Travel

Costa Rica: The Life Monteverde Coffee Tour

DSC_0499After about two full days of reading The Hunger Games trilogy while taking breaks to nap on an outdoor hammock, my mind began to wonder and I got – well – kind of bored. After a bit of research, we decided to head for the hills and spend part of our vacation in Monteverde. Located in the Puntarenas region of Costa Rica, Monteverde is the home to one of Costa Rica’s top tourism destinations: the famed cloud forest, and is a major eco-tourism destination famous with naturalists and post-graduate students.

The unequivocal highlight of our trip was visiting Life Monteverde, a twelve-acre coffee and vegetable farm. Sustainable farming methods are the name of the game here, and Guillermo, our host and owner of the land, goes so far as to use pig manure to not only fertilize his land, but to also funnel methane gas to cook with and heat his home.

Touring the property was a definite highlight for me, especially since I spent a significant part of my undergraduate years studying sustainability and organic farming methods. Guillermo is a third generation coffee producer and all around information superhighway on the elusive fruit we have culturally come to know through its ability to aid us in combating morning fatigue.

Truth be told coffee farming is time intensive, water hungry, and temperature sensitive. You have to reside somewhere near the equator to produce it. Guillermo grows Arabica beans on his property, primarily the Caturra variety. Arabica coffee beans are praised for their mellow flavor and lower caffeine content. From seed to fruit it takes an Arabica plant at least 4 to 5 years before it begins producing coffee cherries, and once fully grown and prosperous one plant produces about a pound of coffee a year.

You read that correctly. A fully grown Arabica plant produces ONE pound of coffee a year. Think about that for a minute, and compare it to how much coffee you might personally drink in a week. I know at our home we go through that same amount in about a weeks time.

The coffee tour was exceptional: we toured the coffee plants, harvested fruit, split the cherries from the beans, and set them out to dry. After that we toured the rest of his property and discussed crop rotation, goat cheese production, and the believed healing properties found in soursop leaves. We wrapped up with a discussion on the difference between free and fair trade while tasting the fruits of our labor and nibbling on slices of seared plantains. Life Monteverde has a fair trade agreement with Texas Coffee Roasters in Austin, which is the place you can find Guillermo’s coffee here at home under the Café Monteverde label.

To say I have developed a newfound appreciation for coffee would be an understatement. Café Monteverde coffee is exceptionally mild with moderate acidity and a clean lemony finish. This is the perfect breakfast coffee. This is one to drink black, as diluting it with sugar and milk would just mask the pure, clean flavor.

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