Monday, April 5, 2010


Here they plant coffee on the sides of the hills, where it's difficult to plant anything else. Sometimes they mix in a few banana and other trees for shade (and food). Right-click and open this picture in a new window to zoom in.

Workers pick the coffee from November to January (our summer). Local people used to pick it, but now people come from Nicaragua and other parts of Costa Rica. It's very difficult work but if you're in town at the right time there's plenty of it so there's money to be made. You get $2 to fill up a box like this one:

...and carry it to a shed like this one so it can be loaded into a truck to take it to the coffee mill:

Increasingly, Costa Ricans mill their coffee before exporting. Unprocessed coffee doesn't sell for much and it's hard to compete with countries like Vietnam or Nicaragua where labor and land are cheaper. Milling involves taking the pulp off of the bean and drying it.

Here, the burn the husks (along with wood) to dry the coffee:

Once the coffee is dry (but not roasted--that happens later, for freshness), the beans are sorted by density on a machine called an "Oliver:"

You can see the densest product (light green, on the right) differs substantially from the least dense product. There's a big range of quality.


  1. So does this mean you can steal coffee beans and make yourself the best cup of coffee ever? Also, are you planning on opening up a coffee/sugar/sausage place with your newfound knowledge when you get back to the States?

  2. I did send some coffee to my dad... but here´s the plan right now: I´m working with a local baker to try to make some of my favorite breads. Rosemary foccacia today, with any luck banana bread on Wednesday. I dream of one day building a wood-fired bread oven.