Costa Rica is famous for being a beautiful, eco-friendly country. Surrounded by water and composed of dense tropical forests and substantial volcanoes, Costa Rica is rich in biodiversity. Tourists flock to the area to experience these elements of nature at their finest while soaking up the pura vida lifestyle. These elements lend themselves to yet another thing which Costa Rica is famous for – coffee!
Costa Rican coffee is consumed across the globe. It is one of the area’s most notable products and is exported at high rates. Part of what gives it its signature taste is the richness acquired from the coffee plants growing in the volcanic soil. In fact, coffee growers in Costa Rica are known for planting banana plants next to coffee plants to help absorb some of the potassium.
Costa Rica’s Coffee Is World Famous
There are numerous coffee plantations in the country. We were fortunate to spend an afternoon touring Don Juan Coffee Plantation in Monteverde. Not only was this a great opportunity to learn about their products (all three of them!), but we learned about their eco-friendly, sustainable business. As I was working on my Master of Sustainable Tourism degree at the time, I was very excited to visit Don Juan and learn about their operations.
Our tour was comprehensive. We started with a traditional casado for lunch. For those who don’t know, a casado is a Costa Rican meal consisting of rice, beans, plantains, salad, tortillas, and usually some sort of meat. They are hearty and tasty and filling. Lunch also included ice cream and, of course, coffee!
Our friendly guide was well versed in the plantations operations. We walked through each area of Don Juan’s grounds and learned about each process from start to finish. As I mentioned earlier, Don Juan’s produces three total products. It was only fitting that we started our tour with the sweet stuff!
The first area we explored was chocolate. And, what a treat it was! We saw the entire chocolate making process from start to finish. Neither of us were keen on the slimy texture of the raw cocoa bean, but we still sampled them. We feel its important to try new things during our travels. Learning about the chocolate making process included everything from growing to extraction, grinding, sweetening and, finally, tasting! Much more work goes into creating the perfect chocolate than most people imagine.
While the chocolate production was plenty sweet, Don Juan took it up a notch with pure Costa Rican sugar. Our guide cut off fresh chunks of sugar cane for each visitor to suck on. This was our first time experiencing fresh sugar cane. I had no idea how juicy a little sliver of it could be. They explained their various uses for fresh sugar cane, including using it to sweeten their chocolate. Making the experience even better, we took turns extracting the juice through a traditional press machine. Let me tell you, it is much harder than it looks!
Obviously, coffee is Don Juan’s specialty. They are passionate about their product. It is evident in how they care for their plants and the pride they take in their final product. Of particular interest to me is how they care for the people who work for them and help in coffee production. Unlike many other plantations in the area, Don Juan’s beans are only picked by hand during peak-season to ensure freshness. Typically, most plantations bring in workers from neighboring Panama and Nicaragua because they can pay them less. Don Juan hires only local Costa Ricans and pays them at a higher rate. Considerations and actions like this are one of many things they do to make their business sustainable. They also continue using the traditional methods and equipment instead of modernizing their operations.
This plantation was one of the highlights of our time spent in Costa Rica. We even met the man himself, Don Juan! Like many other traditions they maintain on their plantation, he makes sure to greet every tour group that pays a visit.
We enjoyed this tour and came out knowing so much more about their processes, products and sustainability efforts. Not only do they hire local workers and pay them fairly, but they also work to conserve water, maintain biodiversity, and support their local community. These are huge contributors to a sustainable business and a great tourism draw. We even got to spend some time on the decks soaking up the Costa Rican sun with the smell of freshly roasted coffee in the air.
Have you tried Costa Rican coffee? What about taking a plantation tour? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
Looking for the perfect hotel in Monteverde? We loved our stay at the sustainable and eco-friendly Monteverde Country Lodge. Click HERE to learn more and book your stay today!
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Very interesting article, along with great pictures! Thank you for sharing.
Glad you enjoyed!
What a great opportunity! I would love to have seen the chocolate process. I don’t drink coffee but I just love the smell of it so I would have been in heaven. Great article!
Agreed on the coffee! It was cool to see the chocolate process too – I love chocolate!
What an interesting experience! I love coffee and have watched videos of harvesting it, but would love to see the process first-hand. Very cool!
I love the smell of coffee! It was so cool to see how they managed everything here!
A great post. Looks like a very interesting place.
Thanks! We had so much fun here!!
Mmmmmmmm. I can almost smell the coffee beans! ~ Sage Scott, the Everyday Wanderer
And oh do I love that smell too!
I am a coffee lover and the title itself grabbed my attention! Very well written article with some great details!
I love that they have an eco-friendly, sustainable business! Would be great to visit a plantation one day (as well as Costa Rica)! I´m pretty sure I´ve tried Costa Rican coffee in Europe, but I guess the market is dominated by multinationals and you don´t get to try an authentic coffee everywhere! Really enjoyed your post! #FeetDoTravel
Ugh, so wonderfully done. I usually don’t repeat countries because there’s so much to see in the world. However, I genuinely loved Costa Rica..AND I DIDN’T DO THE PLANTATION TOUR, so now you’ve made it official for me… I need to go back. Costa Rica has a certain “magic” and your experiences and photos brought it all back for me…teary eyed! Love your style and love this blog. Can’t wait to check out your other stuff! (FTB)
I have to admit, you had me at coffee! I would love the smell of this experience for sure!
Costa Rica is on our never ending list! What a great tour! We’ve tried raw sugar cane, but never raw chocolate, how interesting to see the chocolate making process, the end tasting certainly looks better than the raw bean. The smell of coffee in the air sounds great too 🙂
I love Costa Rican coffee! We visited a plantation, and sampled their coffee, and it was the best I ever tasted. They only had coffee, no chocolate, and we didn’t take a tour, they didn’t offer it the day we were there unfortunately. I would’ve loved to do it. It’s on my list for next time.
Mmmmmmmm, coffee. This is definitely on my list of things to do when planning Costa Rica! Pinned for later use. 🙂
As soon as you said Costa Rican coffee, my first thought was, is it eco-friendly?/animal-friendly? And sure enough you answered that right off the bat! Definitely piqued my interest and I know my husband would enjoy exploring the coffee plantations as he’s a big coffeeholic! #FeetDoTravel
What an interesting read! We took a coffee finca tour in Colombia and it just blows my mind how much work and dedication goes into each cup. We really don’t appreciate it enough.
Your wonderful description of Costa Rica makes me what to get on a plane RIGHT NOW.
Thanks for sharing this post for #followfriday with #feetdotravel.
Oh my — coffee AND chocolate! This is my kind of tour! I would love this one!
I would love to take this tour, thanks for sharing! It’s really interesting how the soil really does affect the flavor. Had no idea about the volcanic ash and bananas that help make Costa Rica coffee unique!
It’s all about the potassium!
How fascinating to learn about the process of coffee making at the Don Juan farm along with what they do to be sustainable. Learning about the chocolate process is very interesting. I have always wanted to try a raw cocoa bean. I am sorry to have missed this tour while in Costa Rica. Thanks for sharing! #feetdotravel
I guess I’ve given you a reason to go back to Costa Rica now!
Costa Rica is such a beautiful country. What a wonderful experience. I’ve visited the coffee farms in Colombia, but it’s interesting to learn what makes each growing area unique as well as the history behind the crop.
Columbia is high on our list of places to visit – I’m sure their coffee plantations are out of this world!
This sounds like an awesome tour. I love that they hire only locals and pay them at a higher rate. That alone makes me want to support their business. I have never tasted raw cocoa but I don’t think I would like it much either. LOL! Thanks for a great share!
I’m not a coffee fan, but I am a choco-holic. I find it absolutely fascinating how cocoa beans with their weird texture and taste turn into the chocolate we know and love! Haha. I love that they are a local business too!!
I am not a coffee fan either, but learning about the process was still fascinating. Maybe that’s because I knew chocolate would be involved too!
Costa Rica is one of the nicest Latin American countries – and so easy to travel, too. I’ve tasted raw cocoa in Cuba – and bought a couple of products. Loving in it coffee, too.
Cuban chocolate in coffee? That sounds like a heavenly chocolate mocha to me!
Coffee and chocolate sounds like the perfect day for me 😀 I would love to go to Costa Rica – mainly for waterfalls and wildlife but I will now be adding this to the list!
Costa Rica is a wonderful country with so much to offer!
I’m planning a trip to Costa Rica next year for my birthday and I love coffee, so I’ll definitely have to add this tour to my itinerary!
I never tried coffee from Costa Rica, but after reading this article I am definitely inspired to do it! fantastic experience and great article! Well done!
We love to find new great coffee when we travel. And we know that Costa Rica has great coffee. So we would definitely plan to tour the Don Juan Coffee Plantation. Interesting to read about how they have made this a eco-friendly sustainable business. And to get chocolate too would be a real treat!
I love exploring a place through its food. What a great job you’ve done describing the rich food and the culture attached to it in Don Juan. Coffee, chocolate, sugar – that is the gooood stuff!
What a fun experience! I didn’t think to look into a coffee or chocolate farm while visiting costa rica but definitely want to do this if I make it back!