Coffee has been the driving force in the Costa Rican economy long before Four Seasons set up shop in Papagayo. The former mansions of coffee barons are now some of the best hotels in San Jose and coffee tours to a number of large plantations are spread around the country from Monteverde to the Caribbean coast. Many are just minutes from the capital. The best is from Café Britt, who has a number of coffee tours from their roastery and plantation in Heredía, Costa Rica.
The name Café Britt is synonymous with coffee in Costa Rica and Peru, where bags of their product can be found all over the airport, gift shops, and the finest grocery stores in both countries. The company was the first producer of gourmet coffee in Costa Rica. Since 1991, more than a million visitors have gone through the tour in Heredia, just 20 minutes from downtown San Jose. Actors posing as plantation workers take you through the process step by step, describing the different types of coffees, acting out funny skits and presentations, and a gourmet lunch followed by of course, coffee. Tours are given in both English and Spanish.
The tour is divided by:
–Touring the Organic coffee plantation
–Visitng the Roastery
–Coffee cupping demonstration
–Barista cappuccino preparation exhibition
–Buffet lunch, at the Don Prospero on site restaurant, featuring fresh coffee, fruit, and an array of wonderfully prepared local dishes.
Where: To get to Heredia you can go by public bus, taxi, tram (beginning in 2010), or by Café Britt’s own pickup service that costs $8.
Price: The tour is $19 and includes lunch.
La Casita Coffee Store: At the end of the tour you will be able to purchase bags of any of Café Britt’s Costa Rican coffees which include: Dark Roast, Light Roast, Decaffeinated, Espresso Roast, Organic Shade Grown, Volcanic Earth, Montecielo, and Tres Rios. There’s also one of a kind Costa Rican souvenirs, coffee presses, macadamia nuts, salsas, clothing, handicrafts, and music.
Other tours: A full day, more involved Coffee Lovers Tour is offered year round and includes everything above but also a tasting session of eight coffees and a macadamia drink with Café Britt’s coffee ‘’sommelier’’ and a visit to the Tierra Madre wet mill. Other tours combine visits to a nearby Butterfly Farm.
For more information or reservations, visit: www.cafebritt.com. Tours can also be arrnaged through almost any tour operator in San Jose. If interested, you can also buy Cafe Britt coffee from outside of Costa Rica: 100% Fair Trade Certified gourmet coffee by Café Britt – Shop NOW
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.