We arrived at Doka Estate Coffee Plantation at about 8:30am. It’s only about a 30 minute drive from Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in Alajuela, making it an ideal excursion to either begin or end a vacation. We made reservations in advance via dokaestate.com, although they were probably not necessary. The tour we purchased was $26/person and included breakfast or lunch.
The grounds and buildings at Doka Estate were very clean and well-maintained. The estate consists of an open air restaurant, butterfly garden, bonsai garden, coffeemuseum, gift shop, processing plant, roasting factory, and, of course, a coffee plantation. The employees we had the privilege of meeting were very helpful, courteous, and extremely pleasant (I’ll explain that in a second).
La Cajuela Restaurant is a cafeteria style restaurant that serves “tipico” fare. The typical Tico diet consists of fresh fruits (bananas, plantains, melons, etc.), a protein (usually eggs for breakfast and chicken or fish for lunch/dinner), and gallo pinto (black beans and rice) with a slice of cheese on top. I became somewhat of an expert on this particular dish, having had it for breakfast and/or dinner almost every day for two weeks straight. In my opinion, La Cajuela had the best recipe for this tasty meal…hands down. It was simply delicious! Oh yeah, and the coffee was amazing too! In addition to the flavorful food and drink, the good-natured staff provided us with delightful entertainment. During breakfast, one of the employees sang cheerfully while she worked. Another staff member found an ornate yellow-eyed tree frog and brought it to our table, allowing us to photograph it (without flash).
After breakfast, we had about a half hour to kill before the tour began. We decided to pass the time by perusing the butterfly garden. The botanical garden is navigable through a small network of suspended walkways and bridges. As a novice, I identified at least four different butterfly species during our brief stroll through the garden. The Blue Morpho and Monarch were among the most prevalent species. I wish we had more time to explore the garden, but our tour was about to begin.
If you are a coffee addict like me, this is a must-do tour. Our bilingual guide, Diana, had extensive knowledge of the coffee industry and made the tour a great experience. She would intermittently quiz us on both spanish and coffee facts. We also found out that she was the cheerful singer we heard earlier in the restaurant. The tour takes you through part of the plantation, processing plant, roasting factory, and ends in the gift shop where you are offered free coffee samples and chocolate covered coffee beans. Just outside the front entrance to the gift shop is a flight of stairs that leads up to an observation deck. The view of the plantation and the Central Valley is gorgeous. The entire tour lasts between an hour to hour and a half and is absolutely worth every minute!
Random Costa Rican Coffee Facts
- It takes around 4 years for a coffee tree to start producing cherries.
- Coffee beans are not actually beans. They are the seeds inside of coffee cherries.
- Breakfast Blend, Italian Roast, French Roast, and other flavors all come from the same “beans.” The difference in taste is simply how long the beans are roasted (typically between 15-20 minutes).
- Coffee trees thrive in central Costa Rica’s environment; high elevation, abundant sunlight, plenty of rain, and fertile soil.
See more reviews of Doka Estate Coffee Tour at Tripadvisor.com.