Gustaf recently turned me on to coffee, forcing me to pick up the habit, since he has to go to Starbucks three times a day to get a double espresso. I finally got tired of resisting his charms, so I tried some. For the sake of scientific experimentation, I decided to see if I could actually convert something I HATE into something I love. It didn’t quite work, as I am not to the “love” stage yet, but I do like it.
So I decided to go try some of the famous Costa Rican coffee here. I have local Costa Rican friends down here that say they can’t even drink coffee at Starbucks any more. Perhaps they are just being sensationalist, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt.
I went to the Doke Estate Coffee Plantation in the hills of southern Costa Rica to see how they do things. Here is a picture of part of the plantation. In the picture below, you can see the tall banana trees throughout the coffee crops to help break up the wind and protect against erosion.*
Below is a shot from the nursery area. The first two rows are coffee crops in their seedling stage, and in the distance, the plants have aged about six months. It takes five years until these crops begin to product coffee beans, but then they produce beans for the next 25 to 50 years.*
Here are some of the coffee beans. They are held inside small-grape like shells. The red ones are ripe, and they can be eaten straight off the vine. They actually have a sweet taste and act like a laxative; the locals often use them to calm upset stomachs as well. During the treatment and processing of the bean, all the sweetness is removed from the coffee bean.*
Below is a picture of my man Clifford (see Black People Like Me) wearing one of the coffee-bean picking baskets. Each full basket is worth USD $1. Clifford then ran his 62-year old body out into the lines and started picking beans, much to the embarassment of his son, who then quickly began hitting on our tour guide. The tour guide wasn’t bad, once you got past the fact that it was a 250 lb Costa Rican man.*
And last, here is a picture of the beans before and after they have been roasted. Before is on the left and after is on the right. The top right one is an espresso bean, which is roasted at 250 degrees for 20 minutes. Below it is the slightly lighter French Roast, which is roasted for 17 minutes. Below that is the regular blend, roasted at 15 minutes. The bottom one is a unique one called the “Peaberry,” which takes extra time to create because it comes from a special single seed.*
*(In a scandalous controversy, it was discovered that the pictures were not Fair Trade and were thus removed.)