I’ve been in CR now for 7 weeks. Of those weeks I’ve spent 2 totally locked up and the other 5 in lockdown. Even though CR is doing very well containing the virus and keeping everybody safe and healthy, they do predict the next few months everybody will have to remain home. Therefor they are promoting STAYcations! So staying at home, or close to home, and making trips to local sites. Now that the restrictions have been partially lifted it was time for us to make such a trip and visit some local attractions.
We choose to make a coffee tour. Some of the parks are reopened, but are not offering guided tours. So it was up to the guests to wander around and make their own tours.
Coffee is among the top export products from CR and originates from 8 different regions. Due to the micro climates in CR the weather is very different per region which will affects the of the coffee.
For our first region, actually our second since we live in Valle central, we took the drive to Tarrazú, some 60 kilometers south. Considering the average speed here is not like as it is in Europe, that is almost 2 hours driving.
Apparently Tarrazú is the most famous region for coffee, so that seemed like a good place to start. During our drive we researched the region and figured out the best season is between December and April, so we were not at a ideal moment, but went through with the plan anyway!
The region is roughly 2 kilometer up in height, which makes it “a cold place” according to some Ticos. For Dutch people this was just average temperature. For coffee this is one of the factors affecting the taste. The Tarrazú coffee has an above average acidity taste with a hint of dark chocolate.
On our drive we stopped at a few local ventures bought a couple variations of the local coffee and did a thorough examination of both plant and taste. I’m ruling it a 6. The acidity taste makes it taste more like an espresso made too fast.
Back to the road! Our way home will take us through the Tres Ríos region. Home of the oldest coffee mill in the country. The coffee from this region is mainly influenced by the nearby volcano Irazu. The special soil balances the flavor and the coffee has been nicknamed “the Bordeaux” of Costa Rica. Unfortunately the oldest mill was closed off for visitors, but we were able to buy some beans.
The next day we took the car north and explored the plantations closer to home. The Central Valley has well defined rainy and dry seasons which makes for a balanced cup of coffee. We sticked to the western parts named Poas and Barva. Located here are 2 large coffee companies and gave us a nice view of our city.
The first stop was the local giant Britt. After a quick temperature scan the security guard allowed entry and a quick glance at the parking-lot made it clear we had to park to ourselves. None of the stations were manned so it became a self-educating tour. Due to the warmer weather in this region the coffee growing has progressed further than in the earlier visited regions. Again a quick inspection and a taste at the espresso bar. The barista did a good job and he gets a 8.5 (would have been a 9 if it was a little stronger).
Next stop; Hacienda Alsacia, owned by Starbucks. But unfortunately also closed. Luckily the security guard on duty was nice enough to allow us in for a few pictures of the plantation.
On the drive home we passed a small kitchen run by Salvadorians, who served us some of their local dishes.
We crossed off a few of the coffee regions, but we will do another tour to visit some more. Brunca and Guanacaste will require a weekend trip. Turrialba and Orozi will be visited soon!
Some of the restrictions have been lifted, but tourist will still be banned till at least June 15. Because the amount of daily new cases is still less the amount of recoveries they will announce a plan to reopen the national parks and beaches, a step towards the “new normal”.