Through hands-on coffee plantation tours, you can learn how Costa Rica's climate and environment are ideal for coffee production—and taste the country's award-winning java. Whether using San José as a hub or visiting Monteverde or Arenal/La Fortuna, you can tour coffee farms, production facilities, and even an eco-lodge offering coffee, chocolate, and sugar cane tours, plus add wildlife viewing into the mix.

Coffee tours are popular in Costa Rica, as the country's unique volcanic soil and cooler high-altitude climates produce the flavors and aromas the world has grown to love. Culturally and economically, coffee is a staple of the country. You have several choices for coffee experiences in Costa Rica, many combining coffee with chocolate, sugar cane, wildlife, and more. Kimkim recommends the six experiences below, detailing the experiences, so you can choose what's best for you.

Don Juan Tour

Learn all about coffee production at Don Juan (Photo courtesy of Don Juan Tour)

Features: coffee, chocolate, sugar cane, wildlife night tours
Locations: Monteverde or Arenal/La Fortuna

Don Juan offers coffee tours in two locations, so you can learn all about Costa Rican java in Monteverde or Arenal/La Fortuna. However, we recommend touring in Monteverde, since that’s where the family grows Don Juan’s famous coffee beans. In both settings, you’ll dive deep into the entire process behind two of the world’s most coveted substances: coffee and chocolate. From seed to cup and bean to bar, get a hands-on, interactive experience, complete with tastings and making your own chocolate. In Monteverde, your experience will also include a sugar cane tour, and in either Arenal or Monteverde, you can opt for a wildlife tour at night. 

Don Juan himself was born in the 1930s into one of Monteverde’s pioneer farming families. What started as a small farm grew into a coffeehouse and, eventually, a coffee processing plant. A guided tour of the plantation takes you along paved paths (accessible to wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers), passing local species of flora. Although the coffee, chocolate, and sugar cane are located in slightly different areas of the farm, the paths intertwine perfectly, so you can easily enjoy learning about all three.

Coffee Tour: Start with a complete history lesson on coffee in Costa Rica, which covers the cultural and economic significance. Then, discover how coffee plants grow and produce fruit, how workers harvest the fruit, and how beans are extracted and roasted. You’ll experience coffee with all your senses and grasp the amount of labor (and love) that goes into your morning cup of joe.

Chocolate Tour: Like the coffee tour, you’ll also learn the entire process, including growing the plant, extracting the seeds, and roasting the beans of the fruit. With each step, you’ll taste chocolate in its many forms, from bitter cocoa nibs to picture-perfect bars, plus enjoy Costa Rica’s beloved drinking chocolate.

Sugar cane Tour: Likewise, enjoy learning about sugar cane as you chew on its sweet stalk origins. Discover how Costa Ricans create cherished treats like agua dulce by pressing the sugar cane stalk to extract the sugar. Enjoy a taste for yourself of this sweetened water!

Night Tour: Experience the jungle at night, when an entirely new group of animals comes out to eat, socialize, and play. Some common species that are active at night include frogs, salamanders, spiders, other insects, sloths, monkeys, and more. Of course, your night tour includes a cup of coffee to keep you going!

How to visit: In Monteverde, you have your choice of three types of tours: a 3-in-1 Coffee, Chocolate, and Sugar cane Tour; 3-in-1 Coffee, Chocolate, and Wildlife Night Tour; and a standalone Wildlife Night Tour. In Arenal, you have two tour options: the 2-in-1 Coffee and Chocolate Tour and the 2-in-1 Chocolate and Wildlife Night Tour.

How to get there: For Monteverde, head northwest from Santa Elena on Route 606 for about two miles (less than 10 minutes). You’ll see the entrance to Don Juan Tours on your left. For Arenal, head just a little over one mile north from La Fortuna via Calle 468 and Avenida 351. To make it a little easier, tours can also include transportation to and from your accommodation.

Quick Facts:

  • Adult pricing: $28 - $45
  • Child pricing: $10 - $30
  • Family-owned business
  • Two tour locations (Monteverde and Arenal/La Fortuna)
  • Tours available at Monteverde: Coffee, chocolate, sugar cane, wildlife night tour
  • Tours available in Arenal: Coffee, chocolate, wildlife night tour
  • Monteverde: Open daily, tours starting at 8:00 am, 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm (night tours start at 5:50 pm)
  • Arenal: Open daily, tours starting at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm (night tours start at 5:50 pm)
  • Accessible, paved walking paths
  • Arenal location features a covered tour (good for rainy days)
  • Tours last about 2 hours
  • On-site reception and café
  • On-site parking (complimentary)
  • Reservations required

El Trapiche

Explore Costa Rican sugar cane, coffee, and chocolate at El Trapiche. (Photo Courtesy of El Trapiche)

Features: sugar cane, coffee, chocolate
Location: Monteverde

El Trapiche is a great option if your interests go beyond coffee, as this farm focuses a bit more on sugar cane. However, you will get the entire experience, learning the processes behind sugar cane, coffee, and chocolate. 

The word trapiche means “sugar mill,” and El Trapiche established itself in Monteverde in 1948. In 2005, the family’s dream of making the plantation a place of education became a reality, and now you can enjoy a full tour of the farm. You’ll start with walking the grounds and learning a bit about each growing area: sugar cane, coffee, and chocolate, plus bananas, plantains, arracache, macadamia, and oranges. 

After enjoying a tour of the grounds, you’ll focus on the big three: sugarcane, coffee, and chocolate. 

Sugar cane Tour: Your host will show you the three types of trapiches used on the farm: a manual sugar mill, an oxen mill, and a water mill. You’ll learn about sugar cane cultivation and the natural history of the crop, plus enjoy a little tasting. This part of the tour is quite interactive, as you’ll make your own candy using sugar cane and taste several varieties, such as those made with brown sugar, caramel, and traditional perica and sobado (fudge-like candy). 

Coffee Tour: Get a complete view of the process of producing coffee, including planting, crushing, peeling, and roasting. Enjoy an up-close look at some of the machinery and labor required to produce this prized beverage. Learn about harvesting, drying, and roasting while tasting some of the coffee produced on the farm.

Chocolate Tour: You’ll observe step-by-step how to produce the form of chocolate we know and love. Many first-timers are surprised that chocolate starts as a fruit, so you’ll discover how the trees that produce the fruit grow and pollinate, the seed fermentation process, and then the final steps of drying, roasting, and grinding. Of course, you’ll enjoy some chocolate tastings, too!

Other tour highlights include riding in an oxen cart and tasting gallo de arracache, a traditional and savory Costa Rican dish. Enjoy your snack with a cup of coffee, lemonade, or agua dulce (sweetened water made with sugarcane). You might also see some wildlife as you walk around the farm and through the property’s forests.

How to visit: There is only one tour option at El Trapiche, which includes sugar cane, coffee, and chocolate. Transportation is included in the cost of your tour booked through kimkim. 

How to get there: From Santa Elena, head northwest on Route 606 for a little over two miles (about 10 minutes). 

Quick Facts:

  • Adult pricing: $72
  • Child pricing: $65
  • Family-owned business
  • Tourism Sustainability Certification
  • Open daily 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Guided tours begin at 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm
  • Tours last about two hours long
  • Free WiFi available
  • Reservations required

Let kimkim help organize your coffee farm experience at El Trapiche

Coffee’N Jungle

Observe coffee and wildlife with a nighttime jungle tour.

Features: wildlife night tours, coffee, chocolate
Location: Monteverde

If you’re looking for a unique coffee tour or are short on time, Coffee’N Jungle is the one for you. This experience combines learning about coffee and chocolate with a walk through the jungle at night. Tours start at 5:30 pm and include unlimited coffee to keep you awake!

This tour is perfect for travelers who are looking for a more off-the-beaten-path experience that is less commercialized, as Coffee’N Jungle caters to smaller groups and individualized experiences. If you’re a coffee connoisseur or have previously toured a coffee plantation, the guides will gladly adjust the experience to your interests and knowledge.

After learning a bit more about coffee and chocolate with a crops expert and farmer who comes from generations of coffee plantation owners, you’ll head out onto the property to search for active wildlife. Your guide will teach you a bit about the night sky and try to cater the experience to your interests. Is there a specific animal you’re hoping to see? They’ll do their best to try and find it for you!

Coffee Tour: You’ll start with learning about the process of making coffee, from taking care of new plants to roasting the beans. Along the way, your host will share industry secrets so you’re better informed about how to choose good coffee. You’ll also learn how to properly prepare and taste your brew.

Chocolate Tour: Next, enjoy a short chocolate tour, which starts with origin stories from Costa Rica’s First Nations populations. Discover the process of producing chocolate from fruit to bar and enjoy a tasting.

Wildlife Tour: Lastly, head out into the jungle to experience the area’s nocturnal wildlife. About 50% of Coffee’N Jungle’s property is protected forest, which includes a riparian ecosystem. Your host will help you try to spot animals, including frogs, snakes, sloths, insects, birds, and more.

How to visit: This unique tour only operates at night starting at 5:30 pm and ending at 8:00 pm. The experience includes coffee, chocolate, and wildlife tours, plus flashlights and unlimited coffee.

How to get there: From Santa Elena, head northwest on Route 606 for about five miles (15 minutes). Transportation can also be included with this tour for an additional cost.

Quick Facts:

  • Adult pricing: $50 (including transportation)
  • Child pricing: $25 (including transportation)
  • Open daily with tours starting at 5:30 pm
  • Tour lasts 2.5 hours
  • Tours combine coffee, chocolate, and wildlife
  • Complimentary flashlights and unlimited coffee provided
  • Reservations required

Let kimkim help organize your coffee and nighttime wildlife experience at Coffee'N Jungle.

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Finca Rosa Blanca

The team at Finca Rosa Blanca. (Photo Courtesy of Finca Rosa Blanca)

Features: organic coffee, eco-lodge, farm-to-table restaurant
Location: San José

For a truly immersive coffee experience in Costa Rica—and perfect for couples or travelers looking for a romantic hidden escape just outside San José—we recommend Finca Rosa Blanca, an organic coffee farm featuring an eco-hotel, a farm-to-table restaurant, and coffee tours. A beautiful property set in the hills and within the forest, Finca Rosa Blanca was named one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World and included in Fodor’s Best 100 Hotels of the World.  But you don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to enjoy a coffee tour at the property.

The property’s sustainability tour is included in the room rate (along with plenty of coffee and a full, a la carte breakfast), but its coffee tour (and other available tours) are open to the public for an additional price. As a guest, you also have complimentary access to the farm’s numerous walking paths that stretch across its 30 acres. About 137 bird species call the grounds home, and complimentary birding guides are available. You can also stop by the Casa Del Café to watch the roasting process anytime you’d like.

Coffee Tour: Finca Rosa Blanca offers a comprehensive coffee tour that features interactive opportunities and a lesson on “cupping,” the art of slurping your coffee. Though it doesn’t sound proper, it’s the best way to taste all the individual flavors in your cup.

The tour starts in the high-altitude, hilly, and shaded fields of the property with a nature walk, which offers a glimpse into why Costa Rica’s environment and climate are ideal for coffee production. As you walk, learn a bit about the country’s history of coffee cultivation and how it plays an important role in Costa Rica's culture, heritage, and economy.

Next, you’ll observe the entire process of coffee production, including plant development, cultivation, harvesting, and roasting. Watch how the berries are washed, sorted, dried, and roasted, all a part of the labored journey to deliver coffee to homes around the world. At the last step of the process, you’ll enjoy a detailed presentation and opportunities to interact with the workers. If you visit during the harvesting season (October to January), you can even help pick and taste the berries.

Finally, join an expert presentation on how to properly test and rate coffee. Here is where you’ll try your hand at the cupping process, which involves smelling and slurping your coffee to experience all the different aromas and flavors of the brew. You’ll also learn the secrets behind preparing the perfect cup of joe, and you can practice your newfound skills at the coffee bar. At the end of the tour, claim your spot on the property’s deck to enjoy a fresh cup and views of the Central Valley.

How to visit: Enjoy an overnight stay at Finca Rosa Blanca to indulge a bit in the Costa Rican coffee experience. If you’re just looking for the coffee tour and nothing more, tours begin at 9:00 am or 1:00 pm.

How to get there: From downtown San José, head northwest out of the city via the Interamericana Route 1. Transition north onto Route 123 and then to Route 128 in the town of Santa Bárbara. Turn left onto Calle Rosa Blanca. The entire journey covers about 12 miles and takes roughly 30 minutes.

Quick Facts:

  • $40 - $800 (ranging from standalone coffee tours to overnight stays)
  • Family-owned business
  • 100% organic coffee farm
  • Certificate for Sustainable Tourism
  • Coffee tours are offered daily at 9:00 am or 1:00 pm.
  • Tour lasts 2.5 hours
  • Tour open to all ages but not recommended for young children
  • On-site luxury eco-lodge hotel
  • On-site farm-to-table restaurant
  • On-site outdoor infinity pool and spa (guests only)
  • Complimentary access to nature trails
  • Other tours and half-or-full-day excursions available (additional fee)
  • Reservations required

Doka Estate

From flower to a cup of joe, discover the entire process at Doka Estate. (Photo Courtesy of Doka Estate)

Features: coffee, La Paz waterfall, Poas Volcano
Location: San José

If you’re flying into San José or want to use the capital city as a hub for a few days, a coffee tour at Doka Estate is a great way to combine a few of the area’s best adventures into a one-day excursion. The Doka Estate coffee plantation is a major production facility known around the world (and the largest of all the farms on this list). It's open for standalone tours, but many travelers opt for tour packages that include roundtrip transportation from San José and other stops or meals. If your schedule allows for a full-day experience, plan to be out and about exploring for 8 to 10 hours. 

Doka Estate sits in the Central Valley of Alajuela, so you have the opportunity to enjoy the Poás Volcano National Park and/or La Paz Waterfall Gardens in addition to a coffee tour. Kimkim can organize tours for you, which can include a coffee tour, a meal, a visit to the Poás Volcano, and/or a stop at La Paz Waterfall, plus transportation.

Coffee Tour: Doka Estate offers a tour that takes you from seed germination to roastery. Start by learning about the history of coffee in Costa Rica and the Doka Estate while at the seedling station. Here you can observe the many plants that grow on the farm and how workers cultivate the crop. 

Next, head inside to the production facilities and learn how the family behind Doka Estates were pioneers of coffee cultivation in the area, opening their doors in 1940. Observe the oldest wet mill in Costa Rica and 120-year-old coffee machinery. In the production room, you’ll watch the processes of seed separation, peeling, fermentation, and drying.

Finally, enjoy your time at the roastery, where you can further explore coffee with your senses. Feel the texture of the beans and grounds, smell the various aromas, and taste the flavors of several brews. End the tour by sipping the Estate’s famed Tres Generaciones coffee blends, paired perfectly with a little local chocolate.

Meals: Doka Estate features an on-site restaurant called La Cajuela, which serves a breakfast and lunch buffet daily. Breakfast is available from 7:00 to 9:00 am and lunch from 11:30 am to 2:00 pm.

Poás Volcano National Park: If you’d like to arrange a tour from San José, you can combine your coffee experience with a stop at Poás Volcano National Park, which sits at 8,885 feet (2,708 m). The park’s Poás Volcano is a stratovolcano with a crater that’s 1,050 feet (320 m) deep. Head up to the top of the volcano and enjoy a 10-minute hike to the crater where you can walk around and explore.  

La Paz Waterfall Gardens: Why not keep the adventure going and add the nearby La Paz Waterfall to your itinerary, too? The La Paz Waterfall Gardens sits among a dense rainforest and acts as a habitat for many creatures. You may spot monkeys or birds in the trees as you walk along the trails. 

This beautiful natural site features five waterfalls and several themed gardens, including a butterfly observatory, a hummingbird garden, a serpentarium, a frog exhibit, a trout lake, and more. In addition, there’s a sloth habitat and chances to see wildcats like jaguars, ocelots, and pumas.

How to visit: If you’d like to combine your coffee excursion with volcano views and waterfalls, you can depart from San José, typically in the morning to make the most out of your time. Standalone tours at Doka Estate require reservations and begin at 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 1:30 pm, and 2:30 pm daily, plus 3:30 pm Monday through Friday. 

How to get there: If leaving from San José, kimkim can arrange pick-up and drop-off from your accommodation. If driving on your own and starting from downtown San José, head northwest out of the city via Interamericana Route 1 and continue on Route 130 via the towns of Alajuela and Sabanilla. The entire journey takes around 50 minutes and covers about 19 miles.

Quick Facts:

  • Pricing: $23 – $165 (ranging from standalone coffee tours to multi-activity tours)
  • Family-owned business
  • Open daily
  • Monday - Friday tours start at 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, and 3:30 pm.
  • Saturday - Sunday tours start at 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 1:30 pm, and 2:30 pm.
  • Tours from San José leave in the morning and can combine coffee tours with on-site gardens, meals, the Poás Volcano National Park, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, and/or roundtrip transportation
  • On-site restaurant serving breakfast and lunch
  • On-site butterfly gardens
  • Reservations required

Let kimkim help organize your excursion to Doka Estates, Poás Volcano, and La Paz Waterfall.

Coffee & Sloths

Watch the sloths while sipping coffee. (Photo Courtesy of Toucan Rescue Ranch)

Features: coffee, wildlife
Location: San José

Many travelers visit Costa Rica for its coffee but are a bit more interested in the country’s beloved animal, the sloth. Combine the two with a Coffee & Sloths tour, where you’ll enjoy an educational walk and sip coffee from the popular Cafe Britt. This tour is ideal for travelers not interested in the origins of Costa Rican coffee, but rather who want to enjoy a cup or two while learning about the country’s wildlife. (Note that there is no coffee plantation tour included in this activity.)

This experience is organized by the Toucan Research Ranch (TRR), a nonprofit dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of wildlife found in Costa Rica. It's located in the Heredia Province north of San José. You'll enjoy walking the grounds of the TRR sanctuary, where your guide will detail the history, mission, and programs of the nonprofit, plus information regarding each resident species, including sloths, of course. Learn about wildlife conservation efforts in Costa Rica and how TRR rescues and rehabilitates the animals. Resident animals at the nonprofit include parrots, macaws, owls, sloths, spider monkeys, weasels, and more.

Next, you’ll head over to the sloth habitat, where fresh Costa Rican coffee and pastries from Cafe Britt await you. Sit down to enjoy your drinks and snacks while watching the sloths delight in their own breakfast. You’ll also watch them exercising, socializing, and doing their favorite activity—sleeping. Your guide will keep the information going with facts about the sloths of Costa Rica. 

How to visit: Tours start at 10:30 am Tuesday - Thursday and at 9:30 am Friday - Sunday. The sanctuary is closed on Mondays, and reservations are required, as the property isn’t open for drop-ins from the general public. 

How to get there: From downtown San José, head northeast out of the city via National Route 32. Turn left onto Route 112 and then right onto Calle Gemelo. The entire journey takes about 25 minutes and covers 10.5 miles.

Quick Facts:

  • Adult pricing: $32 - $62
  • Child pricing: $32 (kids 5 and younger are free)
  • Wildlife sanctuary and rescue center
  • No coffee tour is available
  • Grounds tour and 30 minutes with sloths
  • Complimentary coffee and pastries
  • Open Tuesday - Sunday
  • Tuesday - Thursday tours start at 10:30 am
  • Friday - Sunday tours start at 9:30 am
  • Tours last about 2.5 hours
  • Free WiFi available
  • Walking paths are level, graveled, and wheelchair accessible
  • Overnight accommodation available
  • Reservations required

Let kimkim help organize your coffee and sloths experiences at TRR

Additional Considerations

When to go. You can enjoy a coffee tour in Costa Rica at any time of the year, but you may find it more enjoyable during the dry season or harvest. The dry season typically runs from December to May, but if you visit coffee plantations in Monteverde, remember that you’re in the rainforest, and it can rain (at least a little bit) any time of the year. If you’d like to enjoy the harvest, which includes the chance to join workers and locals in picking the berries, plan to visit from October to January.

What to expect. Coffee plantation tours typically work their way through the entire coffee-production process. This will give you the best understanding of what goes into this laborious trade, making it a great option for first-timers or those with a passion for coffee. Expect to hear about the history of coffee in Costa Rica and how it links to cultural and economical significance. Many tours will also detail why Costa Rica is an ideal place to grow this beloved fruit, and why the county has won so many awards for its java.

Most likely, you’ll walk through the grounds to get a sense of what the plants look like and how farmers tend to them. Then you’ll head inside to get an up-close view of processing, which includes washing, extracting, drying, and roasting. Lastly, you’ll sample the plantation’s coffee and/or learn how to brew the best cup. You might be accompanied by professionals who will divulge the secrets of the best coffee preparation methods. If not, feel free to ask how you can replicate a delicious cup at home.

What to bring/wear. In most cases, closed-toed shoes and long pants are not required, but you will likely spend some time outside, so come prepared for the elements. You also may want to bring a little extra cash to purchase goodies to take home with you, or an additional snack to accompany your cup of coffee.

Map

Map of The Ultimate Guide to Costa Rican Coffee:  How to Choose the Best Experience For You
Map of The Ultimate Guide to Costa Rican Coffee: How to Choose the Best Experience For You