During our 7-day all-inclusive stay at the Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica, we embarked on two excursions to get a little more familiar with our temporary country of residence. 3.5 hours from the hotel, the first trip we did was to Monteverde located 4,662 ft (1,440 m) above sea level. Renown for it’s steady supply of clouds and mountainous landscape, Monteverde was our entrance to a whole new side of Costa Rica. Leaving beaches behind, we headed out for a day that included a visit to a coffee plantation and a trip to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
Now that I’ve recovered from the bouncy roads and air-con, I can honestly say that the best part of the excursion was the beautiful landscape we saw and the micro-climates we experienced en route to our destination. Over the course of the 3.5 hour journey to the Cloud Forest, we saw an entire transition from dry and mountainous to green lush rain-forest. Thankfully we were able to get out and stretch our legs about 2.5 hours in to take a tour around a working coffee plantation and grab a bite of lunch! The plantation itself was smaller than expected but really cozy a hidden in the very hilly and lush area of Monteverde. With clouds hovering near over top, a constant drizzle in the air and a descending fog that would make it’s presence known on our return journey back home, stopping here really gave us the impression of stepping into another world. While I can’t be sure, judging from the decor found inside the sampling room that displayed the final product (as seen below) I believe the plantation was part of the Coopeldos R.L, a cooperative company formed by small and médium coffee producers of the high area of Tilaran, Abangares and Monteverde.
Our tour consisted of a brief walk through the plantation, where we had the opportunity to see the various stages of a coffee bean – from vine to hot and ready to drink. The picture below is of coffee beans growing on the trees which were much higher than I initially thought! After the coffee beans are picked, off comes the skin and the fruit surrounding the inner bean. That’s what this handy machine is for!
The beans then need to be dried before the remainder of their shell can be removed!
The machine below is the roaster for this particular plantation. For plantations of a larger size, this machine can be much, much, much bigger. At this particular plantation however, a man watches these three machines all-day during work hours in order to create a delicious and distinguishable light, medium and dark roast. Would you believe that roasting the coffee takes only around 18 minutes, depending on the darkness of the roast? That’s one efficient little machine!
One fascinating tidbit of information that emerged from our tour was the difference between light and dark roast in terms of caffeine content. When the coffee beans are finished roasting, they emerged covered in a sort of oil. This oil is caffeine. What many of us were surprised to learn was that the lighter roasts actually contain more caffeine because they are roasted for less time, meaning they retain more of their oil. Darker roasts, on the flip side, lose more caffeine oil during their elongated roasting process. This is why, for Costa Ricans, light roasts are consumed in the morning or on Mondays, when they need the extra boost! Keep that in mind next time you’re ordering up your daily cup at your favourite coffee chain.
One last bit of information before you go! Costa Ricans enjoy coffee poured through a contraption that resembles a regular coffee machine but with one big difference; no paper! The paper filters we use to drain our coffee actually removed even more of the caffeine oil that comes off during the roasting process! Instead, as pictured below, Costa Rican pour hot water through a cloth-like material and use that to create what can only be described as the perfect cup of Costa Rican coffee.
Stay tuned for a visit to a Butterfly Conservatory and a Walk through the Cloud Forest in Monteverde!