Cuba & Costa Rica Blog
About this blog
Written by Cuba and Costa Rica expert Christopher P. Baker, this blog will update readers on life in these two diverse and exciting countries.
- Last blog post on Costa Rica and Cuba
- First-ever group motorcycle tours of Cuba successful
- Cuba’s Mariel port readying for Panama Canal expansion
- Musings on wildlife encounters on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula
- Cuba’s Steam Trains puffing their last gasp
- My top five thrilling activities in Costa Rica
- Cuba’s fun February festivals include Harleys, Books, Cigars
- Five top volcano viewing experiences in Costa Rica
- New road along Costa Rica / Nicaraguan border mired
- Cuba’s Hotel Campoamor at Cojímar to be restored?
- Cuban revolutionary Celia Sánchez honored in new book
- Christmas challenge for Costa Rica’s sexually abused girls
- Costa Rica opens Chinatown in downtown San José
- David Soul films Hemingway’s car restoration in Cuba
- National Geographic Expeditions receives license for Cuba tours
Coffee tours in Costa Rica spill the beans!
Costa Rica, 13th among world coffee producers, grows about two percent of the world's coffee and glossy bushes carpet the slopes above 3,000 feet like rows of bottle-green corduroy. Beans grown here are ranked among the best in the world. Why is that, you may ask? What distinguishes a superb coffee from one that is merely OK?
For the answer, you should head to a coffee finca (farm) or beneficio (processing plant), many of which offer tours. There’s a tremendous amount of lore to learn about coffee production and most places, in my experience, leave you short-changed. There are tours, and then there are tours. Here are my three faves...
You're not going to be in Costa Rica five minutes without the name Café Britt popping up. I’ve always enjoyed Café Britt’s fun, albeit touristy, tour of its processing and packaging plant at Barva, where you can learn the story of Costa Rican coffee from the plantation to the cup. The company, which roasts, packs, and exports to specialty stores around the world, offers vastly entertaining tours led by staff in traditional country costumes and highlighted by a “Flavors of Costa Rica” multimedia presentation telling the history of coffee. The three-hour “Classic Coffee Tour” (9am, 11am, and 3pm mid-December-April, and 9am and 3pm daily May-mid-December, $25 pp or $35 with transportation) concludes in the tasting room, where you are shown how experts taste coffee.
Where Café Britt is a state-of-the-art, media savvy operation. Doka Estate at Sabanilla de Alajuela is a privately owned coffee plantation and century-old mill that still operates entirely by hydraulic power. It offers the Doka Coffee Tour (9:30am-1:30pm Mon.-Sat., by reservation on Sun., $18). Here, you’re taught the age-old techniques of coffee growing, milling, and roasting.
For the authoritative scoop, drive out to Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn, at Santa Barbara de Heredia, to partake of the astonishing knowledge (and flair-in-presentation) of acclaimed “barista” Leo Vergnani, one of Costa Ricas most knowledgeable coffee experts. Formerly with Doka Estate, Leo recently transferred to this 14-hectare sustainable organic coffee estate that produces solely for use at the eponymous hotel. He’s also a tremendous orator who infuses his presentations with vitality and fascinating lore. You can even participate in the coffee harvest, Oct.-Jan. And the finca has a stable for horseback rides, plus a fabulous restaurant, and one of the finest boutique hotels in the country. It's one of my favorite places to lay my head. But more on that later.
I include all the relevant details for sightseeing in my Moon Costa Rica.