Part 2...El Toledo Coffee Tour...A farming experience unlike any other...


 Our video of roasting coffee beans at El Toledo Coffee Tour.
These dark beans were as a result of the end of the roasting cycle, created the darkest roast which much to our surprise contained the least caffeine.  The light roast, produced at the beginning of the roasting cycle contains the highest levels of caffeine. (See our above video) Who knew?
"Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica"
Yesterday afternoon this visitor came to call.  This lizard, most likely a Chameleon was bright green near the vegetation and gray, in order to blend is with the rocks and stone on the veranda.  Fascinating!
When we met farmer/owner Gabriel his warmth, openness and innate desire to provide each visitor with an exceptional experience were highly evidenced in his welcoming demeanor. 

Arriving earlier than the scheduled 2:00 pm tour, as mentioned in yesterday's post, we had an opportunity to "pick his brain" about his farming techniques coupled with his passion for the farm which has been in his family for 85-years.

Bananas/plantains growly abundantly in the coffee fields.
Over the years, they've changed his farm from growing beans to be marketed to other manufacturers, to working and producing their beans, packaging their product and bringing it to market to local citizens and visitors.
Each Friday, he and his dad each take up residence at each of two local farmers markets, one in Atenas and the other in La Garita (which we've yet to visit but will do so soon).  
Coffee beans, not ready for the harvest until they turn red.
They each set up a display of their fine coffee beans, both ground and whole bean along with their delicious coffee wines, the red of which both Tom and I tasted and found to be of a very good red wine quality, somewhat similar to a Port wine.  The white was considerably drier and reminded me of a quality Sauturne.
A type of Heliconia plant growing wild in the coffee fields.
There were four major elements to El Toledo Coffee Tour:
1.  The introduction and discussion about organic verses traditional farming and our own misconceptions; how diversity in growing a wide array of other fruits and plants along with the coffee beans may eventually impact the quality of the flavor of the coffee beans; how he sees the growth of the farm in years to come; the  introduction of other coffee bean products such as the "juice" and the two varieties of wine.
2.  The trek through the hilly terrain, up and down steep and muddy inclines due to recent rains, lasted almost two hours.  We stopped many times along the way as Gabriel explained the value and use of a variety of other crops he's begun to harvest and of course, all about coffee bean growing.  (It was a vigorous hike.  At one point, Tom mumbled "The Queen's Bath" and although it was nowhere near as dangerous, at many points it was quite tricky.  Click here for the most dangerous trek in our travels in Kauai Hawaii).
3.  A return to the cafe for the coffee tasting, wine tasting and more educational discussion during which we asked questions.
4.  The actual roasting process for which we've included the above video.
Many varieties of flowering plants grow prolifically in the fields attracting insects which are used as a deterrent to keep the insects off of the coffee beans as opposed to using toxic pesticides.
Here are a few notes from El Toledo Coffee Tour's website that further exemplifies the nature of the above discussions:
"Welcome to El Toledo!

Toledo coffee is a project that features coffee production in harmony with the environment. Here on the farm, we try to use natural resources to produce our organic coffee in a way that minimizes the impact on nature! To be able to reach this objective it is necessary to make a lot of changes to a typical coffee plantation-changes that we have implemented over the years and are glad we did.

First of all, an organic coffee plantation requires a different way of living and thinking about life. We cannot think that the most important thing is the money, because our health, our future, and the environment are priceless!

Gabriel's father was sorting black beans, frijoles negros which also are grown on the farm.
Once we achieved this change in our thinking, the next step was a matter of understanding and opening our eyes to everything we do in order to preserve our future and our health. In other words, we had to avoid using chemicals and damaging the environment in a way that could harm our health and put our future at risk! It is important to understand is nature, as simple and as complicated as it is! Nature acts wisely. It is able to make everything grow in harmony, however, when we try to control everything in our own way, we break all those functions using techniques that would make more problems instead of doing better!

Did you know people can grow organic products and still be against the environment?

We've learned so many things in our 20 years experience that we want to share with you! Now, our method of production is not only compliant with all the standards of organic farming in accordance with the certification we have. It's more than that. It's using the standards of nature to work with and not against it, and that is the principle by which we live and operate our plantation!"
Check out the size of these plantains, a type of banana.  Gabriel in the hat in this photo, kept us all educated and entertained during the tour.
During our five years of world travel (as of upcoming October 31st), we've visited many farms and agricultural businesses which provided us with an education that has enhanced our lives and travels.  But, Thursday's tour with Gabriel at El Toledo Coffee Tour will always remain as one of our favorites. 
While the coffee roaster was working, Gabriel removed some of the beans at varying stages to illustrate how the color and richness of the roast changes, the longer the beans are roasted.
Right now, I'm avoiding coffee due to its high acidity but hopefully soon, while we're still in Atenas, I'll be able to enjoy a full cup of El Toledo's light roast.  In the interim, Tom will continue to enjoy the bag of light roast we purchased at the farm.

Enjoy a cup of locally grown coffee this weekend, wherever you may be!
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Photo from one year ago today, September 10, 2016:
Beautiful beach scene from a stop halfway through the four to five-hour harrowing drive from the airport in Denpasar Bali to the villa in Sumbersari.  For more photos, please click here.

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