Costa Rica · Food · Travel

Costa Rica: Day 0.5 – Get to know your coffee

Pop Quiz:

My first 3 hours in Costa Rica I learned that:

a) I don’t have the balls to hang out in a foreign city while my husband is shipped back to Denver after 12 hours of travel, no sleep and no breakfast.

b) Mary at Frontier Airlines is a saint.

c) Life goes on even if your house is sliding down a hill.

d) Who needs breakfast (or lunch) when you have coffee.

e) All of the above.

Answer after the jump!

The answer is E!

There was a near disaster relating to my husband’s admission into the fine nation of Costa Rica, which St. Mary resolved. We got lost on the way to a coffee plantation only to discover a real disaster in a town that was wrecked by that earthquake that hit a week before we departed our blustery climes for some tropical therapy. All of the homes were tilted to the right and down the hill they were built on – that mother earth can be a bitch when she wants to be.

At long last (we also learned that Costa Rican roads and attractions are notoriously poorly marked) we found the Doka coffee Estate, which on our map was just north of Alajuela on the way to Volcan Poas, which it may have been. You know you’re in trouble when the signs to the volcano guide you to make 4 lefts.

It was only appropriate that we found the back way in, down a steep, barely-one-lane, unpaved road. We drove through the plantation past the Nicaraguan pickers and straight up to the back side of the main gate. Awesome.

But they wanted our money and so let us in. My first coffee tour! Yay! We got to see little starter plants:

And ripe coffee fruits:

We got to tour the factory, which wasn’t running because their water supply was interrupted by the earthquake:

And see how they dry the sorted beans:

And how they store beans:

And how they dump beans out of the truck:

Of course we got to sample coffee (my favorite part). And it turns out that Doka Estates supplies most of it’s first quality beans to Starbucks for its Costa Rica blend. So now I will feel a little smug when I pick up some Costa Rica beans from Starbucks, knowing it would be a jerk thing to tell the person I buy it from that I went to the plantation where that coffee came from, but also a bit disappointed knowing she would never think to ask. Or I’ll just order some of my own beans online. Or I’ll just continue to walk the half a block to Blue Line for my organic fair trade crack.

Luckily our $36 covered admission into Doka’s up-and-coming butterfly house. A nice guy from Minneapolis took our photo, but I was pale and puffy-eyed and slime-toothed. So here’s one of the classic Blue Morphos of Costa Rica:

Apparently their wings aren’t really blue. Magic.

Yet as magical as it was, there was the task of finding the Pan-American Highway and taking it all the way to Playa Hermosa looming ahead of us. It was nearly noon at this point, and the adventure had just begun!

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