Coffee Trees and Cherries

Enough with transportation, let’s get on to coffee.

As someone who grew up in North America, I had preconceived idea of what a coffee tree and coffee cherry would look like. I know cherry trees, so I envisioned a tall tree with a fruit rich in pulp.

Coffee trees are about 6 feet tall. If you do not prune coffee trees they will grow to 15 feet or more. The farmers prune the tops to keep all of the fruit at easy picking height.

Roberto with red cherry coffee tree - (needs pruning)
Arabica Caturra (only shows ripeness by turning red)

Continue reading “Coffee Trees and Cherries”

First Impressions – Driving in Costa Rica

(This article includes video)

As my wife and I began the trip to Costa Rica, we decided to keep a journal to document our impressions. Like any situation, I had a mental image of what we were getting into. Boy, was I off!

When we landed at the San Jose airport in Costa Rica, we were impressed with how modern and clean the facility is. There were no lines to clear customs, people were polite and the only difference I noted was that our luggage was X-rayed after we collected it. This was to look for drugs or other contraband. We walked out of the exit door and quickly found Matias. The first surprise was that all money transactions at the airport, including parking, took place in US dollars. Costa Ricans use the col√≥n as currency, with roughly 500 colons to a US dollar. The actually conversion was higher, but as we didn’t expect to spend much money, this was close enough. As a footnote, when left, we discovered all monies used in the airport were in US dollars, including for the exit fee and food.

Matias had mentioned that we would be in the mountains at an elevation of 6,000 feet. I grew up in the mountains of western Pennsylvania and had visited Colorado. While 6,000 feet was higher than I was used to, it didn’t intimidate me. What I didn’t expect was how steep the hills are. There are small rivers or streams in the valleys, and roads are cut into the mountain slopes. This means one side of the road is a wall, and the other a cliff. At first we were concerned with riding so close to the edge, but by the end of the week, I was standing on the edge of cliffs taking pictures. Continue reading “First Impressions – Driving in Costa Rica”

The Trip to Down to Earth Dota Estate, Costa Rica

I understand how to take green coffee beans to the cup; roasting, grinding and brewing. What I wasn’t familiar with was how coffee went from soil to green beans. While talking about this on the Coffee Forum Matias Zeledon (costaricacoffee on the forum) introduced me to his plantation in Costa Rica. Down to Earth Dota Estate is located in Providencia, San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica. Matias runs a program for people to come and learn about growing coffee.

My wife and I decided to go and left on Sunday Jan 23, 2011 for five days on the plantation. For our trip, we got up at 2 am, off to the Toronto airport at 2:45 for a 6:30 flight. We changed planes in Charlotte, North Carolina, then flew to San Jose, Costa Rica. Matias had sent details on where he would meet us and thanks to Michael Alan’s video on the airport, we had no problem meeting.

The trip to the farm involved driving across San Jose and south to a ranger station, then onto a 14 km dirt road. Now, I live 4 km back a dirt road, so I thought how bad could it be? To haul coffee, Matias drives a 1987 Ford F Super Duty pickup. I thought the drive to the farm was going to be just over an hour, not three, so when Matias offered to send a minivan to bring us to the ranger station, I said – no, just bring the truck. We were in for a rough Continue reading “The Trip to Down to Earth Dota Estate, Costa Rica”