Curious & Thirsty: Espíritu Santo Coffee
by Marla Norman, Publisher
The next time you order a cup of coffee from Starbucks, there’s a good chance the blend you’re enjoying came from the Espíritu Santo Coffee Plantation. The group is one of the largest coffee growers in Costa Rica, producing over 20,000 pounds a month, and a favorite supplier for Starbucks.
In general, coffee growing is a dominant part of Costa Rica’s national income — the industry employs a whopping one-fourth of the country’s population. And interestingly, some 70% of the coffee production comes from small family properties of under 25 acres owned by 250,000 farmers. In turn, these small owners frequently employ over one million people.
As with all Costa Rican coffee producers, Espíritu Santo grows only fine Arabica beans. By government decree, the inferior Robusta is not allowed. Tours through the property begin with a look at small seedlings that will be planted on the 640 acres that make up the plantation.
Visitors are also shown how coffee beans are processed — from the picking and peeling, to the sorting. Once the best beans have been selected, they are sun dried for seven days then stored for one month.
The huge roasting room is the next stop on the tour. Here the coffee is mixed with other varieties to produce unique blends that will be classified as espresso, dark roast, medium, etc. Visitors can also opt to take a Coffee Tasting Class, to learn what coffee buyers look for when scouting for select blends.
Other major coffee plantations offering tours include these:
Cafe Brit – Brava, Heredia
Doka Coffee Estate – San Luis de Sabanilla, Alajuela
Don Juan Coffee – Monteverde
Monteverde Coffee – Monteverde