Viva el Cafe 2018 (San Jose, Costa Rica)

Yesterday I had the opportunity to check out Viva el Cafe 2018 at Costa Rica’s National Stadium located in La Sabana District, a quick 15 minute car ride from downtown San Jose.

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For me, personally, this event was nowhere near the energy level that was Expo Cafe Tarrazu. Perhaps it was the large tent we were in that didn’t allow any sunlight in despite the beautiful weather outside. Or it may have been the bigger names in coffee that were at this event that didnt feel the need to “sell” the coffee they were passionate about and instead could simply stand behind their display, knowing customers would buy. Or perhaps it was the $4 entry fee that made the “free” Viva Cafe bag seem that much less desirable. Whatever the reason, the Tarrazu event was much more intimate, with smaller, family owned brands promoting a product they’re proud of.

Of course that’s not to say that there were not enthusiastic brands, excited to tell you about their coffee, there certainly were (with amazing coffee as well) , just to a lesser extent.

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Don Eli Coffee


Nonetheless, if you have an interest in coffee, it is worth the visit, especially if you live in San Jose. Unlike Expo Cafe that had beans just from the Tarrazu region, Viva Cafe had beans from all over Costa Rica, Single Origin, specialty blends, and even an anaerobic blend that had the fruttiest taste I had ever experienced with coffee (a bit too much for me, but I can see there being a market for it).

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Roblesabana Coffee


The best part of Viva Cafe 2018? Running into old friends from Cafe Doga! Back at it again with great coffee and amazing customer service. I don’t think Coffee brands were ranked based on hospitality at Viva Cafe, but if they were, Cafe Doga would win, without a doubt.

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Above is a $60,000 roaster that takes all of the guesswork out of roasting. Mr. Cercone and his company Espresso Latam SA are giving a roasting course using this futuristic roaster from 21-23 March in Alajuela, Costa Rica to anyone interested.


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Lastly, if fresh coffee and high-tech roasters aren’t enough to entice you, simple yet aesthetic coffee “gadgets” like the one seen above and below prove that Viva Cafe did in fact have something for everyone. Now if only they could have the event outside next year…

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Expo Cafe Tarrazu 2018 (San Marcos, Costa Rica)

As many of you may know, one of my biggest passions in life, besides sharing positive vibes, is coffee (see referenced coffee post here). There are so many aspects to the world of coffee. From growing it, to processing it, to exporting it, to even serving it, the possibilities are near endless. And with such a variety on growing conditions, processing procedures, and preparation methods, the possibilities are in fact endless. And with Costa Rica being the center of coffee culture, both historically and currently, it was a no brainer that I ended up here. Fortunately for me, just a few days after I arrived to Costa Rica, I learned that a pretty big coffee event was happening just 90 minutes South of San Jose, Expo Cafe Tarrazu 2018. Another no brainer.

Now, if you look at a map of Costa Rica, and see the distance between San Jose and San Marcos, where the event was being held, you might think, “Oh, only 60 km away, we’ll easily be there in under an hour.” Well if that is your first thought, then you, my friend, have never driven in Costa Rica.

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If you look at the map above, and compare it to the map below showcasing the distance between Virginia Beach and Richmond (and ignoring my low battery percentage of course) you will see that the second map, is nearly double the distance of the first, but takes roughly the same amount of time. Why? Well driving here is certainly not for the faint of heart. With sudden turns, dramatic inclines, two lanes abruptly turning into one, landslides, and misplaced guard rails that allow enough of an opening to let your imagination run wild, it’s no surprise that 60 km takes well over 90 minutes to trek through.

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Well, we were brave enough to make that trek today in search of coffee and we’re very glad we did. San Marcos/Tarrazu is located in a beautiful valley surrounded by the Talamanca Sierra Mountains. With a minimum altitude of just over 1300 meters above sea level, and a maximum of 3000 meters, the area is perfect for growing quality, high-land coffee. Its been said that the coffee grown in this region is the most desirable coffee in Costa Rica, which in turn makes it the most desirable coffee in the world. To prove as much, in 2012, coffee grown in Tarrazu was the most expensive coffee sold in Starbucks in The United States.

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Expo Cafe is held here annually and it consists of local producers showcasing the quality of their beans/coffee at various stands throughout the marketplace. Below are a few pictures from the event, with small pieces of info about the brand, and a link or email if I could find one. The event lasts a full two days and is supplemented with clothing stands, jewelry stands, and of course food stands, all Tico flavored.

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La Candelilla Estate


Some of the show casers, like Cafe Ave del Paraiso, are relatively new to the coffee scene, introducing fresh ideas and vibrant energy into coffee cultures. Others are more established, having been in operation for countless generations, defining the standards expected of the coffee bean from the region.


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Cafe Doga

Extremely friendly family with great recommendation for coffee, not just their own.


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Cafe De La Tia


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La Montaña Tarrazu Micromill

This photo above may have been one of my favorite pictures, but thanks to my sister’s….sorry, thanks to my camera’s mistake, the focus didn’t quite come out right. Nonetheless Ms. Tatiana Gutierrez was one of the most helpful and friendliest  owners I had the pleasure of meeting today (not to mention the coffee was outstanding) Really excited to get back down to Tarrazu to check out the source of their coffee!

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La Montaña Tarrazu Micromill

 

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Siglo XXI_______exportcafe2015@hotmail.com

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La Joya Cafe_______cafejoya@gmail.com

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Cafe Sol Naciente

Another producer I had the pleasure of meeting today, Arturo (pictured below), was actually studying Japanese and caught me off guard with a quick “Yokouso.” Very pleasant, down to earth guy that was obviously very knowledgable in the world of coffee. Of course to make things even better he had absolutely delicious coffee as well. Also looking forward to visiting this farm. Best of luck with your Japanese!

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Overall was an amazing event and I can’t wait until the next Expo Cafe. Took home a few beans today (from the three stands with great taste and excellent customer service) that I can’t wait to try first thing in the morning. Appreciate the amazing experience Tarrazu.

Costa Rica (コスタリカ)

Since I was about…6 years old, I dreamed about what it would be like to live in Costa Rica, my place of birth. Did the people live in tree houses alongside the spider monkeys? Was there a never ending supply of fresh fruit that tasted so delicious it would remind you what it felt like to be alive? Were the beaches and jungles as beautiful as the magazines made them seem?

私が6歳だった頃コスタリカに住むことを夢見ていた。ヤシの木がしげるビーチの家に、スパイダーモンキーが時折遊びに訪れるような、南国のフルーツや動物達と共に生き、雄大な自然に、人間としての”生”を思い出されるような、そんな経験をした事があるだろうか。

ー私の出生の地、コスタリカ。

 

Well, after completing a quick 5 year tour in The United States Navy, I finally decided to take the plunge and see what life was like in the country I spent so many nights dreaming about. And I can say without a doubt, everything I imagined as a kid, turned out to be true (even the spider monkey bit).

幼少期からアメリカで育ち、大学を出てからは、5年間の過酷な海軍生活を経て、本当の意味でこの先の人生をどう生きていくのか、考えていた。
そして思い描いていた通り、ここ、コスタリカに戻る決意をした。

The first few weeks here took quite a bit of adjusting naturally. Not even 30 days ago, I was in Japan, one of the safest countries in the world that had the most convenient public transportation system. Now I found myself in a beautiful third world country, where the buses are rarely on time and time is rarely a concern (seriously, it can be pretty frustrating when you need to get things done).

移住して来て、数週間。全てが順調で何事もスムーズに受け入れられた。
ーーわけではもちろん、ない。
たった何週間か前までは、日本に居たのだ。最も交通機関が正確で、最も治安の良いとされる国ー。
しかし、今となっては、バスが時間通りに来ることのない、美しい、美しい、もう一つの母国にいる。イライラすることが全く無いとは、お世辞でも言いづらい。真剣な事程、特に。

In this slightly expensive Latin American country, you’d be a fool to walk around downtown after sunset with your phone out. Hell, you’d be a fool to walk around downtown after sunset….In my humble opinion at least. Compare that with Japan where phones are left on trains for hours, and returned to the owner by the end of the day. On top of that…slight safety concern…. I had to figure out how to make the Spanish I had been speaking since birth (which apparently had somehow transformed to Mexican Spanish with a splash of Gringo during my time in America) sound more Tico.

ラテンアメリカの中では、物価が高く、中米の中では、比較的安全と言われるこの国でも、日没後にダウンタウンをスマホ歩きするなんてことは、本当にバカげている。少なくとも私の意見としては。
昼間でさえ携帯をいじりながら歩いている人は中々いない。
電車に携帯を置き忘れても、何時間後には持ち主の元へ戻って来るような、平和な国とは、わけが違うのだ。
私の中に確かにある、安全に対する懸念ー。そして、メキシコ訛りだと言われるスペイン語もどうにかしなくてはー。

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La Feria

Even with those negatives, there are so many more positives to this small country that make it a no brainer anyone that has a hint of wanderlust. Every weekend there is a Feria, or a Farmer’s Market, where you can buy any kind of fresh produce imaginable for dirt cheap. I’ve recently found out that I have a small addiction to papaya, and I’m able to satisfy that craving weekly, for two dollars (sometimes a dollar!) a papaya. Along with papaya, there’s pineapple, bananas, mango, guayabana, avocado, cilantro, lettuce, broccoli, you name it, its there.

そんな思考に浸りながらも、この小さな国には、ネガティヴな事を忘れさせてくれるような、心躍ることもある。
週末に開催される市場もその一つ。フレッシュで美味しい野菜や果物を安く買うことが出来る。
最近ではもっぱらパパイヤにハマっている。1つ2$、安い時は1$程度で食べられる!!!
パパイヤの他にもパイナップル、バナナ、マンゴー、グァナバナなど南国フルーツが目白押し、野菜もアボカドやレタス、ブロッコリーなどいろいろある。

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Playa Ballena in Manuel Antonio

What’s even better than the abundance of fresh produce in this country is the nature. Living in the capital, San Jose, you are a quick 2 to 3, sometimes 4, hour drive to countless beaches like Playa Ballena seen above that will be almost impossible to forget. If you are more of a hiking/jungle person, Costa Rica has that as well. It seems like besides fast internet and easy to understand cell phone plans, Costa Rica has it all (including of course coffee beans but we’ll get to that later).

この国で何より満喫できるのは、自然の富だろう。首都、サンホセから2〜4時間のドライブで数え切れないほどの美しいビーチがあり、毎週でも遊びに行くことができる。もし、ハイキングやキャンプが好きなら、山に登ったり、森林浴にも気軽に行けるのだ。

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Spider Monkey outside my hotel

I’m not sure how long I will be here, perhaps as long as it keeps me out of Corporate America. But I am sure, that I’ll enjoy my time here and share what I can with you guys. If you have any questions about the country, travel ideas, or need some recommendations, don’t hesitate to send me an email and I’ll get that information to you. Look forward to hearing from you guys. Pura Vida mae.

まだここにどれ程滞在するかはわからない。ただ、私がアメリカで働きたいと思わない限りは、自分の人生を楽しみながら、ここでのことを共有していくつもりでいる。

もしこの国のことや、旅行のアドバイスなど聞きたいことがあれば、いつでも気軽にメッセージしてください。みなさんからのご意見、お待ちしています。

Pura Vida mae.