We visited several different coffee farms during our trip to Costa Rica. Different coffee plantations use several techniques to ensure high quality of the bean and maximum yield. For example, some companies will allow two trees to grow side by side to save space. I learned that coffee plants are first planted in a pot to allow the nutrients to develop. This is not the case for every coffee plant, but for many of the companies we visited it was. This adds an extra step in the production of a coffee bean that I was not aware.
After a bean is picked, it still has much more development before it is ready for packaging. The next step in the process is separating the low quality beans from the higher quality beans. This is done through passing the bean through several different machines. These machines are powered by either gravity and water or suction. The milling process is not as complicated as I had imagined. The coffee mills use simple machinery to achieve accurate sorting.
After sorting and drying, the green beans are now ready for roasting. Some companies, like Doka, will export a majority of their beans after the milling process. Leaving the responsibility of roasting to their consumers. Other companies roast their own beans. This process entails putting the beans into a roaster. The time it remains in the roaster, decides the roast of the bean. The beans are then transferred to a cooling chamber. After the beans are cooled, they are packaged into their respective bags. After packaging, the beans can find themselves either in Costa Rica or overseas. Beans in Costa Rica generally travel by truck. If the beans are shipped overseas, the mode of transportation is by ship. I didn’t realize that a difference of only two minutes is what separates a light and medium roast. Which I discovered through personal testing, provide unique tastes. Both of which I am still not a big fan.
Processed coffee can find itself in retail stores or in cafes. In retail stores the coffee has not yet been brewed. This allows a customer to purchase a bag, which can brew several cups of coffee. In cafes, the barista brews the coffee of a customer’s choice. The customer buys and consumes the coffee of their choice. I learned that there is no best coffee. The best coffee relies on the opinion of the customer. There are different qualities of beans, which results in one bean tasting better than another does. It is important to remember that taste is relative, and a customer should not be judged because of the coffee he or she chooses.
–Big thanks to everyone who made this trip an amazing experience. Thanks Professor Teeter for teaching me about the Tico culture. Along with some Spanish I was actually able to use in conversation. Thank you Laura for looking out for me in more ways I can list, and more than I deserve. Along with getting some clips of me playing soccer with ULatina. Overall, I would give this trip two thumbs up.