingo served in a restaurant. The cup interior says “Sabor que empieza en el Aroma” / Flavor that begins in the Aroma
A cup of hot Café Santo Domingo served in a restaurant. The cup interior says “Sabor que empieza en el Aroma” / Flavor that begins in the Aroma

Dominicans love their coffee. Most Dominicans will have their coffee black/ negro in a small cup with lots of sugar/ azucar. Some like to add some powdered cream to their cup. Try coffee with milk/café con leche. Coffee with lots of boiled milk/ medio pollo or American Coffee/ Café Americana this is espresso coffee served with hot water to thin it out.

Growing Coffee | Café Santo Domingo | Bialetti Coffee Maker or the Long Coffee Maker | Coffee Making Tips |

Dominican Republic coffees are usually very rich and robust. They have a small amount of acidity. The coffee production is mainly in the towns of Cibao, Bani, Ocoa, and Barahona in the Cordillera Septentrional, the Cordillera Central, the Sierra de Bahoruco and the Sierra de Neyba regions.

Coffee is grown in the cooler mountainous regions of Dominican Republic.
Coffee is grown in the cooler mountainous regions of Dominican Republic.

Growing Coffee

The coffee grown in this Caribbean region is a darker type of coffee that has a soft, sweet flavor. This dark Arabica coffee is unique, as it does not have the bitter taste that many dark roast coffees seem to have. The coffee from Dominican Republic ranks high in full-flavored coffee the price is very reasonable.

The Dominican coffee growers have been working very hard trying to make their coffee products known worldwide. Coffee has been growing on the island of Hispaniola for more than 265 years. Even with all these years growing coffee it is generally lover looked by coffee connoisseurs. The country is now recognized as top producers of organic coffee.

Coffee cherries growing on plants in Dominican Republic.
Coffee cherries growing on plants in Dominican Republic.

The coffee plant, belonging to the Rubiacede family, is a woody perennial evergreen with a main trunk with branches growing off of branches. The plant can grow tall but it is usually pruned down to make harvesting easier. It takes about 4 years for a plant to start producing. First comes the sweet-scented flowers, and then the little beans start growing, quite fast, where the flower once was. It will take about 35 weeks for the flower to turn into a green bean then red. When the coffee “cherry” is ripe it is bright red, firm and is shiny.

Our coffee is grown mostly in full shaded areas with maybe 10% of the coffee grown in the sun. Because of these variations, the country can grow coffee year-round. The lower altitude coffee is harvested in August to September with the higher regions harvesting through May or June.

Another great thing about the coffee grown here is that the shade required for growing is provided by larger trees. This is very good for the environment because the shade trees provide habitats for many species of birds, lizards and even orchid plants. About 90% of the coffee produced here is organic and environmentally friendly because most growers do not use chemical pesticides or fertilizers in the growing process.

Coffee in Dominican Republic is usually grown by small farms with entire families including the women and children all working together. There are some commercial farmers here but most of the growers either work alone or belong to a coop. These local farmers grow their coffee on hills and steep mountain slopes. It is usually picked by hand with each farm producer usually processing the coffee themselves in what is called a wet mill / beneficios humedos. This way only the ripe beans are picked saving the unripe to be picked when they are ready. They are sorted to get the good beans out of the bunch. The good beans float in water the bad stuff sinks. Then they are separated again according to the density of the bean, this is how the bean is graded. The better the coffee the denser the bean.

Raw coffee beans ready for roasting
Raw coffee beans ready for roasting

The beans are then fermented. This may take a day or so, depending on the bean type. Then they are dried, first in the sun then in a drying machine until they have just the right moisture ratio. The drying can take anywhere from 6 to 14 days. About 12-20 kg of export ready coffee will be produced from every 100 kg of coffee cherries harvested.

There is much more to the coffee growing and production process that is too much for most to concern themselves with. Yet most people never realize where their prized morning cup of coffee comes from and how much it takes to get that aromatic black liquid into your hands. So when you do have that first aromatic wake-up cup of java in the morning just think how much was involved to give you that morning or after dinner pleasure.

A coffee vendor, known as Cafero, selling coffee in Parque Colón in the Colonial Zone
A coffee vendor, known as Cafero, selling coffee in Parque Colón in the Colonial Zone

In the street you can buy coffee from vendors carrying little plastic, thimble-sized cups with sugar usually already added. If you do not like sugar in your coffee then you will be shocked with your first taste. Give it a try. It does taste wonderful and will give you back the bounce in your walk you lost while strolling in the hot Caribbean sun.

Café Santo Domingo on the store shelf
Café Santo Domingo on the store shelf

Café Santo Domingo

If you’ve had Cafe Santo Domingo (Amazon link) or some of the other brands of Dominican Coffee you’ll know why it is so highly recommended. Can’t have your coffee in Zona Colonial, don’t worry. Order some online. Thank you in advance for helping our hard working Dominican farmers.

While you are drinking our rich coffee. Close your eyes. Inhale the wonderful aroma. Envision the bright Caribbean sun while you’re under a fan in a little cafe enjoying the best coffee in all the world. Remember, you can have your coffee and drink it too!

Bialetti Moca Express coffee maker
Bialetti Moca Express coffee maker

Bialetti Moca Express

In my opinion, the BIALETTI coffee maker (Amazon link) (pictured here) is one of the best for making your Dominican Coffee. With its patented octagonal shape it makes this maker easy to spot. They produce over 16,000 coffee makers per day. Since I’ve been making coffee with mine (bought for me by my son for a Mother’s Day present when he was 7 years old, about 25 years ago. Recommended to him by his favorite lady in a little Italian coffee shop. He loved espresso coffee and really bought it for himself) drinking coffee made using any other method just doesn’t taste the same unless it is the traditional coffee made on a fogon.

The espresso machine and fresh ground coffee at Cafeteria Colon on Calle el Conde in Colonial Zone
The espresso machine and fresh ground coffee at Cafeteria Colon on Calle el Conde in Colonial Zone

COFFEE MAKING TIPS

an article written by © Michael Spencer 2003

It is very hard not to get a good cup of Dominican Coffee. Here are some tips to help you make a good cup great. At the end, I will tell you how to get the Perfect Cup.
Two things are critical:
1. Fresh roasted and freshly ground coffee.
2. Hot brewing water.

Fresh roasted coffee:

The freshest and best beans come directly from the roaster. But excellent roasted beans produced by any of the Country’s torre factories can be bought in any large and busy supermarket as they restock regularly. Beware of a bag of beans that has been sitting on a shelf in a Colmado or at an airport gift stand for who knows how long.

If you buy enough beans for a week, keeping them in an airtight container on the counter will be adequate storage. Any longer, and you should keep the airtight container in the freezer.

Without question, the beans should be ground just before brewing. Ground beans stale very rapidly because of the increased surface area exposed to oxygen, which is deadly.

Bagged or vacuum canned ground beans are convenient, but many of the subtleness and nuances of taste and flavor are lost in the process. Plus, once open, here comes oxygen to attack what is left. The last pot will be nowhere near the quality of the first.

Hot Brewing Water:

Over the centuries experience and experiment has taught that the best liberation of aroma and extraction of flavor is accomplished if the water is just off-boiling as it reaches the ground beans. (92º-96º C).

That is why the “long espresso” brewer used by everyone in the Dominican Republic makes such good coffee. Boiling water is forced up the inner tube by pressurized steam. When the water hits the ground coffee, the temperature is perfect.

Conventional drip brewers (Mr. Coffee, etc.) are also adequate, as most newer ones will make the water hot enough. A washable gold or nylon mesh filter, while less convenient, will produce a much better brew because the paper filters capture some of the tasty molecules and flattens the coffee. In either case, you will want to adjust the amount of ground coffee you use to suit your taste. Be generous.

Finally, do not brew more coffee than you are going to drink right then and there. Brewed coffee left to cool or even left warming on a hot plate looses body and flavor very rapidly. You will just be wasting the quality you paid for and worked to achieve.

Now, here is how to get the Perfect Cup:

You will be riding on a dirt trail up in the hills, heading for home, when from a neighbor’s house will issue the invitation, “desmontense.”

As all the family chairs are being set up in the shade, you will observe that one of the children is crushing roasted beans in the pilon, and a pot of water has been set to boil over a wood fire in the clay fogon. The beans will have been roasted earlier over that same fire, and will be from what your neighbor reserved from his crop before it was sold.

When the water reaches a rolling boil, the pot will be removed from the fire and a generous amount of crushed coffee and raw brown sugar added, together with, perhaps, a dash of powdered clove, cinnamon, vanilla, or cacao.

After settling for a few minutes, the dark brew will be strained through cloth, and served to you in the family’s best.

You will tilt back in the shade, sipping the brew, discussing the vagaries of the weather, the price of crops, and the nuisance of roaming pigs.

You will be drinking the Perfect Cup.

Larimar

Larimar From Dominican Republic

Larimar is a beautiful stone only found in the mountain area of Barahona, Dominican Republic. Larimar is found under the ground in deep mines. This rare stone is the color of the Caribbean Sea on a bright sunny day.

About Larimar | The Mines of Barahona | Gift Shops | The Powers of Larimar | Purchase Larimar

An artist is shaping and polishing raw Dominican Republic larimar that will be made into jewelry.
An artist is shaping and polishing raw Dominican Republic larimar that will be made into jewelry.

About Larimar

Volcanos many millions of years ago formed Larimar. Larimar is a type of Blue Pectolite that can be found all over the world, in Canada and the U.S.A. But, only Dominican Republic produces the rare variety known as Larimar. Larimar often has a white spider-veined look to it. It is very abundant in the Dominican Republic, for now. It can only be found in the mountains of the Barahona in the Southwest region of the country. Los Chupaderos, in the Los Checheses area. This is the only place where this gem appears on the terrestrial crust. When these mines have been depleted of this rare stone it may be gone forever.

Raw and sliced Larimar
Raw and sliced Larimar

It was originally thought that Larimar came out of the sea as pieces flowed down the river into the sea where they were originally found. There were mentions of this beautiful blue stone throughout history (The first written mention of the “blue stone” is when Father Miguel Domingo Fuertes Loren, November 1916, asked for permission to explore more for this rock he found. It was never mentioned in geological studies or literature and was forgotten).

A large piece of raw Dominican Republic Larimar that can be seen in the Larimar Museum in the Colonial Zone
A large piece of raw Dominican Republic Larimar that can be seen in the Larimar Museum in the Colonial Zone

In 1974 a Peace Corps member and a Dominican man, Miguel Méndez, located the source of the stone thus the name Larimar came into existence. Miguel Méndez’s daughter’s name was Larissa and the Spanish name for the sea is mar. So the name Larimar was born.

Here are some good looking pieces Larimar jewelry for sale at Amazon.com

An opening to a Larimar mine in Barajona region of Dominican Republic
An opening to a Larimar mine in Barajona region of Dominican Republic

The Mines

If you should decide to make a trek to visit the Larimar mines in the mountainous area of Barahona it is a great experience. These mines can only be accessed by long, bumpy, rocky and dusty roads and the trip is not an easy one. If you make this trek you will feel as if you were going back in time. It would be a truly memorable experience.

The larimar mines are long, deep holes in the ground formed by the chimneys of the volcano. The mining is very dangerous and done primitively using manual labor. These local miners have no modern tools to extract the Larimar. There are no safety measures takes in the mines here in the country so there are many collapses and many lives have been lost. Most of these miners live near the mines in small villages and have done this work their entire lives.


Larimar jewelry sold in a gift shop in the Colonial Zone, Dominican Republic.
Larimar jewelry sold in a gift shop in the Colonial Zone, Dominican Republic.

Gift Shops

Larimar jewelry can be found in gift shops and jewelry stores throughout the Dominican Republic. Larimar jewelry is one of the tourists’ favorite purchases when visiting the country.

Larimar is graded according to its colors. The volcanic blue color is considered high quality. The cheaper jewelry coloring is usually white to light blue. The green-colored stones are lower quality also unless the green is very intense.

Larimar jewelry found in the gift shop La Placita in the Colonial Zone.
Larimar jewelry found in the gift shop La Placita in the Colonial Zone.

To see some great examples of larimar make sure to visit the Larimar Museum on Calle Isabel la Católica near Padre Billini in Colonial Zone. Also, almost every gift shop will have some larimar jewelry for sale in a wide price range.

Larimar is rated between .5 and 7 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness.

Polished Larimar slices.
Polished Larimar slices.

The Powers of Larimar

The cosmic powers of Larimar are said to help one view events from a different perspective. The color of Larimar looks like the sky blending into the sea with a touch of clouds or foam. Water and air are the most changeable of the physical elements. Its cool and calming color helps teach us how to change anger into a more peaceful form of feeling expression. It softens, enlightens and heals in a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual way.

Larimar is said to stimulate the heart, throat, third eye and crown chakras helping with inner wisdom and outer manifestation of this wisdom. It represents peace and clarity. It radiates healing and love energy. It is recommended for people who are stressed. Larimar helps a person to communicate from the soul thus promoting the flow of expression and creative ideas yet its grounding qualities help one to make these ideas turn into reality.

Larimar tells us that life, like the skies and seas, is always changing and in chaos yet underneath this seemingly chaotic exterior is the peace of the eternal soul.

Larimar Cabochons ready to be made into jewelry.
Larimar Cabochons ready to be made into jewelry.

Purchase Larimar

If you cannot make the trip to come to the Dominican Republic to purchase your own larimar you can always buy it online at Amazon. There is a wide variety of beautiful pieces from which to choose. Here are just a few samples.

Beautiful Dominican Republic larimar from Amazon

Mamajuana Drink

Mamajuana

Mamajuana also known as Viagra Dominicana is a drink indigenous to the island. Haiti and the Dominican Republic, both having their own variation of the recipe. All are said to stimulate the libido.

1.Ingredients 2.Recipe 3.Taking Home

Mamajuana being sold in the market in Dominican Republic
Mamajuana being sold in the market in Dominican Republic

Originally this beverage was made by the Taino Indians, boiling the roots to make a type of medicinal tea. Honey was added as a sweetener. As time passed rum or wine was added to the mixture to make Mamajuana as it is known today.

Cure-All

This sweet, amber-colored liquid is said to be a cure-all, mainly used for the gripe, the Dominican name for the flu. It is also said to be a good remedy for arthritis, toothaches, headaches and stomachaches. In the history of Mamajuana it has been used as a cure for many different ailments. Many of the natural ingredients of mamajuana are also used in Western herbal remedies.

Different types of mamajuana in bottles
1.A bottle of manajuana with the dry herbs inside 2. Bottle with liquids added. 3. and 4. Dominican Mamajuana with the seafood parts.

Some of the Ingredients in Mamajuana:

There are as many different versions of the recipe as there are people mixing this potent concoction. All depending on what ingredients you chose to introduce to your bottle. There are different versions for getting pregnant (cat or parakeet claws), not getting pregnant, headache and more. Below are some of the basic ingredients used in Mamajuana.

*Canelillea (Dominican grown cinnamon whose leaves and twigs are used for flavor, circulation and adds a little warmth to the mix),

*Timacle (In the Taino language it means brave. It is a vine with big, twisted and gnarled roots. It is said to work on the ligaments to make one more agile for days. It is also said to make one energized and able to think more clearly).

*Bejuco de Indio (helps male impotency. It is said to even make the bottom parts of the body feel like they are vibrating if taken in large doses. It is said to make sweat and body odor have an essence that makes one seem more attractive, gets the pheromones flowing).

*Bejuco de Costilla (the bark is also said to give the lower parts of the body extra life and vibrancy, for some it can make you feel quite warm and toasty).

*Batata (also known as the plain old potato or sarsaparilla is a sexual stimulant).

*Bitter Ginger / Gengiberes Amargo (a root in the ginger family but it is a bit more bitter and yellower than regular ginger yet it looks about the same. It is used to repel internal parasites, improves circulation, said to help with arthritis and may even be able to help with hair growth).

*Yname/ true yam (said to enhance hormones. The inside is eaten in Dominican Republic and elsewhere like a potato and the outside is used in mamajuana).

*Anamú (bark of the tree),

*Bohuco (a type of creeper),

*Brazil, Caro, Marabeli, Osua, Guyacan, Twigs of Palo Indio, Palo de Maguey and Pega Palo (literally means hitting stick).

Plus many other ingredients, some of which are said to be secret. Each creator has their own variation on the recipe which makes each bottle of mamajuana unique.

There are other special ingredients that can be added to your bottle of herbs including different animal parts. Mainly, these parts are taken from sea animals. These sea creatures/ mariscos could include octopus, snail, conch, clam or oyster. One of the treasured ingredients is a sea turtle penis or as it is known in Dominican Republic, Miembro de Carey. Using the penis is said to give the man extra potency.

Showing different styles of Mamajuana bottles in a gift shop
Showing different styles of Mamajuana bottles in a gift shop

Mamajuana Recipe

There are as many different versions of the recipe as there are people mixing this potent concoction. All depending on what ingredients you chose to introduce to your bottle. There are different versions for getting pregnant (cat or parakeet claws), not getting pregnant, headache and more.

(Drum roll please)…THE RECIPE FOR THE PERFECT MAMAJUANA CURE-ALL

Each person will have their own concoction, or if you prefer, recipe. All depends on their own special likes and dislikes. Basically, after the natural sticks and parts are all stuffed into a bottle the liquid can be added. Usually, for the first batch, the bottle is filled with red wine (cheap wine is just fine for this step. Most Dominicans I know use the wine called “La Fuerza”) and a little honey (about a 1/4 cup). This is left to sit for about a week, mainly to clean all the ingredients, wash away the bitterness of the sticks and to get the bottle ready for the good stuff. After the week has passed empty out the wine, “they say” you’re not supposed to drink this, but it won’t hurt if you like the taste. Many places throughout the Dominican Republic have the bottles already cured for you so you may not need this step. If your bottle is wet inside then it has been pre-cured.

Now for the good part. Add some good Dominican Ron/ Rum, you can use other brands if you don’t have the Dominican kind. Some people use dark rum while others use light rum (I prefer the light if you care. Because when I add the honey it is just a little too sweet for my tastes using the dark rum). Some add half rum and half wine. Some use just a little wine and more rum. Many people add honey and vanilla (buy some Dominican style vanilla for the real flavor). Try it with a little gin or vodka for good measure. It is all a matter of taste and what ingredients are on hand. Whatever the ingredients that are chosen, they need to steep in the bottle. Let the bottle alone for at least a week, the longer the liquid sits in the bottle the more wood flavor it will have. A long or short time all depends on your taste. I suggest having 2 or 3 bottles going. This way you can have one ready for drinking with another is brewing. You do not want to take a chance and run out when you are needing a trago (drink). Each bottle can be made in a little different style. Experiment with it until you get the blend that most satisfies all those inner urges.


We now offer original Dominican Republic Mamajuana for sale! We sell the 6.8 oz. poly bag (pictured here) filled with the herbs for making mamajuana. This will fill a 750ml empty bottle of your own this way the shipping is much less expensive.
For prices and information go to our Purchase Mamajuana page. Buy the herbs and enjoy the beverage.

Mamajuana can be served in as many different ways as there are of making the warming drink. It can be taken by the shot, served warm, over ice, after dinner, mixed with soda or juice, whatever you like, each person likes theirs differently. It is available for tasting in most Dominican bars and restaurants. So there is no excuse for not giving it a try. If you don’t like one places version of this warming liquid try another places version. Soon you will come to enjoy this typical Dominican “viagra”.

Taking Mamajuana Home

When you transport Mamajuana to your home destination it is best to have the bottle filled with the liquid. Many times, not always, the customs people in the airport will not let a bottle pass with the dry ingredients as it is considered to be agriculture (plant material). But when the bottle is full it is different. Also make sure that you pack it well for the trip. You don’t want that unique souvenir to end up on all your clothing instead of in your tummy. Ask the gift shop where you purchase the bottle to wrap it for you in lots of paper then surround it with some soft stuff (lots of clothing or a towel will do just fine) in your luggage. Then when you get home you’ll have a great item to share with friends along with your stories of your trip.

Mamajuana with seafood inside at the foot of some domino players.
Mamajuana with seafood inside at the foot of some domino players in the park.

Shopping for Mamajuana in DR is also a fun experience. You can buy it in most gift shops throughout the country, in markets or along the streets. Many bottles have a pretty leather holder that says Dominican Republic. Other bottles you can find will be in whatever type of bottle the maker has available. My personal bottle has a whisky label on it. Also in most gift shops they will have some mamajuana ready for you to try. Take a little cup (or two) and enjoy the free drink. My office is behind a gift shop in Colonial Zone and everyday when the workers tell people to try mamajuana the first thing they say is “is that legal here?” Then the worker has to explain that it is a drink not a smoke…LOL! So remember it is even fun to buy the mamajuana as the seller tries to explain what it does for the libido and what is really in the bottle.

Mamajuana for sale on the streets of the Colonial City
Mamajuana for sale on the streets of the Colonial City

My first experience

seeing Mamajuana was on vacation in Dominican Republic. Some people I met at a Colmado near my hotel offered me some out of a big bottle carried in the back of the trunk. I saw all the “crap” in the bottle and turned it down. I had no idea what it was.

My next visit I was a bit braver and tried it. It was quite tasty so my friend took me to some market where some relative of his sold it. Since he was related I got the “special” blend. He pulled out an old whiskey with a half torn off, old label. This bottle was filled with a bunch of sticks. He opened the bottle when from under the shelf he pulled out a gallon plastic milk jug filled with some black liquid. He treated this “juice” like it was gold. He poured some in the bottle of twigs..so slowly. Then he jammed it all down with a stick! When he handed me that bottle, he had a big smile on his face, like he was giving me a gift from the Gods. He also refused to take any money and he gave me a drink from his “personal stash”.

It was wonderful…warm and tasty with a hint of fish flavor. Sweet, but how too sweet. A very enjoyable Dominican experience. And after I had it in USA it was a real conversation maker. My dog liked it also. My friends were not as acceptable as the dog, being not very sure about its look. No matter what it is said to do to the stamina and libido, I like it and will imbibe from time to time on my yummy treat. (More about My Mamajuana Experience at the DR Gringas Blog)

If Mamajuana is or is not a true aphrodisiac does it really matter? It is a great memory to take home from vacation with you. This way one can have a taste of Dominican Republic and a happy memory at the same time. Remembering your first encounter with and how you were offered your first taste of Mamajuana. How this first taste came along with a little smile. Like they knew what was going to happen to you later in the day if you kept drinking. Remembering the warmth of the sun..or was it the sun? Could it have been the Mamajuana…..