Tezzy and I awakened early to head into town and catch the 9:55 am bus to Naranjo to go on the Espiritu Santo Coffee Tour. We were very excited because both of us are passionate about good-tasting coffee and have enjoyed some of the best coffees from around the world. I can truthfully tell you that my favorite is Costa Rican coffee—not because I’m now calling Costa Rica my home, but because it’s just that good. We decided to find out firsthand why that is so.
Espiritu Santo’s 670-acre high-quality Arabica coffee plantation sits in the picturesque rolling mountains of Naranjo and near Sarchi, about 30 minutes from Grecia. After we arrived at the bus terminal in Naranjo, we took a 15-minute taxi ride to the property. Believe me, the journey was gorgeous! We were met by Karen, our tour guide, an extremely nice lady who has immense knowledge of all things coffee. Along the trails, we learned about the growth of coffee plants, from seedlings to the time they are planted and picked in the plantations. We had a chance to visit an old traditional house, La Casita de Juancho, where we witnessed how coffee was brewed in the time before coffee makers were available and why some people still prefer to use a chorreador (a traditional Costa Rican coffee maker). I have to admit that there is a distinct difference in the pure taste of coffee brewed in this manner compared to what I’m used to.
We soon found ourselves in the wet processing mill, where we learned about how the coffee beans are measured, peeled, selected, and dried. Once the coffee beans are completely dry, it’s time for roasting, and Espiritu Santo’s aromatic roasting room is one of the biggest in Costa Rica. Karen told us that we’re in the midst of the harvesting season, which begins in December and continues through April, after the rainy season ends. Costa Rica is known for having some of the best coffee beans in Central America, and they are generally described as having a lighter body and full, rich sweetness, creating a smooth aromatic flavor with crisp acidity. They are of the highest quality and are guaranteed to give you a delicious cup of coffee.
Costa Rica was the first country in Central America to produce coffee for commercial purposes. The coffee plant first arrived in Costa Rica by way of Cuba in 1779, with commercial production beginning in 1808 and the first exports taking place in 1820. Espiritu Santo grows a variety of organic coffee beans that have unique and different flavors.
The Central Valley where we live has the most distinct rainy and dry seasons, which allows producers to explore other processing methods. Naturally processed coffees from here tend to have a milder acidity, heavier body, and bold aromatic flavors and sweetness.
The Espiritu Santo Coffee project was started in 2007, and it is part of a large farmers’ cooperative called Coopronaranjo R.L. The cooperative comprises more than 2500 farmers from throughout the region. Espiritu Coffee has earned the Rainforest Alliance’s seal of approval in addition to its many awards for quality. A large percentage of the cooperative’s gourmet coffee bean production is shipped to companies, such as Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, and Caribou Coffee Company in the United States and Europe, while the remainder is consumed here in Costa Rica.
If you’re a coffee fanatic like we are, then you must take the Espiritu Santo Coffee Tour in Naranjo. You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.