I had truly enjoyed our outing to the Poas Volcano, and for this afternoon another typical Costa Rican experience was in store: the Café Britt coffee tour, a visit to Costa Rica’s most famous coffee roasting company. Historically, coffee has played a critical role in Costa Rica’s history, and even though tourism is the most important economic sector today, coffee continues to be among the country’s main exports, in addition to bananas and pineapples.
Coming down from the Poas Volcano, I again enjoyed the phenomenal vistas as San Jose was spreading out underneath us. By about noon our Caravan tour bus stopped about half way down the mountain, at a restaurant called “Mirador del Valle”. There was a long table set up for our tour group, and before sitting down for lunch, I stepped outside on the terrace which offered the most breathtaking views of Costa Rica’s Central Valley.
So this was going to be our first authentic Costa Rican lunch: we were served “casado” (which means “married”), a combination of meat (either beef, chicken, shrimp, as per our choice) and “gallo pinto”, the typical Costa Rican dish made with rice and beans. With my preference for vegetarian food, I had a veggie burrito, accompanied by rice and beans, squash, plantains (my favourite!) and salad, all accompanied by a delicious fresh strawberry juice. For dessert we had rice pudding. So far, I noticed that Costa Rican cuisine is very healthy, full of fresh fruit and vegetables.
After lunch I spent some time on the terrace and walked over to a small garden with banana trees and coffee plants. Coffee was indeed the topic of this afternoon as we approached the town of Heredia where we stopped to visit the Café Britt coffee roasting company. The Café Britt Coffee Tour is on the must-see list for many visitors of Costa Rica. This coffee tour has been providing an entertaining introduction to the world of coffee since 1991 and more than a million people have been introduced to the world of coffee in this popular coffee tour.
We exited our Caravan tour bus and congregated in the lush tropical gardens of Café Britt, and started listening to two employees who provided a very humorous introduction to coffee growing. Then we strolled around the property and saw coffee plants as well as a cocoa plant with ripe fruits. It was not until later that I realized that our two presenters, Maria and Luis, were actually experienced actors who tell the story of coffee several times a day.
The grounds of the Britt Coffee roasting company are simply a magnificent tropical garden full of colourful flowers and interesting plants. The coffee bush nursery shows the early growing stages of the coffee plant and there are various educational displays throughout. In addition, there is an exhibition of giant puppets of Costa Rican folklore that can be enjoyed in the gardens.
Then we congregated inside a modern presentation room and watched our two actors act out the story of coffee on stage, accompanied intermittently by a multimedia presentation. They touched on the colourful history of coffee and explained the labour-intensive process of how the red coffee cherry is turned into one of the world’s most popular (and addictive) beverages. Last but not least we got to visit the factory store which sells all sorts of coffees, chocolate and cookies and also offers an international coffee delivery service.
Then it was back onto our bus and by 4 pm we were back at the Real Intercontinental Hotel in San José where we got to enjoy the attractive gardens and swimming pool area of the hotel. Dinner was early at 5:30 where we had another opportunity to get to know some of our fellow travelers. I spent the evening downloading and working on the many hundreds of photos that I had taken on this exciting day. I had only spent one day in Costa Rica so far, but thanks to our experts at Caravan, I was starting to get a really good idea of the economy, the history and the traditions of this country.
Tomorrow our time in San Jose would come to an end and our Costa Rica travel adventure was going to continue with a drive to the Caribbean Coast to visit the village of Tortuguero, a sanctuary for different species of sea turtles and other marine animals.
Image Gallery of the Café Britt Coffee Tour:
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