At 7:00am we loaded the bus to San Miguel de Sarapiqui where we began our tour of Mi Cafecito. This coffee co-op is an organic, fair trade, 100% Costa Rican owned and operated facility. They are made up of 137 farmers from the northern region of Costa Rica and they only grow Arabica coffee because it is the best quality coffee bean.
The tiny coffee seedling is known as a “soldero” or soldier, the sapling is called “la mariposa” because the leaves resemble a butterfly, and as 6 months, the coffee plant can be planted in the field. It will be able to be harvested at 3 years.
Tina picking coffee berries!
Red coffee beans mean they are ripe (primary quality). Green are secondary quality (not ripe).
Walter, our coffee tour guide showed us how to pick ripe coffee berries and distinguish between primary and secondary quality. Coffee in Costa Rica grows best at 600-2,000 meter elevation, near volcanoes (we happened to be near 3 dormant ones), and a low soil pH. This combination creates a perfect soil cocktail for a rich Arabica coffee bean! The coffee can be considered “shade grown” due to the banana and Pora trees that are planted between the coffee plants. The banana trees act as shade as well as provide water in the hotter months and a delicious distraction to birds wanting a caffeinated snack. The Poro trees provide necessary nitrogen to the soil as well as shade.
I found some peaberry! This is a natural mutation to the coffee bean that results in only one bean per coffee berry instead of two. Think of it as Siamese twins coffee style!
Drying out the coffee beans (without the skin but still in the shell).
Costa Rican workers only get 1,000 colones ($2) per bucket (the one he is holding)!
Mi Cafecito also grows and sells sugarcane and sugarcane juice (see sugarcane press above). They also ferment the sugarcane juice and make sugarcane BOOZE! Yes, we got to try it- tastes like rum!
Yum! Sugarcane Rum!
Post tour we got to taste the delicious coffee first hand! Water was boiled on a wood fired stove and percolated through what looks like a sock.
Coffee in Costa Rica is always served with a snack. Homemade corn tortillas with white cheese and plantain mash- delicioso!