When I started working for Starbucks in 1999 I didn’t even like coffee. But, now all these years later I love drinking it, and have always wanted to see how it grows up close.
Although I didn’t want it enough to sign up for an early morning tour. Let’s not be crazy. Instead we called around the many nearby farms until one agreed to do a last minute tour at a reasonable hour.
Fanny and Mario own Finca Milena where they grow coffee, bananas and run a hotel.
Fanny arranged a tuk tuk to take us to their farm.
It was a bit scary to be riding up a mountain in what was basically a golf cart.
Unfortunately the tuk tuk couldn’t make it up the last steep part of the road to the farm. And, well, neither could I. Mario, the farm owner met us and watched as Jeff pulled me up the road
Once I caught my breath and unclenched my hand from Jeff’s arm, I was able to take in the beauty of the mountains and see the town of Jardin below.
They gave us hats which I think is for the sun or just for photos since it was cloudy.
When they passed out knee high rain boots I got a bit nervous but thought this must also be for photos.
Mario explained that coffee trees take two years before producing coffee, then are good for five years, then need to be replaced with new trees.
Jeff asked a bunch of questions. We looked out at the valley saw some coffee trees in the distance and I thought great excellent tour. Now let’s sit down and drink coffee.
But no, we started out on a very steep, muddy hike. I have no photos of the hike since it took all three of them to get me up to the trees.
The coffee plants were interspersed with banana trees. Mario explained that growing bananas took less labor to harvest.
The bags around the fruit are to keep insects off. The blue color is just because that’s how they come.
Mario showed us a plant that still had a coffee flower and some green unripe cherries.
Since it was still three months to harvest time (October through December) there weren’t any red coffee cherries to pick.
Turns out there weren’t any here. But, up the mountain and across a bridge made up of a piece of wood there were some.
Jeff and Mario pulled me up each step and then Jeff walked backwards on the wooden plank brigde while holding my hands. And finally there were plants with ripe beans. We got to work.
I have no idea how they got me back down but I miraculous arrived back at the farm intact.
Mario showed us how they processed the beans from sorting, to washing, to fermenting.
And then we got to taste coffee. This was coffee the had come from their farm and roasted in town.
When the tuk tuk came to take us back to town Fanny helped me back down the steep road.
Hiking up to the trees was hard and scary but so worth it. I am so glad I got to see first hand what goes into making the coffee I drink each morning. Mario, Jeff, Fanny and our guide (I forgot his name) made it possible for me to experience it. Without them I wouldn’t have even made it up the road to the farm.