It’s coffee picking season here in Costa Rica! Coffee is one of Costa Rica’s main exports – 90% of Costa Rica’s coffee is exported. This time of year, which is the dry season (otherwise known as “summer”), you will start seeing trucks full of coffee pickers on the roads going up the mountain ridges – very early in the morning (before I’m up) and back down in late afternoon. When Greg & I hike, we can tell it’s coffee picking season, as all the coffee plants have bright red, glossy “cherries” on them – and this is the perfect time for them to be picked.
Costa Rica only grows high-grade coffee “Arabica”, and since 1982 the government has required all the coffee grown here to be Arabica coffee. This type of coffee is produced at altitudes of approximately 2400 – 4500 ft (which makes sense as we live at 4600 ft and there’s tons of coffee farms by our house).
Here in Costa Rica, the coffee cherries are all picked by hand, because the coffee fields here are almost entirely on slopes and hills – where mechanical methods would just not be practical. The coffee cherries are usually picked in multiple waves – to insure that all of the cherries are picked at their optimal time.
Most typically, the coffee farms (“finca’s”) bring in workers from our neighboring country to the north – Nicaragua. The Nicaraguans will work very inexpensively and stay here for as long as they need to, and stay in very humble and minimalistic houses while they are here. This is NOT a job to be treated lightly – these workers work HARD. They hike up and down hills all day long while carrying a huge canastos (basket) made of bejuco (a type of vine) to collect their coffee cherries – a huge workout for anyone. They also wear very high, durable boots – why? Because the coffee fields are laden with spiders (huge – like, tarantulas!) and scorpions and snakes of all kinds (NOTE TO SELF – I COULD NEVER BE A COFFEE PICKER).
I, for one, am very thankful I chose to live in such a great country – which is abundant with COFFEE. I love coffee!
Cheers! — Jen