Place in world as coffee exporter (13/14):
Sacks (60kg) exported annually (13/14):
Percentage of world coffee market:
Less than 1%
Other major agricultural exports:
Banana, cocoa, molasses, sugar cane, cotton
Typical Varieties Produced:
Typica, Caturra, Catuaí, Bourbon & Mundo Novo
Key Coffee Regions:
Cibao, Bani, Azua, Ocoa, Barahona & Juncalito
Typical Harvest Times:
September – May
From late December
The Dominican Republic produces between 350,000-500,000 bags of Arabica per year, however, less than 20% of this volume is exported due to very high internal domestic coffee consumption. The country has a coffee culture stretching back over two centuries and consumption hovers around 3kg per-capita.
Such a high level of internal consumption means that quality parameters have tended to be set by (relatively) mediocre internal standards, rather than by today’s higher specialty expectations. Nevertheless, the potential for finding high quality coffees and learning more about the growers and regions has led Mercanta to explore the two thirds of the beautiful Caribbean island of Hispañola that is the Dominican Republic.
Dominican coffees are surprisingly diverse. The country’s six growing regions - Cibao, Bani, Azua, Ocoa, Barahona and Juncalito - have been officially denominated by the government to better promote the individual profiles of the coffees from these distinct microclimates. However there may be as many as 25 distinct production zones around the island centred on its four mountain ranges.
Most coffee on the island grows at between 600 and 1,450 metres above sea level. Given the extreme diversity of the island’s microclimates and topography and the near constant humid conditions, coffee is picked almost all year round at one place or another on the island, although the peak harvest period takes place from November to May, peaking in April around the Semana Santa (Holy Week) festival.
Farms in the Dominican Republic are typically small – on average less than three hectares each – and much of the coffee is cultivated organically, though many farms are not officially certified. The majority is also shade-grown, often under a canopy of pine, macadamia and guava trees.
Most Dominican producers process their coffee themselves in small wet mills. All coffee is wet-processed: cherries are de-pulped within 24 hours, naturally fermented, washed and dried in the sun. The beans in parchment are then transported to large dry mills where the coffee is prepared for export or for sale in the domestic market.