These shots are from Café Britt coffee and cocoa plantation, roaster, and processing factory in Heredia, Costa Rica. The whole place smells intoxicating, the heady scents of chocolate and roasting coffee hung suspended in the (way too) humid air. This is how your coffee and chocolate begin! It was so cool to wander through the plantation - I knew what cocoa pods looked like but it was surreal to see them hanging like Christmas ornaments off of the trees. Also, some banana trees apparently have a really weird appendage that look like some phallic Dr. Seuss mechanism. Before we left, I bought two gorgeous used coffee sacks, brightly colored burlap bags with coffee logos inspired by Costa Rican landmarks, for mere dollars. Unfortunately they don't smell like coffee, but they look great on my bedroom wall.
Surprisingly - or unsurprisingly, depending on your worldview - we didn't drink a lot of great coffee in Costa Rica. I was missing my Portland latte from Happy Sparrow on Belmont pretty hard after the first few days. You can't even buy Café Britt in most supermercados, because most everything is shipped elsewhere. I laughed when I read the label on one of the bags of coffee we bought; it was "Export Quality." It reminds me of living in Southern California, where, despite the fact that the state produces more of America's fruit and veg than anywhere else, it's pretty difficult to find local produce sold anywhere regular consumers can get at it. I think there is a need for a global food economy, but it's pretty crappy that the best of Central America doesn't stay in the region. It's really easy to get preachy and pessimistic about that issue, but it was good to physically get up to the trees laden with coffee berries and cocoa pods and connect the dots between those gorgeous living plants and my latte.