Costa Rica’s coffee is one of the best in the world and its production has always played a key role in our country’s history and economy. When the Ecogetaways Team received the kind invitation from Freer Marketing to enjoy the “behind the scenes experience” of the Doka Estate Plantation and Coffee Tour we were more than thrilled to learn about the interesting process starting from how coffee is carefully grown in plantations to how it ends in our daily morning mug as the liquid velvet we love.
I woke up very early and picked up Natalie to start our amazing adventure. The Doka Estate is located along the green hills of the Poás Volcano, in the sunny and perfect weather province of Alajuela. It is approximately at an hour drive from San José. When we arrived Mario Fernández, the General Manager of Doka Estate was waiting for us to give us a warm welcome with a delicious cup of premium coffee to start the private tour full of energy.
Mario explained us that the beautiful plantation belongs to the Costa Rican Vargas Ruiz family, pioneers of coffee production for more than 70 years showing a high historical and cultural value. In fact, Doka Estate was declared into the Architecture Heritage of Costa Rica and it is an example of living history maintaining the use of industrial methods and machinery dating from the early twentieth century as well as for using the “patios” to dry the coffee grains with the warmth of the sun for cultural demonstration and for production.
Ready to travel back in time? The tour started at the beautiful plantation of the estate. Here Mario explained that in Costa Rica we only grow the Coffea Arabica species, endemic from Ethiopia, thanks to a law stated 1989 by the government to ensure the planting of only the highest quality of coffee. Then we visited the coffee plant also known as the “Beneficio” to see the different stages of the coffee plants in a seedbed, the coffee processing, peeling, fermenting, drying and storage where we got the opportunity to see the famous Costa Rican “Grano de Oro” or coffee bean ready to be roasted or exported.
To witness the whole process was an enlightening experience but for us the highlight was to see the oldest wet mill in the country, a place where coffee cherries are separated by quality using water. The low quality coffee floats on the surface while the high quality coffee sinks to the bottom of the mill. Brilliant! This processing plant was declared to be Architectural Heritage for Humanity in 2003 by the UNESCO.
The tour ends with the visit to the roasting plant Café Tres Generaciones where we learned about the various roasts and we were delighted to enjoy the delicious scents of eight different varieties of coffees. At the gift shop we got to the best part of the tour…the TASTING! Here they have several types of coffee you can try such as the Peaberry, Espresso Italiano, French Roast, Breakfast Blend and House Blend…It was amazing how different the flavors are and they come from the same plant! My favorite was French Roast that is a darker caramel coffee and Natalie’s was the fruity or sweet Peaberry.Sustainability
An important fact that I loved is that this roasting plant and coffee is Rainforest Alliance Certified, which means that Doka Estate meets high standards of environmental, social and economic sustainability that in Ecogetaways we encourage and applaud, especially knowing that we can ensure that our clients will enjoy an awesome tour and will also contribute to the conservation efforts of the country and to the well being of the communities we love.A Perfect Family Experience
At noon we enjoyed a wonderful typical Costa Rican lunch buffet at Doka Estate’s restaurant that is surrounded by the stunning scenery of the coffee plantation. Here we ate a traditional “Casado” this dish consists in basically rice, beans, meat – it could be fish, chicken or meat in any of its presentations, “picadillo” and green salad accompanied with a famous soup called “Olla de Carne”.
Overall, this tour was a really fun and certainly an enlightening experience that I totally recommend for your next visit to Costa Rica with your friends or family! Get ready to enjoy a memorable day and remember; all you need is love and a hot cup of coffee! Stay tuned for my next Eco-adventure! Next stop…the traditional town of Sarchí.