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The top 5 coffee tours in Costa Rica

Coffee is very important in Costa Rica and has a long history, as coffee was the first export good and helped the economy immensely.

In this blog, I will tell you more about the coffee and in which places you can get the best and most authentic experience for yourself.

Coffee - The Golden Bean

In the late 1700’ s, the Ticos discovered that the climate and soil conditions were perfect to grow coffee. In 1832, Costa Rica began to export their coffee, as the first boat was sent to Chile. There, it was re-bagged and sent to England. At the same time, the famous carretas (ox-carts) were used to bring the coffee to the harbour of Puntarenas on the Pacific Coast. The ox-carts are handcrafted and colourfully painted. Today, an important place to see them is in Sarchí, Alajuela, where they were originally built.

Around 10 years later, the first ship was finally sent directly from Costa Rica to England, which then started to invest in the coffee production of Costa Rica. Until World War ll, England has been the most important client to Costa Rica, which helped the Ticos leave the poverty conditions they where living in, as well as the construction of streets, street lighting and the National Theater in San Jose. Since the coffee production helped the countries economy so much, the coffee bean is today still known as the “Golden Bean”, and still an important export good of the country. 

Costa Rican coffee is known in the whole world for its good quality and taste which makes it also a popular tourist attraction in the country. Coffee is mostly cultivated in the Central Valley and as it grows mostly close to the volcanoes, every region has a different taste. 

1. Monteverde: 

Monteverde is located in the North of Costa Rica and is known for the cloud forest, which is a highly visited tourist destination. The Santa Elena Reserve and other parks are popular for hiking and zip-lining, but also many beautiful birds, for example, the Quetzal, can be seen here. 

Monteverde is also known for coffee production; the coffee here has a light acidity and is a little bitter. In the 1990s, the farmers of Monteverde earned some of the highest prices paid in the world for their coffee beans.

In Monteverde, we visited a local farmer who explained to us how coffee cultivation developed and how his family participated in developing the instruments to dry coffee. At his farm, he also grows other fruits like sugar cane, bananas, and other fruit trees, which he showed us and explained the cultivation of each one. It is a very interesting and authentic experience, which I highly recommend you to do when you are in this area!

2. Alajuela, Poás

Doka Diciembre 2009

Another important location for coffee cultivation in Costa Rica is Alajuela, at the Poás volcano. The volcano has one of the biggest craters in the world, but due to the high activity in April 2017, the local residences had to be evacuated temporarily and the Poás National Park closed for visitors. In September 2018 the Park reopened, though a previous reservation is obligatory and the amount of visitors at a time is limited. 

Anyway, the surroundings of the volcano are very beautiful. Thanks to the volcano, the climate, and soil here show the perfect conditions to grow coffee and other plants, which makes nature very lush and green. 

Here you can visit an actual coffee farm and learn about ancient techniques to produce coffee, as well as the process of cultivation, harvesting, and roasting. 

Of course, you can book just the coffee tour, but I recommend you to combine this Tour with the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, which is close to the coffee farm. At the Waterfall Gardens, five big waterfalls flow down the mountain in succession, in the middle of the stunning rainforest. There is also an animal sanctuary and a restaurant where you can try the typical Costa Rican food. This is one of my favourite tours and I wrote a blog with all the information about La Paz, which you can read here.

This was the first coffee tour I have ever participated in and it was really interesting and informative. I did the Tour together with the La Paz Waterfall Gardens and all in all it was a great day I always like to remember!

This Tour includes the transfer from and to San José, a guide, lunch in a typical restaurant, the coffee tour and the entrance to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

3. Turrialba: 

tueste de cafe aquiares

Turrialba is a small city in the province of Cartago, in the beautiful Central Valley. Not far from the capital San José, you can admire the beautiful nature of Turrialba and the active Turrialba Volcano. Turrialba is also a hot spot for whitewater rafting, for example on the Pacuare River and famous for its cheese production.

The small city is also home to the biggest coffee plantation in Costa Rica, with a total expansion of 924 hectares. Coffee production is an important part of the village, as many people work there. For this reason, it is also called the “Coffee Village”. The taste of the coffee here is mildly acid and has a soft aroma.

During a coffee tour, we drove through the coffee plantation to a viewpoint where we got an incredible view over the huge coffee fields. Later, we learned everything about the production, different types of coffee, drying, and packaging. The farmers are very nice and open-hearted and showed us different flavours, textures, and colours, and of course, a coffee tasting was also included! Very delicious!

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4. Cerro de la Muerte, Talamanca Mountain range

This coffee farm is surrounded by mountains, in the middle of the green nature which is home to many birds. It is close to the Cerro de la Muerte at the Talamanca Mountain range in the south of Costa Rica. Here, coffee is cultivated since 1960 and the coffee tour is very informative. They told us about the quality of coffee and how the weather influences the coffee. What I liked is that the coffee is cultivated 100% environmentally friendly. Later we learned about the difference between the colours and what is important when it comes to packaging. The coffee had a caramel-taste, which was very delicious. I really liked this tour because they give you more background information, while others are more specialized in the cultivation and roasting process. 

5. Central Valley

granos de cafe

We did this tour as a day trip from San José. We live close to the Braulio Carillo National Park, which you have to pass to get to this coffee farm in Sarapiquí. But the best thing is, that the coffee tour was just a part of a whole adventure and history. 

The coffee tour was in Alajuela, but close to Heredia. We learned about the history, the cultivation, and the processing of coffee. It was shorter than other tours, but also informative and interesting. Then we visited a farm in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, where a Tico grows mostly pineapple but also other products like sugar cane. But let’s talk about the pineapple!

Have you ever tried a ripe pineapple in its country of origin? Of course, if it has to be exported to Europe, they are greener and not that sweet. But if you eat them directly here in Costa Rica, they taste so good! Afterwards, we visited a cocoa farm. Like coffee, cocoa has an important history.

Years ago, cocoa beans were used as payment and an important part of the rituals of the indigenous people. The indigenous group Bribrí in Talamanca still uses cocoa in their rituals. As you know, cocoa is an important product in the world, as it is used to make delicious drinks and chocolate. When we came back to San José, we were tired but happy and thinking about all the delicious things we tried that day. So if you want to experience more than a coffee tour in one day and you are looking for a day trip from the capital, this tour is perfect for you!

I am sure you will enjoy these coffee tours, no matter what you decide to do! These tours are for every age, and no matter if you like drinking coffee or not, they are all very informative and interesting.

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