It was a warm 80 degree morning on Ambergris Caye (Belize’s largest island). My wife and I sat down to a beautiful view of the Caribbean Sea with a refreshing ocean breeze at a beachfront café. I ordered a traditional Belizean breakfast of eggs, sausage, refried beans (why do they call them that? They’re not even fried once!) and Fry Jacks. I’ve never had a Fry Jack before and they were so good! They are very light, fluffy, fried dough in the shape of triangles! They are hollow inside so I stuffed mine with my eggs and beans and used it like a pita.
All was great until I tasted my coffee. I am not sure how it attained its dark color because it tasted like hot water soaked through dirty socks! It had no coffee flavor at all! I was shocked! I thought that I was going to be drinking great, fresh roasted coffee because I’m in Central America. That was not the case in the local restaurants because they use (Because I had to ask) Folgers or Maxwell House! Yuk! It was old stale coffee because good fresh roasted coffee is very expensive for the restaurant owners to buy…well that’s what they told me. I was still on a mission to find good coffee, although I did bring some of my own fresh roasted coffee from home to brew every morning for my wife, Candy and I before heading out.
We found a great coffee roaster on the island! It’s the “Rum, Cigar & Coffee House.” Ironically they did not offer Belizean coffee. They had some great El Salvadorian and some Mexican on hand. The store manager, Saul, explained that Belizean coffee is very expensive because of the small amount that the country actually produces.
The key to growing great coffee is the sub-tropic climate with high elevation and Belize has only one small area of the country that can achieve this. The country of Belize is in Central America between the Mexican and Guatemalan mountains and the Caribbean Sea. Belize coffee is organically grown in the shaded rainforest at the Gallon Jug Estate on the high plateaus of Western Belize.
In this area where prized Mahogany trees used to grow (they were all cut down to panel the walls of Aristocrats in England) is an ideal growing area for shade loving Arabica coffee. The varietal they grow comes from Costa Rica.
I had to buy a prepackaged pound of the coffee and although the medium-dark roast masked much of the subtle flavors, it was a great full bodied sophisticated cup of coffee! I also appreciate the fact that they emphasize ecologically friendly coffee growing practices.
Belize also grows lots of cacao! They grow and make wonderful chocolate!
I learned so much on my trip to Belize. I can’t wait to go back! Belize that! Remember, Life is too short to drink bad coffee!