Day 5 - Started early as we had a day trip booked but before that began we had to head back to the main street to get some extra money out for our tour and also drop our bags at our new accommodation. Then we got on the bus and started our day tour. First thing on the agenda was the Doka coffee estate. Doka is located about an hour away from San Jose up in the hills below a volcano. High altitudes and volcano soil equals great coffee growing and also what they call miniature fruits like strawberries. As far as the eye could see it was coffee plantations and strawberry fields.
Arrived at the Doka coffee estate and had lunch - rice, beans and salad - apparently it's what you eat in Costa Rica so was told to get use to it. Then we started our coffee tour. The coffee made at Doka is Arabica coffee. It mainly gets distributed to star bucks and other chains such as Dunkin Donuts etc.
The process in producing coffee is long and there is a lot of manual labor involved. 70% of the workers are Nicaruguan workers and they earn
$2 a basket (the basket is the size of a small laundry basket - so pretty big) however they are provided with housing and medical.
The coffee plants require
4hrs of shade a day so they put rows of water plants like banana trees in between each row to provide water and shade to the coffee plants. Quick facts - banana trees are 50% water. The coffee season is October to February in Costa Rica. It's ready to be picked when it's red. Generally pick from the plant 3 times across the 5 months. From planting it takes 3 years before its producing coffee ready to be picked.
Ok so in dot point this is the process of making coffee -
First stage - washing - divided into quality based on weight.
Second stage - skin peeling and again divided in quality based on colour.
Third stage - fermentation - coffee sits for 40 hours.
Fourth stage - drying - manually roll it over and over in the sun till it's completely dry.
Fifth stage - bagging - again divided into quality - the yellower it is the better the quality. If it's brown it's designated for the supermarket - s*** coffee basically.
Sixth stage - roasting - coffee roasts at 200 degrees - dark roast 20 mins - middle roast 70 mins - light roast 15mins.
The decaf production gets sent to Canada or Germany because it to expensive to do here, however it does come back and is bagged and exported from Doka. The caffein is sold to companies such as red bull and Coke.
Hopped back on the bus and headed through the hills to a town called Grecia where the main attraction is a big church made entirely of metal. Hopped off the bus the check it out briefly.
Back on the bus and moved onto a town called Sarchi. Sarchi is where the first Ox cart was built and the last in that it's the only operating factory in Costa Rica still making Ox carts. The Ox cart was the only form of transportation for many years in Costa Rica and are still being used by the locals to transport there produce. They are very colorful and look beautiful.
After rummaging through the amazing gift shop that was at the factory and buying a few local hand made items we were back on the bus and heading back to San Jose to meet the peeps in our tour group who we will be getting to know very well for the next 18 days, and the best way to do that is to head out for some food and drinks. Great first night to start our adventure together!!