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Cafe Britt

Cafe Britt

Quick Facts

  • Location : Barva, Heredia
  • Altitude : 3,845 feet above sea level
  • Area : 6 acres
  • Hours : 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily
  • Telephone : 2277-1600
  • Entrance Fee : $20-$35; reservations recommended

Founded in 1985, Cafe Britt is Costa Rica's first gourmet coffee roasting business. The company purchases high quality beans from the country's best plantations, then roasts the coffee in their own mills under the watchful eyes of experienced roasters. The result is a nationwide cooperative designed to produce bold, rich coffees that are both environmentally friendly and available locally, as well as on the international market.

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Coffee Tours: 

Become one of more than 500,000 visitors to Cafe Britt in Barva de Heredia, a small town just seven miles north of San Jose. Since Cafe Britt is a coffee roaster, not grower, the grounds are a replica coffee plantation, reproducing the elements of authentic fields, a coffee mill, and a roaster. Part education, part entertainment, the tour employs professional actors to inject humor and theater at every turn.

The tour begins with a greeting from Don Prospero, the plantation's fictional owner. Leading guests to the coffee nursery, Don Prospero and his assistants – his knowledgeable family members – delve into the lifecycle of a coffee bean. If the plants are ripe, visitors are invited to taste raw coffee cherries while tour guides explain why Costa Rica's unique climate, volcanic soil, and shade-bearing trees produce such high quality coffee beans. 

Progressing through the green-and-red fields, guests are introduced to the harvesting process. Armed with just two hands and a large, woven basket, a guide demonstrates the cherry-picking process – and explains why handpicked fruits are far superior to machine harvested. Lured by the scents of delicious java roasts, the next stop is at Britt's roasting headquarters. Here, visitors watch the five-step roasting process: bean selection, peeling, soaking, drying and roasting. 

The excursion ends at the Cafe Britt Theater, where the tour's guides don their theatrical finery and put on a humorous show to illustrate the history of coffee, particularly in Costa Rica. Diehard coffee connoisseurs will enjoy the four-hour Coffee Lovers Tour, which combines the Classic Coffee Tour with a visit to a working wet mill in San Rafael de Heredia, a presentation on how to select the best beans, and coffee brewing classes with a professional barista.

Cafe Britt's popular Classic Coffee Tour begins at 9:30 and 11 a.m. daily; there is an additional 3 p.m. tour December 15-April 30. The Coffee Lovers Tour begins at 11 a.m. daily. Roundtrip transportation and buffet lunches are optional add-ons.

Facilities: 

There is a large souvenir shop, coffee bar, and restaurant in Cafe Britt's main building. The Classic Coffee Tour navigates mostly paved trails, so closed footwear is not necessary. Hiking shoes are recommended for the Coffee Lovers Tour.

Weather: 

Typical daytime temperatures run 75 to 80°F. Take a raincoat or umbrella during the rainy season (May-November).

Getting There: 

Car: From the National University in downtown Heredia, follow Route 3 north until it ends at a T-intersection. Turn left, drive five blocks and make a right on Route 126. Pass the Auto Mercado supermarket on the right side and Barva castle on the left, and follow signs to Cafe Britt.

Cafe Britt in Pictures