Our latest journey to visit the world's best coffee farms brought us to beautiful Costa Rica, where we were greeted with lush green hills, colorful homes and such friendly people. Pura Vida! is their way of life, meaning simple life or pure life. I must say that Costa Rican lifestyles are something to be admired! Locals live very simply and appear to be some of the happiest people, regardless of their wealth or stature.
Adventure awaits around every corner and we're never surprised at the abundance of color, wildlife, nature and natural beauty throughout this beautiful country. From rolling hills filled with coffee plants and winding roads, to small roadside "sodas" (restaurants), amazing sunsets over the Pacific, waterfalls, volcanoes, and fruit stands at every speed bump, the culture is endearing and the outdoor adventures are endless!
We visited small yet very impressive coffee farms in Costa Rica's Central Valley. Costa Rica only makes up 1% of the world's coffee, but their Arabican beans are known to be very rich and flavorful. Costa Rican coffee farmers focus on the quality of their coffee, rather than quantity. In fact, by law, only Arabican beans can be grown here. They harvest only once/year, from November - January, and the coffee is grown in both shade and sun at 2,500 - 6,000 feet in elevation. Although the coffee cherries weren't ripe yet, they still made for some amazing photos!
Finding workers to pick the coffee cherries is always a challenge for coffee farmers. In Costa Rica, the workers are paid by volume and make roughly $30 for a very long and hard day's work. They often have to bring workers in from Nicaragua to help during the picking season. Agriculture has dropped from Costa Rica's #1 source of employment to #3, as more people are finding jobs in higher paying and growing industries, like tourism (#1) and technology (#2).
All of the beautiful trees and plants surrounding the coffee plants are grown to help protect erosion. The large trees provide nitrogen to the soil and the beautiful plantain trees are a great source of water for the coffee plants, as they are composed 80% of water. Coffee farmers spend a tremendous amount of time preserving their craft, while ensuring for a long and healthy 15-year productive life for their coffee plants.
Other Behind-the-Scenes Fun
If you've never been to Costa Rica, add it to your bucket list! It's one big adventure! Our trip was filled with a bit of everything -- a stunning beachside wedding with family, driving 4-wheelers around town, beautiful ferry rides, deep sea fishing, yoga on the beach, crazy thunder/lightning storms, watching world-class surfers, touring coffee farms, hiking a volcano, enjoying hot springs and, of course, enjoying nature and wildlife! The beach sunsets were stunning! We caught tuna, saw sloths and monkeys, ran from iguanas, and even helped my sister who got stung by a scorpion! (No, they're not poisonous there, thankfully!!). 😳
The roads are winding and narrow, so your full attention is required every minute! And around every corner awaits, well, who knows! There are no sidewalks so families also share the narrow roads with their kids, dogs, cats, bikers, cows ... you name it! (And tourists like us who pull over to get random photos!). We've shared some of our photos here for you to enjoy!
And for you foodies, the restaurants in Santa Teresa were amazing! These small, roadside sodas had some of the best food we've had anywhere. Not just empanadas either, everything from Sushi and Seafood to Italian and Chinese food! So pull up in your 4-wheeler, order your favorite beverage and enjoy!
Most important things to pack? We'd recommend good walking shoes, a surfboard (if appropriate), sunscreen and bug spray (not necessarily in that order). Pura Vida!! 🤙 🤙
Ann & Kevin