After the six mile hike through the Cloud Forest and visiting the hummingbirds, we arrived a bit messy and muddy at a local Italian restaurant which surprisingly served some of the best Italian food I have eaten anywhere. After this leisurely lunch we headed back to hotel to ready ourselves for the afternoon activities. Some chose zip lining while the rest of us headed to a local organic coffee farm or remained at the hotel. For me it was no choice really; I love coffee.
Our guide at the farm had to be one of the most entertaining guides I have experienced anywhere in the world. He was not only informative but also extremely witty; we chuckled all the way. After a brief introduction we headed to the coffee plants, tasted raw coffee fruit, and picked coffee.
Here I am picking coffee as instructed–only the ripe, red berries.
He also instructed us to taste them. They were surprisingly sweet.
Here is the basket where we all put the berries we picked. Then we headed to the processing area.
First he showed us the old way, how they used to get the fruit on the outside off with only the seeds, the beans left to dry.
For good coffee, they spread the beans out and sun dry them. The roof here shelters them but allows natural drying. These beans have just begun the drying process. When they are ready, they are a darker, more golden color.
The next part of the tour involved chocolate. Here he is hand grinding chocolate into relatively fine pieces. Yes, in a mortar. He added a little hot water and raw cane sugar, whisked it around, and gave us all a little cup. Luckily, it was not a big crowd so most of us received seconds. When I run out of the chocolate I have here at home, I will consider doing it this way myself. The difference in taste from this and that which we get ready mixed here in the US is remarkable.
They had sugar cane growing here but only ornamentally. Sugar cane requires heat. We were too high in the mountains; it was too cold to produce cane for sugar. Later, near the coast in Guanacaste, we saw mile after mile of commercially grown sugar cane. He had some and gave us all a taste. Yes, we sucked on pieces of sugar cane. I expected to dislike it, to find it excessively sweet. Actually, it seemed only mildly sweet and quite tasty.
It was a full day. We returned to the hotel rather late and experienced an even later dinner at the Tree House, a restaurant in Monteverde built around a large tree. The live band played a lot of reggae music. Many of the residents of the east coast of Costa Rica are the descendants of Jamaicans who came many, many years ago to help build the railroad.
The last time I visited Monteverde we had time to wander around the town, shop, and eat ice cream. I sorely missed not having the time to hang out there a bit and especially eat the ice cream. Both the cheese and ice cream in Monteverde are, well, yummy and different. I also missed going to the club next to the Tree House where you find people of all ages hanging out and dancing. Maybe next time.