Monday, March 5, 2012

Visit to the Doka Estate Coffee Plantation

Coffee plantations have a long history in Costa Rica.  Our visit to the Doka Estate Plantation was quite interesting.  It was located about a bit over one hour drive from San Jose.  The road was bumpy and dusty, but the weather was really nice.  Ticos (Costa Ricans) no longer want to work as hard labors on plantations.  The coffee fruits are picked by hand, and are now mostly done by labors from  Nicaragua.

The front door of the Plantation and the coffee plants are shown below.  The banana trees planted among the coffee plants are meant to be used to divert bugs away from the coffee plants.

Coffee plants start from seed bed. The plants can last for 20 years before the quality decline of coffee fruits.  The workers carry a basket on their waist, and hand pick the red mature fruits.  They get paid $2 per basket.  An experienced picker can do one basket per 20 minutes, which translate to $6 per hour.  Each basket weighs 25 pounds.  The 25 lbs raw fruits will yield 7 lbs golden beans (dried but before roasting).  The golden beans can be exported as is.  Costa rica exports 90% of its coffee beans.

The following pictures show the flower, the red fruit, the structure of the coffee, and the picking basket:

The raw fruits will go through washing, cleaning and separation, fermentation, drying, selection, and roasting.  For a 40 lb batch at 160 C, 15 minutes, 17 minutes, and 20 minutes are used respectively for the light, medium, and espresso roast.  Peaberry are fruits whose seed (bean) are not split to two halves.  Peaberry is always only roasted for 17 minutes.

I enjoyed the tour very much and bought some coffee for Tom and Janice.

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