Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Costa Rican Coffee Tours

The tour guide "plantation workers" at Cafe Britt.
If you’re a coffee drinker lucky enough to find yourself in Costa Rica, you’ll probably want to visit a coffee plantation. Near the capital city of San Jose, you’ll find two opportunities to do so: Cafe Britt in Heredia, or the Doka Estate on the road to the Poas Volcano. Though they impart the same information, the two tours are very different. So how do you know which to choose? Decide for yourself.

The tour of the Doka Estate is much more scientific and allows visitors the chance to stand high on a mountain where Arabica beans are grown. From the tour site, visitors can wander among palm trees and down a short path into the rows of coffee bushes that cover the mountainside. This is a working plantation with a working wet mill that runs on hydraulic power. While some coffee is roasted here under the name of Cafe Tres Generaciones, most of the beans grown and processed at Doka are shipped elsewhere for roasting.

In the Heredia district outside of San Jose, visitors can tour Cafe Britt. Like Doka, the staff at Cafe Britt explain how coffee beans are grown, hand-picked and processed. They include a tour of the roasting facility as well; a much more industrialized factory than the old-fashioned mills and machinery at Doka.

What differentiates Cafe Britt from other coffee tours is their entertaining approach to teaching visitors about coffee. Costumed actors greet visitors as they arrive and then walk them through a patch of shaded coffee bushes where they impart the same basic information about coffee, though they do this by interacting in character with the crowd.

Both tours offer guests insight into the cultivation of coffee and how coffee is processed and roasted. The Doka estate is dedicated to growing coffee. Cafe Britt centers on the roasting process, which is considered an art form. Both tours include samplings of Costa Rican Arabica bean coffee and the opportunity to buy as many bags as your heart desires. 

Coffee lovers visiting the San Jose area can’t go wrong with either tour. Choosing one depends on whether you want a more campy, entertaining tour like the one offered at Cafe Britt, or a more authentic, mountainside plantation experience like that at the Doka Estate. Either way, you’ll sample some of the finest coffee Costa Rica has to offer.

Coffee beans at Doka Estates

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