If you've spent any time in Costa Rica, then you've likely tried a cup, at least, of the country's most prized export: coffee. But until you take a day to tour the places that produce the best beans, you haven't really experienced what all the fuss is about. Not to worry: follow this itinerary to hit all the best coffee plantations and farms Costa Rica has to offer.
A guide explains part of the process of how coffee is grown and made — Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica
The Cafe Britt Coffee Tour in Heredia is an excellent place to begin your day of tasting, and its twice-per-day tours can easily be arranged from your hotel in San Jose. Considered the country's premier producer and exporter, the Britt Farm is a special place to learn about the history of coffee - dating back to the 1700s - and to taste the variety of roasts that come from their beans. Try coffee made the old-fashioned way with a chorreador, and pick one up in the Cafe Britt gift shop, if you like it.
A coffee tasting — Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica
The green, picturesque rolling hills of the Orosi Valley, at the foot of the Irazu Volcano, are home to ideal conditions and fertile ground for growing coffee trees. It here that you can visit the Chucaras Hotsprings Estate, a sprawling plantation that offers daily tours of its private farms as well as a soak in its thermal pools - quite the heady combination.
Ricardo Fallas, the owner of Chucaras, owns eight other coffee plantations, with a total of nearly four million coffee trees. They're all at an elevation of 3,450 feet or higher, giving his high-altitude beans a superior quality and taste, while being grown sustainably. This Costa Rican knows his coffee!
The nearby Finca Cristina also offers daily tours for only $10.
Coffee fruit on the tree — Photo courtesy of LeafLanguages
The Doka Estate Coffee Tour will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about how coffee is grown and made, from the seed to the cup. Tours begins in the seedbed, where expert guides explain the varieties of coffee plants, as well as the local history and geography of coffee production.
From there, you'll visit the processing plant, which was declared an Architectural Heritage for Humanity site in 2003. The tour includes a visit to the roasting plant, Café Tres Generaciones and the gift shop, with the option of sampling the eight different blends made at Doka Estate.
Tours are offered Monday through Friday at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, tour times are the same, with the exception that there is no 3:30 p.m. tour.
Bags of Costa Rica's prized possession: coffee beans — Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica