November sees the start of coffee picking in the highlands and the beginning of tours to the coffee plantation – cafetal – for Costa Rica Holiday Homestay. This week we hosted four novices who quickly learned what it takes to pick a cajuela (basket) of coffee and enjoyed an experience campesino for a few hours.
Our tour starts with some general information about the history of coffee growing in Costa Rica, and in the Talamanca highlands in particular, as well as a description of the type of coffee grown, processing, and the worldwide market.
Next we set off to size our pickers for their canastas or baskets, and train them in how to pick as well as balance! Right now the coffee is a mix of ripe and unripe (red and green berries) so our pickers learn to leave the green fruit to mature and pick only the red.
The coffee plantation is set half way up the hillside with magnificent views of the river valley and surrounding farms. We take time to stop and eat bananas, oranges, guayabas and anona – fruit that we encourage on the farm to satisfy hungry birds and animals – and keep them away from the sweet coffee fruit!
After 2 hours we check out how much coffee we’ve picked – hmmm! About ½ basket – equivalent to about $1 in pay for the picker! Better speed up if this is your livelihood! Thankfully it’s not and we retreat to the farmhouse for a cup of the real thing and scrumptious banana muffins. Left with mud on our boots and some great photos we all agree that coffee picking is a fun tour.
Tours run now until March, $17 per person. Contact us soon to arrange your tour and experience coffee picking yourself!