Just a Few Pictures

Lawson and I figured that some pictures may help you guys realize how amazing this place is. More to follow soon!

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Retro rocking through day 2

To start off, most of you reading this probably have no idea just how much goes into preparing the coffee beans before they are even roasted.  I am not going to talk about that because you can read it in a book. I am going to continue to tell you the tale of two Ferris interns and the adventures that they have while learning about the coffee industry.

The day begins with David and I waking up much earlier than we needed to. For those of you who know me, this is not something that I typically experience. Our contact said he would meet us in the lobby of our hotel at 9 (low and behold all cultural stereotypes hold true, he arrived at 9:30). From there we were met with many comments of how much younger we are than their typical clients and how beautiful the women are in various parts of Costa Rica and how we need to go to these places and meet the women. It took much time and some effort for us to communicate the point that although we are younger than their other clients, we actually came here to learn everything we could about coffee. That fact seemed to confuse them (the people here are very proud of how beautiful their women are). Upon arriving at the Coffee Terroirs office we met our main contact, Rafa. Rafa spoke sentences in word form, “Howareyounicetomeetyou. Webasicallyshutdownduringtheworldcuparoundhere.” The best David and I could do to keep up with the conversation was to smile and nod. The coffee industry had obviously had its affect on Rafa.

Rafa had assigned a man named Otero to show us around various coffee mills. Here they are called Co-ops and Beneficiaries. You may wonder what these mills were like… Imagine the hyper kid in your grade school class that played with Legos… Now Imagine that he was given a lot of metal and machines to connect. Most of the places we visited were built in the 40’s and one of them was upgraded in the 60’s. As more machines are added to the facilities, walkways are built using unconventional methods through existing structures to connect them. For anyone who has seen a James Bond movie, or any older action movie for that matter, imagine the classic gun fight scenes where they are in some old industrial factory with tons of scary looking machinery. You know, the machinery that one of the bad guy ends up falling into before he dies. That is the best description of the places we went. The metal bounced like a trampoline under my feet and I walked in a crouch for most of our tours trying to avoid hitting my head on various sharp, tetanus-giving pieces of metal. Apparently they are a lot safer and nicer than they were 20 years ago, they give thanks to the many regulations that have been put in place since then. But to me it all looked like devices that would be used in a horror movie. Ok, I have made that point clear. With those regulations came composting… We arrived at this part of the tour at 2 p.m. which is about 3 hours later than we would normally eat lunch back home. With the composting of the coffee, fruit, and shell byproducts came an odor that (I kid you not) I could taste. Imagine that Fermenting Cranberry Juice had a party with Sewage and that is what I could taste.

But the day quickly took a turn for the better. With our heads stuffed with knowledge and our bellies empty and churning our guide, Otero took us out for an authentic Costa Rican meal. It was called something like Casado and consisted of pit roasted pork, rice, beans, plantains, a potato and meat mixture, and some kind of vegetable salad. It was precisely what we needed. One of my highlights of the day was experiencing that music really is the universal language. Otero would translate for us during our tours, his english is pretty good, our spanish is terrible… But when we were in the car driving to different places we all took turns hitting the high notes to “Stayin Alive” by the Bee Gees, Bob Dylan, The Police, and my personal favorite “All Night Long” by Lionel Richie. None of us knew all the lyrics to the songs but we knew the tunes. As the radio host would announce the name of the song to play next Otero would smile really big and say with a thick accent “Oh theis song issa gud wan… vary nu, vary nu” then would burst into laughter at his own joke.

Back in our hotel room by 7:20 with exhausted feet and heads spinning with the business side of coffee (which David took pages upon pages of notes on so he can explain it to you if you would like) (edit by david: not gunna happen). Tomorrow holds some more coffee visits and a coffee cupping.

Feel like you are missing out? Go to Ferriscoffee.com and order some coffee from Costa Rica. Chances are that some of our new found friends played a part in getting it to you.

Enjoying the little things,

-Lawson

The adventures of two Ferris interns…

Welcome family, friends, and coffee lovers. We would like to share with you the adventures that David VanTongeren, and I, Lawson Bunch, have as we learn more about the beloved world of coffee.

Today started early as we flew from Chicago to Houston, where due to delays we were forced to sprint through the airport and jump on the back of a golf cart to make it to our connecting flight to San Jose, Costa Rica with just minutes to spare. Upon reaching our assigned seats on the plane we would find out that the two older… to call them gentlemen would be far too kind, explained to us why they loved Costa Rica. After hearing all of their advice we knew precisely what not to do during our stay here. Nevertheless it made a memory and most likely made everyone else within ear shot feel uncomfortable. The men working customs didn’t even acknowledge our presence. We put our bags on the conveyor belt and walked to the other side and picked them up. No one even pretended to look at the x-ray monitor. That laid back attitude was our first taste of how life is lived here.

Upon arriving in San Jose, we were welcomed with a steady yet light rain with low hanging clouds drifting back and forth, taking turns hiding the surrounding mountains from view. Weary from a day of travel we decided to eat dinner within walking distance of our hotel. After finishing our entree’s the waiter asked if we would like coffee or dessert. We started to say no then remembered we are on a coffee internship… how can we say no to coffee?! The waiter brought us two cups of espresso with steamed milk on the side. I took the cup in my hands, held it close to my face and breathed deep. The aroma was overwhelming, it was everything a cup should be, without realizing it I said aloud, “WOW this is amazing!” which our waiter in response smiled proudly and replied, “Yeah, you are in Costa Rica”. If this is any indication of what is to come then this will most surely be a trip of a lifetime. To have arguably the best cup of coffee in ones life, before even having visited the coffee plantations… We were grinning like fools.

I hope you will join us in what adventures tomorrow will bring. Bring a cup of your favorite blend to the computer with you, and take a minute to journey with us through the coffee plantations of Costa Rica.

Until then, enjoy the small things…

-Lawson Bunch