The Captain was released by his surgeon on Monday, so Tuesday morning we checked out of the hotel near the hospital, rented a car, and drive up to Doka Estate for a coffee tour.
We were greeted with a tiny iced coffee and promptly joined a tour group. Harvest starts in October so our timing was perfect for seeing the ripe cherries and witnessing the drying process.
First our guide showed us the baby Arabica plants. Only Arabica plants are allowed in Costa Rica because they are the best and Costa Rica wants to produce only the finest coffee.
The trees start producing at about three years of age and are replaced at twenty-five years as their production starts decreasing. This tree was loaded with beautiful red cherries.
The cherries are harvested several times during the harvest season; the first few times just the red ones, but eventually all of the cherries are stripped off. The red ones produce the best coffee.
Most of the coffee pickers come from nearby Nicaragua and are paid only $2.00 per cajuela (basket). The baskets look to hold about a bushel and weigh 28 pounds when full. Good pickers can fill a basket in 45 minutes , but that isn't much money for an eleven hour day in those muddy, sloping fields.
The cherries are brought to this processing plant where they cull out the bad ones, peel off the various coverings, sort them by size, and dry them in the sun. Winter is the dryer season here, but they still must pile up the beans quickly and cover them with plastic when it rains.
Doka Estates ships the dry beans out unroasted, but roasts some to sell in their gift shop. Below you see their products: breakfast blend, peaberry, French roast, expresso.
We also enjoyed lunch at Doka Estates and wandered their beautifully landscaped property. I was surprised to see so many hydrangeas; all blue. Boy, could I have a lovely garden here.