Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to United States Virgin Islands

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Coffee is not just a beverage; it's a culture. And if you're an expat living in the United States Virgin Islands, you're in luck because you have the chance to immerse yourself in this world-renowned coffee culture. From the lush plantations to the cozy cafes, coffee has a prominent place in daily life and customs in these islands.

Understanding Coffee Origins and Production

The United States Virgin Islands has a relatively small coffee industry, but it's nothing short of thriving. The region's key coffee-growing areas are St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, where coffee trees are carefully planted and nurtured under strict standards.

Coffee farming in the United States Virgin Islands is a unique experience for expats. Freshly roasted beans from a local farm may be offered to visitors keen to explore farming techniques and crop conditions. Moreover, local cafes often serve coffee brewed right from the hillside farms, giving visitors the chance to understand and appreciate the true essence of Virgin Islands coffee.

Embracing Favorite Coffee Style Drinks

The coffee culture of United States Virgin Islands is as unique as it is sophisticated. From traditional brews to modern preparations, visitors can enjoy a diverse range of coffee style drinks that reflect the islands' indigenous tastes.

Local favorites include the café au lait, an espresso-based drink topped with steamed milk, and the Virgin Islands-style mocha, a concoction of coffee, licorice, and butter. In contrast, you might also want to try the feel-good winter drink known as the Christmas Special, a blend of rum, coffee, sugar, and spices, perfect for cold evenings.

Embracing Coffee Drinking Customs and Traditions

Coffee culture in the United States Virgin Islands carries plenty of customs and traditions that visitors should know about. Locals take coffee drinking seriously, with distinctive brewing methods that vary by island and even by household.

In Saint John, for example, coffee is often brewed with a percolator, known as a "drip-tank." Simultaneously, in Saint Thomas, you'll find coffee drinkers enthusiastically brewing coffee using an Arabic coffee pot known as the "ibriq."

Coffee also plays an indispensable role in social gatherings and rituals. The "chawlen," an Iroquois-Irokese ceremony, is a famous example, wherein coffee is brewed and served as a symbol of hospitality and respect.

As an expat, you must exhibit etiquette when enjoying coffee with locals. For example, when accepting your coffee, extend your left hand, a clear sign that you're accepting the offering with both hands, indicating respect.

Recommendations for Expat-Friendly Coffee Shops and Cafes

The United States Virgin Islands have plenty of expat-friendly cafes and coffee shops that offer an immersive and authentic experience. Here's a list of some of our top recommendations:

  • St. Thomas Coffee Roasters: Located in Red Hook, this popular cafeteria offers a range of specialty coffees, from Latin American blends to African single-origin brews.
  • Java City: With multiple locations on St. Thomas, Java City provides both dine-in and takeout services for coffee lovers, featuring a range of flavors and brewing techniques.
  • Coffee Garden: Situated in Frederiksted, this charming cafe is an excellent destination to explore traditional Virgin Islands coffee culture, with local artifacts and brewing tools displayed throughout the premises.


Coffee culture is a unique and exciting aspect of the United States Virgin Islands, integral to daily life, customs, and social interactions. As an expat, you have the chance to experience this world-renowned culture deeply rooted in the islands' rich history and traditions. By immersing yourself in the coffee culture of the United States Virgin Islands, you're not only experiencing a refreshing beverage but also the richness of the islands' culture and heritage. We hope this guide has offered you valuable insights into exploring coffee culture in United States Virgin Islands. Happy wandering!