Farms,  Production sites

Starbucks coffee – Alajuela Costa Rica

Starbucks has a coffee farm in Costa Rica open to the public, so I visited the farm. In all honesty, I did not know about this Starbucks coffee farm before coming to Costa Rica. As soon as I found out I was determined to go of course. Turned out this coffee farm is really the only coffee farm Starbucks actually owns, therefore Starbucks uses this farm as the example how it wants all the farms to work. It also uses its power (and money) to treat the berry pickers as good as it can.

The farm is in a beautiful location, surrounded by other coffee plantations and nature. Starbucks of course has a café on site with an amazing view on a waterfall between the coffee bushes.

Starbucks view cafe
The view from the cafe


I was the only one who wanted to do the tour and I was really lucky because that day was the monthly team tasting. The team of people working there allowed me to join the team tasting because the tour guide didn’t want to miss it. In that tasting they taught me how to taste coffee and how to describe it. Knowing how to taste and describe coffee is really cool, but it is definitely a skill that requires more practice from my side.

After the tasting the tour really started, first with the general background of coffee and then we continued with the planting. She explained how the crops are planted, the first year the crops grow in small pots and the second year they are put in the ground.

Starbucks coffee growing plant baby nursery
The example nursery for new coffee plants

In this specific coffee farm Starbucks has researchers working on crop disease and drought resistance. The knowledge and improved coffee beans that the researchers gather are shared with whoever wants the information. This research is important to ensure availability of coffee for everyone in the future so I am very happy that they are working on it and that they are willing to share their knowledge and coffee plants. For me it was also interesting to see and hear about these investigations and to understand how they are working on this.

Starbucks research plant.jpg
Coffee bushes as part of research


Then we went on with the actual coffee beans. The process starts with picking berries by hand. Special machines are designed to separate the perfect ripe berries from the imperfect berries. Then the flesh is removed from the bean by washing. The beans are dried in the sun; people are continuously moving the beans around so they dry evenly.

Starbucks coffee bean
Coffee berry explained
Starbucks coffee berry picking
Me pretending to pick berries for the picture
Starbucks coffee drying work
Me trying to dry the coffee

The last step is roasting the beans to perfection. The tour ended with another tasting and I could really taste the difference with the coffee I had in the first tasting. I was shaking afterwards from the amount of coffee though.

All in all I loved this tour and I like Starbucks even more now, up until now Starbucks has been the place I go to whenever I miss home. Now, knowing more about their attempts to make the world a better place, I actually feel good about drinking Starbucks.

Did you know about the possibility of visiting this farm? Are you planning to go?

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