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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Java Enabled's Postcard from Costa Rica: Coffee with a View

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 10:15 AM

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When I tell people I just came back from Costa Rica, the first question they ask is, "Did you visit any coffee farms?" It's a fair question, considering that Costa Rica is the region's -- if not the world's -- vanguard for innovative coffee cultivation and farm organization. But I've already written about more advanced palates than my own traveling to farms in Costa Rica. Instead, I had other, simpler coffee experiences.

Here are a few "postcards" from my trip.

click to enlarge The author (background) and his friend Scott at La Casa del Café San Ramón. - ZACH DYER
  • Zach Dyer
  • The author (background) and his friend Scott at La Casa del Café San Ramón.
When you hear "roadside" coffee, quality probably isn't the adjective that percolates to the top of your list. Sure, random roadside-diner coffee has its own "so bad it's good" charm, but let's be honest: It's nothing without that slice of coconut cream pie. Costa Rica breaks this stereotype for the caffeinated traveler.

As the Pan American Highway snakes its way up and over the Tilarán mountain range, small cafés and restaurants offer innumerable combinations of rice and beans, baked goods and, of course, coffee. Just outside Alajuela, immediately west of San José, there is a tiny roadside café that we visit every time we're in Costa Rica, La Casa del Café San Ramón. My boyfriend's father claims they serve the best coffee in Costa Rica.

La Casa is perched on a steep hillside as the highway makes a sharp curve. The low, dark wooden ranch sits away from the road. A gravel driveway buffers the semis hauling cargo from the Caribbean to the Pacific port of Puntarenas. The dependably moderate climate makes doors optional; La Casa has decided against them. It looks like any tico café at first glance. The same dark wood makes up the floors, walls and ceiling, creating a homey monotony. The owner's family and possibly a friend sit at one of the tables and gossip. The café continues out on to a covered porch over looking a small valley and its dense canopy.

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