Cuba & Costa Rica Blog
About this blog
Written by Cuba and Costa Rica expert Christopher P. Baker, this blog will update readers on life in these two diverse and exciting countries.
- Last blog post on Costa Rica and Cuba
- First-ever group motorcycle tours of Cuba successful
- Cuba’s Mariel port readying for Panama Canal expansion
- Musings on wildlife encounters on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula
- Cuba’s Steam Trains puffing their last gasp
- My top five thrilling activities in Costa Rica
- Cuba’s fun February festivals include Harleys, Books, Cigars
- Five top volcano viewing experiences in Costa Rica
- New road along Costa Rica / Nicaraguan border mired
- Cuba’s Hotel Campoamor at Cojímar to be restored?
- Cuban revolutionary Celia Sánchez honored in new book
- Christmas challenge for Costa Rica’s sexually abused girls
- Costa Rica opens Chinatown in downtown San José
- David Soul films Hemingway’s car restoration in Cuba
- National Geographic Expeditions receives license for Cuba tours
Costa Rican boutique hotel introduces own gourmet coffee
Previously, the delicious, organically grown Finca Rosa Blanca Dark Roast coffee—described as a full-bodied coffee with notes of chocolate—was previously available only to the hotel’s own guests. Now it can be ordered through Café Milagro, a Costa Rican café chain which also sells online.
The stunning and quintessentially romantic hotel is at the heart of the 30-acre coffee estate, which enjoys an enviable setting, with magnificent vistas and a salubrious climate at Santa Barbara de Heredia, on the lower slopes of Barva volcano, on the outskirts of San José in Costa Rica’s Central Valley.
The coffee estate is certified by both Rainforest Alliance and ICAFE, the Costa Rican National Organization for Coffee, meaning that Finca Rosa Blanca meets the organizations’ rigorous social and environmental standards. That means: no pesticides, herbicides, or other agrochemicals. Instead, the estate employs vermiculture, using compost from its own worm beds and from the composting of the hotel’s organic refuse. Only natural remedies are used to counter the fungus and pests that often plague coffee bushes.
For example, one strategy to deter coffee-keen pests is to plant banana trees, whose sap is even tastier to the same bugs. As the estate’s manager Leo Vergnani describes it: "If you know certain pests find coffee berries tasty, you just open a more enticing diner across the street with better food."
No wonder Finca Rosa Blanca coffee tastes so good!
Plus, owners Glenn and Teri Jampol have planted more than 5,000 endemic trees to shade the coffee bushes and to protect the estate’s natural watershed while guaranteeing a biological corridor for wildlife. Actually, many of the trees were planted by local school children.
Want to learn about organic coffee production?
Easy! Finca Rosa Blanca offers a fascinating tour of the estate led by Leo, an amazingly erudite and animated guide and chemistry graduate-turned-coffee expert who also speaks fluent and compelling English.
After touring the fields (the estate provides complimentary walking stick and rain boots), you’ll learn that Finca Rosa Blanca even employs natural methods for drying and processing the hand-picked beans. Whereas mass-market coffee producers tumble dry the beans (after separating them from the bitter and fleshy outer cherry), Finca Rosa Blanca workers use their hands to spread the seeds outside, where they dry naturally in the sun.
You even get to roast and pack your own coffee, plus learn the art of catación--coffee tasting. You’ll dig your nose into the coffee grounds to savor the aroma like an expert to determine quality and taste. Tar? Leather? Dirt? Leo asks what you’re smelling, much like an oenophile finding blackcurrant or walnut in wine. You’ll then inhale your coffee, swiftly, noisily, like a violent reverse spit, to aerate the suck-sip burst and release the flavors.
Check out my blog post of February 12, 2009: Coffee Tours in Costa Rica Spill the Beans
Meanwhile, Latinexplore, a tour company based in ??, recently announced 42-percent price discounts on its five-day, four-night “Coffee and Culinary for Two” trip, which includes visits to several coffee farms, mills, roasting rooms, etc.
For further information about travel in Costa Rica, buy Moon Costa Rica
If you're traveling only to San José and the Caribbean, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast pocket guide.
If you're traveling only to the beaches of Nicoya, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula pocket guide.
If you're traveling only to Arenal and/or Monteverde, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Arenal & Monteverde pocket guide.
Disclosure: I occasionally accept free or discounted travel when it coincides with my editorial goals. However, my opinion is never for sale. The opinions you see in Cuba & Costa Rica Journal are my unbiased reflection of the good, the bad, and the ugly.