A blog post from 2011 (“Coca Cola and the Puerto Rico Coffee Industry,” by Harvests of the World boutique coffee brand) stated that the Coca-Cola company had purchased 85% of Puerto Rico’s coffee brands, claiming that the company was not marketing Puerto Rico’s excellent coffee, but rather a variety of coffees from Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. They also stated that “worst of all, they are not using class A coffee of Puerto Rico; they are using a 3rd class coffee.” The post goes on to say, “So watch out for [these] brands; it is the same coffee, just packed in different [. . .] labels: Alto Grande [no wonder this didn’t taste as special recently as the last time I had it], Cafe Crema [sorry, Mary Ann!], Yauco Selecto, Encantos, Cafe Rioja, Yaucono, La Tahona, and Café Rico, just to mention a few.” I found confirmation of this in the article below (Caribbean Business, 19 May 2013), which only in passing mentions Coca-Cola’s role. See excerpts and links below:
Puerto Rico Coffee Roasters inaugurated new facilities in Ponce on Wednesday that will process some 30,000 pounds of coffee per year, add 150 employees and support more than 10,000 planter and picker jobs in the island’s central region. The upgraded plant, which sits at the old Café Rico site, entailed a $15 million investment in machinery, equipment and improvements at the 12,000-square-foot facility. That comes on top of the $70 million that the company has invested in the operation since 2008. The facility will cover all aspects of preparing coffee from market from roasting and grinding to distribution.
Puerto Rico Coffee Roasters is by far the island’s biggest coffee company, covering brands including Café Yaucono, Café Crema, Café Rico, Café Rioja, Café Encantos, Alto Grande, Adjuntas, Expresso and Yaucono Selecto. It is owned by the CC1 investment group headed by Alberto de la Cruz, president of Coca-Cola Puerto Rico Bottlers. “The aim of this investment is to maximize the quality of coffee in Puerto Rico and strengthen our coffee industry, an industry with 275 years of history on the island,” De la Cruz said. “We intend to continue marketing Café Yaucono, Café Crema, Café Rico and all of our other brands in Puerto Rico, as well as exporting them to the U.S. mainland and other countries,” he said.
[Former] Gov. Luis Fortuño [seated in the middle, photo above], who spoke at the plant inauguration, said the investment has rendered the new facilities as the largest coffee processing plant in the Caribbean.
Fortuño also mentioned various efforts by the island government to promote the coffee industry, including a $6.5 million hike in the Agriculture Department’s budget. Through the local stimulus program, some $4 million was invested in the agency’s coffee plantation improvement program. Last year, subsidies for fertilizer were increased from $35 to $45 for each 100 pounds. Some 2,935 vouchers have been awarded, for a total of $3.7 million in disbursements.
For full article, see http://www.caribbeanbusinesspr.com/news03.php?nt_id=57482&ct_id=1
For original blog post, see http://cocacolaandpuertoricocoffeeindustry.blogspot.com/