Costa Rica – Doka Estate Coffee Tour
A major export for Costa Rica is coffee beans. We knew we had to learn more about the growing process from the source. On our way to La Fortuna, we stopped at Doka Estate for a coffee tour. It was delicious and delightful.
Arriving to Doka Estate for a coffee tour
After a confusing back and forth conversation with our GPS and a 30 minute drive, we eventually made it to Doka Estate. We arrived too late for the current tour, so we decided to eat lunch and catch the 2:00 pm tour. The lunch was a buffet was good and easy to make vegetarian, but not blow-your-hair-back delicious. We were too jetlag to care and kept refilling tiny cups of coffee, while playing with a little orange kitten on the property.
[SIDE NOTE: BUTTERFLY ARBORETUM] We explored their butterfly arboretum, which satisfied any to visit any butterfly sanctuaries for the rest of the trip. With so many flying around, I was worried I would step on one. Rebecca referred to them as bugs with pretty wings. It could have been the jet-lag, but we were unimpressed.
At a Glance:
- Rating: 4 Stars, would do it again in a heartbeat
- Duration: 2 hours
- Cost: $35 for tour + lunch – total $70 for two people
- Location: Mountains behind (?) San Jose
- Restrooms: Available!
- Cat on property
- Buffet lunch
- Coffee tour and lunch comes with mini cups of coffee (TBD limit), no cream/sugar/milk required for this liquid goodness
- So informative!
The Coffee Tour
The coffee tour itself was absolutely fascinating! Here is what we can remember that we learned:
- Workers from Nicaragua are transported in for the picking season to work.
- They are paid about $2/basket to make around $8, if they are very fast.
- Berries are picked when they are red.
- Berries in one bunch ripen at different times, so workers must go back to the same plants again and again.
- Doka estate uses different trees mixed into the bean plants to create an ecosystem that fertilizes the ground and prevents pests.
- Berries are soaked and pulped to remove the bean.
- They are sorted by size, with the largest being the best quality.
- The imperfect and flawed beans are sold to be used in lower quality and flavored coffee.
- The beans are dried for multiple days in the sun.
- If it rains, the beans must be covered immediately, which seems like a ton of work.
- Beans are then stored until they are sold or roasted.
- Peabody beans are perfect round, instead of two half circle shapes.
- The longer beans are roasted, the less caffeine the coffee will have.
Our guide spoke clearly and slowly, allowing us to ask any question under the sun. Overall, I was very impressed by Doka Estate’s commitment to the historical traditions/equipment and environmental results as I believe they attempted to reuse ever single waste product from the creation of coffee beans. Not “organic” in the American sense, but natural. Doka does sell some of their beans to other coffee roasters, so who knows – I could be drinking Doka beans today.
During the coffee tour, we smelled different roasts and quality of beans. We finished in the gift shop (where else?) to taste coffee, coffee liquor, and chocolate covered coffee beans. I can attest that all of these were phenomenal. We both bought two to three bags of coffee each and chocolate covered beans to share. In hindsight, I wish I would have bought more as it is more fun to share a gift and tell the story behind it. In the grocery stores and markets we visited, we picked up other coffee, but were unable to find the Doka brand.
Have you ever been on a coffee tour? If so, how was the experience?