Café Döga Tour

This weekend I had the honor of touring Biocafe Oro Tarrazu, located just an hour and half south of San Jose. Being March, most of the coffee had already been picked, processed, dried, and stored, however, we were still able to see all of the equipment and process of how everything functioned.

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My sister’s car that is capable of driving up a 70 degree incline

The harvest season in Costa Rica is generally from December to March. Workers arrive from Nicaragua and Panama to pick the fruit, which is then sent to the processing plant via truck.

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Drying fields for sun-dried coffee

Upon arrival at the plant, the coffee is sorted, stripped of its outer layers (depending on the wash [we’ll get into that in a following post]), and dried. Cafe Doga uses mostly water, gravity, and sun to achieve these goals with a “home-made” engineered system.

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Altitude – 1475m

The fruit is placed into these storage tanks which sorts and temporarily holds the beans until they are ready to be sent, via water, to the “de-pulper.”

 

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Top pipe is return water line, bottom pipe is coffee feed line

After the fruit is transferred, it is stripped of its outer layer (unless it is a natural process which we will get into later) and sorted based on quality. Sitting in water, the beans that float are not yet ripe and are pushed down the line, to be collected in another section and used “Para la casa” instead of being sold or exported.

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The heavier, better quality beans, fall through the small slits in a rotating drum and are collected at the bottom on a wheel barrel. The water that brought the fruit to this stage is then recycled back to the beginning to be reused on the next batch.

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The coffee is then taken to be dried on African Beds or concrete flooring. African beds are an elevated lining that provides a porous underside, which allows air to flow upwards into the beans, helping prevent moulding and fermentation. On concrete flooring, the beans are also dried by the heat of the ground, however, since there is no airflow as found in African Bedding, the beans must be raked many times a day. Both concrete and African beds take just over 10 days to fully cool the beans.

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Interestingly enough, upon arrival to BioCafe Oro Tarrazu, coffee beans usually have a moisture level of about 50%. By the time they are bagged and ready to be shipped, they are sitting at 10.5%. Too much moisture and the risk of mould increases, as does the amount of money the buyer pays for each bean. Too little moisture, the coffee will lose most of its flavor and the farmer will earn less per bean.

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From fruit to green bean

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Once coffee reaches the desired level of moisture, it is stripped of any leftover casing and bagged, ready to be sold. They must be stored with extreme caution, as extra moisture in the bag could spoil the entire shipment.

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Although Cafe Doga is a small, family owned coffee estate, they do provide quality coffee that is carefully processed. Compared to the other estates in the area they are relatively new, but have already made a name for themselves in Costa Rica coffee.

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Leftover dominos set used by workers from Nicaragua and Panama

Also, Cafe Doga has started a quite intriguing Ponche de Cafe line. They offer a liquor filled and alcohol free version of the cold milk coffee beverage. I was pretty exhausted from the tour that I didn’t realize which one I had, but I do remember that it tasted amazing.

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Poncha de Cafe

To the family of Cafe Doga and Biocafe Oro Tarrazu, specifically Mrs. Vargas and Ms. Madrigal, I can’t thank you guys enough for your warm hospitality and an opportunity to see a part of coffee that not many people get to experience. Look forward to running into you guys at the next coffee event!

If you’re interested in contacting Cafe Doga for more information or would like to purchase some coffee, check out their Facebook. Ask them how they came up with the name Doga! Interesting history behind it.

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Sanitorio Duran (デュラン療養所)

This past Thursday, my sister and I were finally able to check out this pretty cool, “Off The Beaten Path” spot in Costa Rica I had been wanting to see for a while.

Located just 7km North of Cartago, and under an hour drive away from San Jose, El Sanitorio Duran was constructed in 1918 by Dr. Carlos Duran Cartin to treat Tuberculosis patients as well as an asylum for the mentally ill. The location was chosen due to its high altitude, intermittent winds, cool temperatures, and of course, its isolation. At its peak, Sanitorio Duran had 300 beds available for patients, different sections for men, women, and children, and a Religious Convent where Nuns came to bless and pray for the patients.

Unfortunately, well, rather fortunately, treatment for Tuberculosis worldwide saw great improvement during the mid 20th century. Due to a lack of patients, the sanitorium was shut down in 1963, and fully abandoned in 1970.

As a push to promote tourism in the area, the Sanitorium was opened for public touring in 2010 and the once abandoned building gets hundreds of visitors each month for a small fee of 1200 colones (roughly $2.50). My sister and I hand the gate attendant, who looks absolutely thrilled to be working this day (heavy sarcasm), our money and proceed to drive into the parking lot.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetBeing a Thursday, we didn’t expect too many people; however, only seeing one other car in the dirt parking lot was a bit unnerving. With a smile on my face, I looked over at my sister who was wearing the “I can’t believe I’m going inside” face a bit too loudly.

At the base of the steps to enter The Sanitorium, there was a tour guide, standing, waiting for what appears to be her only visitors for the day. She is dressed in all black business casual attire with a wooden rosary worn around her neck. She asks us our names, where we are from, and if we’ve ever been here before. Being the jokester that I am, I always like to give a very ethnic name when I’m asked that by strangers I’ll probably never see again. “Alejandro Fernandez, I’m Tico but I live in Canada.” My sister, having heard this one too many times simply shakes her head and just says, “Really Alejandro?”

Processed with VSCO with a8 presetThe lady then asks us to leave all smart phones and iPads in the car so we don’t deface property. “How can we deface property with an iPhone?” my sister rightfully asks. “Well, we’ve had a serious problem with graffiti ever since we opened to the public for tours. Kids will “tag” the walls with spray and put it on facebook live as some sort of bet. They do worse things, but unfortunately, graffiti is much more permanent.” “Ah, I understand,” replies my sister, as she turns her head to me, “Ok, A-Le-Han-Dro, would you mind taking my phone to the car along with yours?” A bit embarrassed that my sister may have just informed the tour guide that Alejandro isn’t my real name I smartly reply, ” Ok. Herrrr-Maahhhh-Nahhhh (“sister” for the Spanish troubled)….”

Walking back to the steps after dropping our phones off in the car, a couple walks out of the exit to The Sanitorio. Of course, Costa Rica being as small of a country as it is, my sister just happens to the know the girl in the group. “OMG!!! Hey!!!!How crazy is it running into you here!? How was it!? Scary?! How are the kids!? Yada yada yada….”

After patiently waiting for what seemed like an eternity, I politely ask if we can see the sanitorium any time soon. My sister, scowling, tells me to just go in by myself and she’ll catch up later. “Yeah, but then the tour guide is going to have to explain everything twice, and I’m going to have to see everything twice, and….wait, are you just trying to get out of going inside? We drove all this way.” “Absolutely not,” she replies, “I havent seen Jennifer in months. I’ll be quick, I promise. Just start without me.” I look at the tour guide who gently shakes her head, pressing her lips up “It wont be a problem, we’re not that busy today.”

The tour guide hands me an electronic scanner card to use to get in and out of the building, I’m assuming to combat the graffiti issue when the tours are closed. She explains that after she gives me a tour of the main building, I’m free to walk around to the adjacent buildings and take pictures as I please with my camera or just stroll around.

We walk in and the first thing you notice is the graffiti. Different names in spanish fill the walls, robbing the place of some of its natural beauty. There are a few Carlos, David, even a few Alejandros, my borrowed name for the day. The next thing you notice is the paint peeling on every single wall and the breeze that blows through the windowless building definitely calling for a sweater, something I did not bring with me.

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The tour guide, who I just now realized never introduced herself, begins explaining the history of the building. How Dr. Duran’s daughter contracted tuberculosis in the early 1900s, inspiring him to build the estate. She explained how construction began in 1915, and was scheduled to finish in 1917; however, a death on the property delayed work for an entire year.

According to her, (and believe me, I was skeptical), one of the construction workers building the Sanitorium was in a ridiculous amount of debt back in San Jose due to his gambling and drinking problems. In order to pay off his debt, he agreed to “sell” his wife to his creditors whenever they requested it in exchange for reducing some of the debt he owed. Apparently, he was laughing, telling one of his construction-mates about his easy method for getting out of payments and one of the nuns that was helping to prepare the Convent, overheard, and demanded that he bring his wife to the site for her safety, or else she threatened to tell Dr. Duran, an upstanding man by all accounts, of his sins. The man, being the upstanding man that HE was, spat in her face and told her “Some secrets are better kept between God and his devils.”

The Nun stormed off, determined to have this man fired, jailed, and perhaps excommunicated from the church. The next day, everyone came to work and noticed that this guy never showed up to work. The Nun, normally seen blessing everyone for doing God’s work, never arrived on site either. The weeks went on with no signs of either, and everyone kept asking questions, but no one had a definitive answer. It was everyone’s assumption that the man had killed the nun, but no news of it ever came. That was until construction called for a new well to be drilled, just outside the proposed entrance to The Sanitorium. A handful of innocent, unexpecting shovels started penetrating the dirt. Slowly and suddenly, a rancid smell swept through the entire construction site. The local priest, San Jose Police, and Dr. Duran were called to the scene. It was, of course, the nurse that was found, buried, strangled to death, with her ears cut off and jammed into her teeth in a most gruesome fashion.

Construction was put on an immediate halt until the City of San Jose Police could conduct an official investigation. After a year of searching, all of the evidence pointed back to the man in debt, but, he and his family were never seen or heard of again. According to the tour guide, ever since then, a woman has appeared various times in The Sanitorium. Interns reported hearing a women that would appear on cold and windy nights to bless the patients. During especially dark nights, patients would believe they saw a figure at the corner of their room that would whisper, “Believe.” Even today, during the later hours of the afternoon, on cloudier days, visitors report seeing shadows at the end of hallways that disappear after a few seconds.

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I didn’t believe ANY of it, and I think the tour guide could see it on my face. “Do you believe in the supernatural Alejandro?” “Not. At. All. I’ll watch a good scary movie and be a bit shaken afterwards, but I’m not one to believe in non-scientific,un-proven things.” “Well Alejandro, do you believe in God?” she impolitely asks. I let out a half chuckle to convey my slight irritation, “No, I went to Catholic school, but no.” “I see,” she responds, clearly offended. I knew I was in a Latin American country with less tolerance for agnostic beliefs, but….she asked….

“Well, that’s the end of the tour, feel free to see anything else you like,” she said with a smile on her face. I thanked her sincerely for the tour and the attempted spook as I walked off. The rest of the building looks interesting enough. You can see what used to be showers and sleeping areas, as well as what used to be nice garden areas outside. I use my electronic scanner card to gain access to the stairs that lead to the second floor. I look back at the tour guide to make sure I’m not trespassing on any off limit areas, and she simply smiles and waves.

I get to the top of the stairs and I realize that my sister, is still, not, in, the damn building. I poke my head out of the second floor window, and what do you know, still, talking. I yell, “That better be an important conversation, you’re missing out on quality family time.” She looks up and says “I knowwww I knowww, I’m almost finished, I’m sorry!” As I start to pull my head back from the window, I see the tour guide walk outside and join the conversation with my sister and her friend. “They obviously aren’t that concerned with graffiti,” I mumble to myself.

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I continue to explore the rest of the paint peeled, graffiti filled Sanitorium and I realize that I’m actually a bit spooked out. I wasnt sure if it was the gaps in the murder/haunting story that I was filling in for myself, or if it was the fact that I was the only one in the building that was spooking me out more, but I knew I was ready to get out. The only problem was, I hadn’t really taken that many pictures since I felt rude taking them while the tour guide was talking, and I wanted to get some before leaving.

I pick up the pace a bit, and start looking for interesting rooms to take pictures of down this long hallway on the second floor. The wind continues its howl through the building, at times shaking the wooden frame. I hear a door close and I KNOW it’s the wind, but I would be lying if I didn’t picture the Nun in my head closing doors behind me. I check back outside, hoping to ease my mind by not being able to see my sister and the tour guide, but nope, everyone is still outside. I try to yell, but I have no idea what I would say. Nothing needs to be said, and I’m afraid a small tremble in my voice would betray my attempt to not be afraid. I decide I’m going to take two more pictures and get the hell out of there.

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I see two pictures that I want to take. I take the first picture, then quickly take the second picture. As I pull my face away from my camera, I see the tour guide standing in the room across the hall in her black business attire with her wooden rosary clenched in her hand. I greet her, partially relieved that I’m not alone anymore, partially creeped out that I didn’t hear her come in. “How’d you get in without making any noise?” I nervously ask her. She smiles and calmly replies, “I don’t recognize you Mario.”

Mario? Well, I guess my sister somehow mentioned my real name while she was outside. I laugh “I guess you found out my real name huh?” ……No response. Her eyes dig into mine as she lowers her chin and moves closer to the doorway. I look around awkwardly, thinking this is pretty corny to try to take the spook factor this far. “Okay, well, I think I’m going to head out now. Thanks for everything, really.” Again…..No reply.

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My palms are beginning to sweat a little. I can feel my breathes shortening as I try to rationalize this crazy woman standing in front of me. I for damn sure know it’s not a ghost, but who’s to say I’m not about to be murdered at a tourist attraction by some psycho woman who needs entertainment. As to be expected from a crazy woman, she suddenly throws her wooden rosary down the hall. What. The. Fuck. My skin begins to get prickly, I rush back towards the window in fear, heart about to explode out of my chest and yell out my sisters name. Three people look up. My sister, her friend, and the god, damn, tour guide. I turn back around and see no one.

At this point I’m sweating, I poke my head out into the hallway. The wooden rosary is on the floor, broken into little pieces. I sprint down the hallway. Out of the corner of my right eye, I can see a shadow in the corner of every room I pass on the right. I slam into the door leading to the stairs. It won’t open. I try to swipe my card. It won’t work. I can’t control the shaking in my hands. I start slamming my body into the door. I feel a presence on the back of my neck. I wipe the sweat away. I can feel her watching me when I’m not looking. Every second or third slam, I turn around to see if anything is there. I don’t see anything but I can feel her getting closer. I try to swipe my card again. Nothing. I slam my body into the door.

I can feel her standing right behind me and I dare not look. I start pounding on the door. I hear a whisper “I don’t recognize you Mario.” Tears fill my eyes. The hairs on my neck stand up and I feel a hand on my shoulder. I bang on the door harder, screaming for help in between breathes. Suddenly, finally, the tour guide opens the door, looks right past me. She allows her eyes to widen momentarily in shock before catching herself. She looks at me with concern and asks , “Alejandro, Is everything ok?” Tears in my eyes, I start to stammer, “I..” but I can only get one word out at a time in between breaths. I inch myself towards the exit and slowly turn my head around. Nothing. No woman. No broken rosary. Nothing.

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I walk downstairs and exit the Sanitorium. Sweat all over my shirt and face, and hands still shaking, my sister asks “Dude are you ok?” “Lets just get out of here,” I tersely reply. My sister says bye to the tour guide and her friend and we get in the car and head back towards the city. It wasn’t until I got home that I looked through my pictures and I saw her, in my last picture, standing at the end of the hallway.

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History of Coffee in Costa Rica (コーヒーの歴史)

You can’t talk about the history of Costa Rica without mentioning coffee. In fact, if it wasn’t for coffee, Costa Rica may have suffered the same fate as The Mosquito Kingdom, a place you’ve never even heard about! Fortunately, Costa Rica possessed all of the natural ingredients for producing the savory bean we know and love today.

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As with just about any “first” in history, there is still much debate about how the first coffee bean arrived in Costa Rica. Some say that the first seeds were brought from Jamaica by a sea captain under orders of the Costa Rican governor. Others, insist the bean emigrated from Panama or Cuba at the end of the 18th century. Still others argue that the bean was transported directly from Ethiopia in 1779, the theory of which I am personally least convinced. You can be the judge of which story seems most probable. Regardless, it is well known that in the beginning of the 19th Century, the Costa Rican government saw the potential value that the coffee bean had and highly encouraged its production.

After Costa Rica’s (read: Central America) independence from Spain, the government began offering plots of land to anyone that was willing to grow and harvest the plant. With fertile volcanic soil, favorable temperatures year round, a varying elevations, the crop grew quite easily in the country. By the end of 1821, there were over 17,000 coffee plants in the nation, producing a crop that, for the most part, was still not being exported. In 1825, in an effort to promote growth in coffee production, the government exempted coffee harvesters from paying a tithe. Four years later, coffee became the leading crop in production, easily surpassing cacao, tobacco, and sugar.

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By 1832, Costa Rica finally began “exporting” coffee. The bean was sent to Chile, where it was rebagged and renamed “Café Chile del Paraiso” and then sent to Europe. After learning of “Cafe Chile del Paraiso’s” coffee bean’s true origin, an Englishman by the name of William Lacheur arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica to negotiate the purchase  of Costa Rican coffee beans. Don Santiago Fernandez Hidalgo, the owner of the farm prospective exporting farm, was suspicious of this Englishman and his “promise to return with silver” in exchange for his coffee beans. In 1843 he allowed Mr. Lacheur to take over 5,000 sacks of coffee and set sail for England under the watchful eyes of a Costa Rican trade specialist. Six months later, both men returned, paid the coffee growers in pounds in sterling and fully loaded another two ships for export. England had acquired a taste for Costa Rican coffee and a new market had been discovered.

Cultivation of coffee in the early 1800s had transformed Costa Rica from a remote, struggling country to a leading exporter, allowing a stable middle class and a wealthy coffee oligarchy to form. By 1850, coffee comprised over 90% of Costa Rica’s exports. The coffee industry transformed the economy and modernized the country. The revenue generated funded the first railroads connecting the capital to the Atlantic coast in 1890. In 1897 it funded the building of The National Theater in San Jose (modeled after a Paris Opera House). Thanks to the revenue brought in from coffee, Costa Rica was one of the first cities in the world to have an electric lighting system in 1884.

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The National Theater located in Downtown San Jose

After World War 2, the demands for Costa Rican coffee was steadily increasing and productivity was falling short. The Typica and Bourbon varieties of low productivity, were replaced with small caturra and catui varieties. This led to an increase from just over 10,000 coffee plants per hectare to an average of over 30,000 plants per hectare. By the late 1980s, coffee production had increased from 158,000 tons to 168,000 tons.

Today, coffee is the third largest export in the country, behind Medical Equipment and tropical fruit. It accounts for 3% of exports at an export value of $308 Million. The top importers of Costa Rican coffee are the US (52%, $161M), Belgium (14%,$44.2M), Germany (4.1%, $12.5M), Italy (3.6%, $11.2M), and Australia (3.5%, $10.7M). Japan is 10th on the list at 1.8%, $5.63M. Still, with so much revenue generated from coffee exports, Costa Rica provides less than 1% of the world’s coffee production! However, the per capita consumption of coffee in Costa Rica is the highest of all coffee producing countries in the world.

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If you find yourself in Costa Rica and would like to learn more about Costa Rican coffee, there are plenty of coffee farm tours available throughout the 8 coffee producing regions (Central Valley, Tres Rios, Tarrazu, West Valley, Guanacaste, Turrialba, Brunca, and Orosi). Or you could take a coffee tour at Britt Coffee in Heredia, a quick 20 to 30 minute drive from San Jose, depending on traffic. If neither of those sound interesting to you, then head over to Barrio Escalante and check out some of the new, up and coming 3rd wave café’s that have coffee from all over Costa Rica in different plant varieties, washes, and roasts. The coolest part about Barrio Esclante is you can still see some coffee plants on the sides of buildings and restaurants, remnants of the first coffee farms in Costa Rica.

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Me (probably) looking for coffee in Manuel Antonio (2014)

Send us a like on Facebook if you enjoyed the article. If you didn’t, let us know why. If you hated the article, then you’re probably not going to enjoy any of my other content, but I could be wrong!

Sources:

Wikipedia

ICAFE

Roblesabana Cofffee

Me

Street Directory

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.