I sip tea more often than coffee, and not because I am taming a caffeine addiction – I’m simply picky. It’s hard to find the good stuff. I’m not seeking it for a jump-start to my morning, for that, I’m sure Folger’s could incite a heart attack. I’m looking for a dark afternoon dream…something that I found while traveling to Central America.
Costa Rican coffee is more widely known than Panamanian. Coffee has been Costa Rica’s number number 1 cash crop for decades, and it has been grown in the region since the 1700’s. There was a law passed that requires that every Costa Rican employee is entitled to one free cup of coffee per day.
Coffee plantations are more prevalent in the north of the country, near the volcano and in the hills surrounding San Jose. Though the plantations are a major source of income for the country, and employ a large percentage of the population, the industry is certainly not without it’s negative effects on the environment. Everything is better in moderation.
The coffee itself though is strong and dark. Even the ‘cheap stuff’ that you’ll find in the grocery store and at the complimentary hotel breakfasts is wonderful – as long as it says ‘100% pura’ on the package, you’re golden.
Though coffee growing has a long history in Costa Rica and even Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, Panama had been left out of the equation until recent years. Now Panama brings some of the best cup of joe to high level competition. Crisp, light and floral is how Panama likes it’s coffee. Most of the plantations are located around Vulcan Baru and Boquete in northern Panama. This type of coffee is known as the Geisha variety, sought after by high bidders in the industry.
I brought some of both back, organic and rain forest friendly…and maybe after all of this i shouldn’t tell you that my preferred sweetener is Vermont maple syrup. Up here in Vermont, it’s all I can do to get the best of both worlds.