June 1st: Today, we went as a group to visit a coffee farm in Monteverde at 9:00 a.m. Our guide at the coffee farm was a guy named Alejandro and he is one of the main people in charge of the coffee farm. The coffee farm was at a lower elevation than where we are staying. Therefore, the temperature was a few degrees hotter and it was a little humid with a slight breeze. Alejandro started off our tour by telling us the history behind coffee.
Coffee was discovered in Ethiopia first by accident in 828 AD. It was known as a Muslim drink at first until it spread outside of the Muslim area. There are three different coffee plants: Robusta, Arabica, and Coffea Liverica. Brazil is the biggest exporter of coffee followed by Costa Rica. Arabica is the most popular type of coffee and it is grown in 56 different countries. It is a very picky crop, but it’s the best cup of coffee.
According to Alejandro, there are five important things for growing Arabica coffee. The elevation must be 3000 feet or higher, precipitation of at least 88 inches per year, good drainage systems and soil, and at least six hours of sunlight a day. It is important that the temperature is stable year round to have efficient coffee. Coffee is considered to be an appetite suppressor. The coffee plants were six to eight feet tall. They are planted in pairs because they will produce more beans. However, you can’t plant more than two together because the plants will then compete for the nutrients and other important things needed to grow. A little white flower grows on these coffee plants and they have a smell. They reminded me of a honeysuckle. Also, the trumpet flower (Bromzais) is connected to the coffee plants. These are used to help pollinate the garden. They were pinkish in color and they are for the bees. It’s a cycle of five years to produce coffee.
After we walked around the coffee farm and looked at the coffee plants, we ate lunch on top of the mountain. It was a beautiful view. We were given the chance to squeeze some sugarcane after lunch. The sugarcane was put into a grinder and it turned the sugarcane into a liquid that you could drink. I found this to be pretty interesting! Next, we left the coffee farm and went to Alejandro’s coffee shop in the town of Santa Elena. The coffee shop was called the Common Cup and we were given samples of the coffee and espresso shots to try. I think this was the group’s favorite part of the expedition. We saw the machine used for roasting coffee beans and were able to see how it works. The beans are green at first and they turn a blackish/brown after they are roasted and this is how you can find them in the store. I think our group had a great time touring the coffee farm and going to the coffee shop. It was extremely informative and we learned a lot about coffee farming!
~ Carah Reid
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