I am a huge coffee drinker, so when I found out that I was going to get the chance to learn about how coffee is made I was beyond thrilled. Costa Rica has a large market for coffee, and there are coffee plantations in many different parts of the country.
The place where the richest coffee is said to be is from an area called Los Santos. Los Santos is in highlands, which is much cooler than the lowlands. In Los Santos, around 90% of the population depends on income from coffee production, so coffee is really important for the community here. The cooler air allows the coffee to grow better than when the coffee plants are in constant heat. Since the lowlands are hotter, everything happens faster, and you could say the process is almost rushed. Another reason that the highlands are better is because Climate Change is affecting the blooming process of coffee plants where it is too hot.
We went on a coffee tour this week to learn about different methods of growing coffee and making coffee. It was really fascinating to learn about the differences between the organic coffee farms and the conventional coffee farms because our tour guides connected it to the environment. The way that food is grown can actually destroy our soil, which will be detrimental to future generations. This is just one of the many reasons for why we should consider more organic farming methods.
Something we saw was that organic coffee farms have more diversification than conventional farms. To preserve the soil and help the coffee grow better, farmers will have other plants in their farms to provide shade. They also make their own fertilizer which allows nutrients to go back into the soil. Some of the plants and diversity they have in their farms include banana trees and avocado trees, which really made the plantations look so captivating.
To make coffee it takes a lot of people, and many organic farms depend on volunteers.When the coffee is ready to be picked, which look like red cherries (sometimes they are yellow), people go to each plant and pick each one by hand all day long under the sun. When they pick the berries, they put them into a basket called a “Canasta,” which is a basket that can be tied around a person’s waist. Not only did we get a chance to see the coffee plant plantations, but we were able to see the process of what happens after the coffee beans are picked from the plants. I learned that there are different types of coffee, like natural and honey. The cherries have to be peeled, and each day they are moved so that they can dry under the sun and become ready for the next step. Once they are dried they are put into a machine to make sure that they are the correct size, that they are clean, and that they weigh a certain amount. At the end, each bean is individually checked by the people that work there.
Later in the weekend I had the chance to go to another coffee farm, Hacienda Alsacia Starbucks Coffee Farm. This is the only coffee farm that Starbucks has, and I have to say it really was so cool to see. At the coffee farm there was detailed murals, breathtaking views, and a lot of coffee. This beautiful farm provides coffee to all of the Starbucks in Costa Rica, and preserves forests within the coffee farm, which I thought was really neat.
As you can see, producing coffee is not an easy process, and after meeting the famers and seeing what they do every day I really think I appreciate coffee more. Now, each time I take a sip of coffee in the morning, I think about how much effort and work was put into making that delicious coffee.
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