Cafe Britt coffee tour
Trip Start Apr 17, 2013
17Trip End May 05, 2013
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What I did
From Alajuela, we had two main choices for a coffee tour: Doka estate and Cafe Britt. The former is an actual coffee plantation, whereas the latter is the largest coffee producer that buys coffee beans from like 2000 plantations. We decided to go with Cafe Britt for the fact we could easily take public transportation there. Plus, there coffee and chocolates are ubiquitous in Costa Rican shops.
We walked through the central market to check it out. It was a lot cleaner than other central markets I've been to and had a ton of fresh fruits, meat, and veggies. We even sampled a yellow cherry-looking fruit called nance. It tasted sour and bitter, so we had to pass.
There's a TUASA bus departing from Alajuela to Heredia very frequently (30 mins, $1). Heredia looked pretty much like Alajuela with a busy roads in a grid layout and lots of small shops. Mom said these towns made her feel like she time traveled to the country side of Korea in the 70s. We walked a little to take the Barva bus, which was kind of tricky because people didn't really know where it was.
Barva is very close to Heredia, as in like 2km... it's a nice, quiet upscale neighborhood. Cafe Britt fittingly looked very polished.
We arrived just in time for the 11 o'clock tour. We checked in at the welcome booth (advance reservations required) and received green stickers to wear. There was a beautiful garden and 3 coffee thermoses for sampling. The big gift shop was also visible (to be saved for later!).
There were about 15 people, half Costa Ricans and the other half a mix of Brazilians, Americans, and other nationalities. We had unlimited amounts of coffee and chocolates to sample. The tour led us through a small coffee farm (more like a garden), factory where they roast and package the products, and a small auditorium for a coffee-tasting demonstration, presentations, and skits
The tour only lasted 1 hour and 15 minutes... and was a little ADD because the 2 guides were mixing English and Spanish. I can see why people on Tripadvisor said $22 seemed like too pricey of a tag. The tour left us in the big gift shop, which contained every Cafe Britt souvenir you could want plus a ton of general souvenirs. We spent a while there tasting different chocolate-covered goodies and picking out gifts.
We had opted for the coffee tour + lunch option, so we were shown to the large dining area attached to the gift shop. The lunch was buffet style. I think it was definitely worth it! We got to take our time and enjoy the atmosphere. Plus, the food was amazing!!
The whole place was overall very well-maintained and beautiful. It was about 2:30pm when we were heading out. A Cafe Britt employee called a cab for us, and it dropped us off at the Heredia-Alajuela bus stop.
It took a while for that bus to come though..
We spent the rest of the day resting and indulging in gourmet ice creams by the central park. Oh my gosh, all the fruits and condensed milk on top of ice cream... so delicious!!
On our stroll we noticed really long queues at every ATM and bank. I'm talking like 30-40 people. What's going on?? Has there been some kind of economic downturn and people are rushing to take their money out before the bank goes down? Turns out, this happens every weekend because everyone withdraws money to go shopping and eat out on the weekends...