Doka Estates Coffee Tour

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••• Coffee cherries at Doka Estate. Akila McConnell, licensed to About.com

One of Costa Rica's best tourist activities is a coffee plantation tour and the Doka Estate Coffee Tour is one of Costa Rica's best coffee tours.  Their coffee tour will guide you from seed to cup, teaching you everything you need to know about how coffee is grown and made.

History of Doka Estates

In 1929, the year of the Great Depression, Don Clarindo Vargas, a merchant from San Isidro of Sabanillo sold his store and bought a small dairy in Fraijanes, in Alajuela, Costa Rica.

 Twenty years later, he traded the dairy farm for a coffee plantation of four manzanas, or 2.8 hectares in El Rodeo, in San Isidro, Alajuela, though he know nothing about growing coffee.

Within thirty years, his coffee plantation had significantly grown and was renamed the Santa Eduviges Plantation, and by 1959, he had 200 permanent employees and 3000 temporary employees during harvest time.  They planted over 2000 manzanas of coffee (or 1600 hectares of land).  

Doka Estates, as it is known today, is Costa Rica's largest coffee producer, with over 250 year-round employees and 32 farms.  A whopping 65% of its production is sold to Starbucks  (though Starbucks is supposedly reducing its use of Doka Estate's premium blends) and another 30% is sold to other major international buyers, including Caribou Coffee.  Doka keeps the best 5% of its production for its own estate blend as the highest premium quality coffee grown in Costa Rica (and you can taste this coffee on their tour).

 

Doka Estates Coffee Tour

Though not as popular as the Cafe Britt tour, the Doka Estates tour follows a similar plan.  The tour begins in the seedbed, where expert guides explain the varieties and growing habits of coffee plants, including a brief visit to see the coffee plants and the coffee cherry itself.

 Doka Estate plants citrus and banana trees among the coffee plants, which lends a mild citrus and fruity flavor to its coffee.

Then, you will visit the processing plant, which was declared to be an Architectural Heritage for Humanity site in 2003, because it is the oldest wet processing coffee plant in Costa Rica.  At the processing plant, the coffee cherries are rinsed, washed, and the skin and pulp is separated from the coffee seed.  Then, the seeds (which are what we consider the coffee beans) are fermented and dried. 

Finally, you will visit the roasting plant named Café Tres Generaciones and learn about the various roasts that Doka Estates offers before ending at the gift shop and given a free sampling all of the eight blends produced at Doka Estate.  Coffee prices are very reasonable at the shop, especially given the excellent quality of the product.

Details

Tours depart on Mondays to Fridays at 9:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

On Saturdays and Sundays, they offer all of the above tours except for the 3:30 p.m. tour

The tour alone costs around $20 USD, but many tour operators offer options that include transport from San Jose.

Bring a hat and sunscreen because most of the tour is outdoors.