I still remember my first sip of coffee from my dad’s mug when I was a kid. I thought it was disgusting. It’s a bit like beer: you don’t really develop a taste for it until college. By now I must have brewed hundreds of batches and ordered hundreds of cups at local shops, but I didn’t know how coffee was made until we took a tour at Cafe Britt in Heredia, Costa Rica.
In this review of the Cafe Britt Classic Coffee Tour, you’ll find an overview of our tour experience and my thoughts on the tour. Is it worth seeing? Is it worth the price? I’ll answer these questions here. You may also see a photo of a cute fuzzy that made a brief appearance — giving our tour an extra splash of flavor.
We visited Cafe Britt on a Tuesday afternoon in February, joining two tour guides and just five other tourists for the 3:15 tour. After purchasing tickets ($22/adult, $17/student) at the ticket booth, we were welcomed to enjoy a sample of coffee and sit in the shade while we waited for the tour to begin. Cafe Britt also takes online reservations.
The Classic Coffee Tour began with a brief overview of the history of coffee growing and roasting throughout the world. This was probably the least interesting part of the tour, but it was very brief and included visual aids — it would have kept my attention even if I was 20 years younger (i.e. it’s a kid-friendly activity). From there everything was interactive or hands-on, and we were moving along to something new every few minutes.
It’s a kid-friendly activity.
The Lifecycle of Gourmet Coffee
While Cafe Britt doesn’t grow their own coffee (they roast and package coffee that’s shipped from other regions in Costa Rica), they’ve created a small-scale setting that gives you a good idea of what coffee farming looks like. There are real coffee plants of a variety of ages that you’ll see on the tour, and we saw and had a chance to handle both the berry-like coffee fruits and the dried coffee beans.
They even had several cacao trees, which are typically grown in conjunction with coffee bushes on a plantation. On our tour we spotted a squirrel climbing in one tree, attempting to snack on the cacao hanging from its branches.
We sat down twice for brief demonstrations on coffee harvesting, fermentation, and the sorting process used for selecting only the high quality beans from a harvest. Our tour guides used helpful props to illustrate the process, making it easy to understand.
Did you know? Microwaving coffee releases its waxes which in turn gives you gas. (Yikes!) We learned this and many other coffee facts on Cafe Britt’s Classic Coffee Tour.
After a peek into the roastery and an explanation of how different roasting times affect the characteristics and flavor of the coffee, we were led into a small theater (maybe 50 seats) for a video showing the various sources of Cafe Britt’s beans as well as a tasting demonstration — the final step in determining whether a particular batch of beans makes the cut.
I particularly enjoyed this part, as I volunteered to be a taster!
The size of the theater made it obvious that our small group size was probably not the norm; I’d imagine the midday tours are more crowded since lunch is available then, which caters toward larger tour groups. Perhaps the afternoon tour is a fantastic secret we discovered!
Yes, you exit through the gift shop. While it may be cliché, it didn’t come off as pushy in the least.
The tour concluded in the gift shop, where our guide showed us directly to the free tasting area in the back. He quickly explained the deals they were offering and then left us to stay and sample or shop as we pleased. While some people have found this off-putting (according to at least one review on TripAdvisor), I really didn’t find this pushy at all. I quite enjoyed the opportunity to taste all of the coffee flavors — and they had samples of their chocolates, too! So yes, you exit through the gift shop. While it may be cliché, it didn’t come off as pushy in the least.
A Lighthearted, Fun Experience
There are many reasons I enjoyed and would recommend this tour to Costa Rica visitors, but here are the main ones:
- The guides are talented (and funny) actors that are GOOD at keeping you entertained. I’d say it’s near Disney in performance quality.
- It never got boring. The tour lasts 90 minutes and the pace was just right.
- Student pricing — a $5 student discount
- Transportation and/or lunch can be booked along with a tour for an additional cost. (We’re staying locally and didn’t need either.)
- Interactivity (always a plus)
- Visual aids (not just good for kids)
Is this tour worth seeing? I’d say absolutely. Is it worth the price? Another yes. In short, I give the Cafe Britt Classic Coffee Tour two thumbs up!
A few more photos from our tour: