Coffee has long been the pride of Costa Rica, deeply rooted in its history and culture. The most prized coffees are found close to the equator and need an elevation equivalent to that of Monteverde to produce the best balance of flavor and acidity. The coffee tour at Don Juan’s coffee farm will give you a hands-on experience from picking to drinking coffee as you discover the secrets of growing this tantalizing elixir. An added bonus includes an interactive cacao and sugar cane processing demonstration with more opportunities to overload your senses through touch, smell and tasting these powerful aphrodisiacs.
As the popularity of coffee grew worldwide in the 1800s, the Costa Rican government granted land to farmers who would be willing to grow coffee. From these small farms flourished the wealth of a country as coffee farmers transformed into prominent members of society creating a more populist government. The first railroads were built to transport coffee to ports and the construction of the famed National Theater is attributed to the financial success of coffee production (and consumption!).
You’ll sip coffee as the tour starts with an introduction to the coffee plant, its life cycle and the stories of the workers who grow and pick the coffee cherries. During harvest season (November to February) you will be invited to pick coffee from the low bushy trees growing in rich volcanic soil as you leisurely stroll along a paved walkway through the plantation’s rolling hills.
From the field you will go to a covered area to view a demonstration of the traditional process for washing and removing the pulp from the bean. Next you will visit the Drying Patio and help spread the beans to dry in the sun. Then it’s off to the warehouse to see how the beans are stored in breathable sacks to complete their aging process before being roasted. You will have the option of riding in a typical oxcart the way farmers traveled in the past bringing their coffee to market. The oxen are pretty amazing.
Now that you know all about coffee, you’ll go on a 30 minute cacao tour, seeing the cacao growing right off the trunks of the trees, tasting the fruit and participating in the process of making chocolate. Following the rich aroma you’ll work your way from sampling the nutritious nibs to the decadence of chocolate confectionaries. You can choose a variety of options to mix in your chocolate tasting experience such as raisins, nuts and the ever popular hot chili pepper.
But your tour is not over yet! This Costa Rican cultural experience would not be complete without learning how sugar, a major world export, is processed from sugar cane. You will assist your guide running raw sugarcane through a mill called a trapiche to extract the juice in the way it was done in the olden days. You’ll learn how to make raw cane juice, an ever popular dietary staple, and flavor it with ginger or lemon or both. And, of course, you’ll be sampling your creations.
This is truly more than a “coffee tour” providing a hands-on approach to demonstrate how farmers have produced coffee, sugar and chocolate from raw resources in the traditional way. You may even meet Don Juan himself adding even more authenticity to your experience. This tour has been given the Certification for Sustainable Tourism award for being a model of natural, cultural and social sustainability. Admission, snacks, samples, bilingual guide and round trip transportation included in this 3 hour educational tour.