For Costa Ricans, coffee is more than just a caffeine kick. The coffee bean is nicknamed grano de oro — the golden grain — in part because of how the industry has shaped the entire country’s development. As one of the world's top exporters, you won't find a better cup of coffee anywhere else. Even Pope Francis is a fan, calling Costa Rica's brew "the world's best coffee."

So if there's one truly authentic Costa Rican experience to have, it's a trip to a coffee farm. Here are the best five coffee tours to take.  

Aerial view of a lush green coffee farm in Costa Rica
Costa Rica's mountainous terrain is the perfect environment for coffee production © OliverJW / Getty Images

The Costa Rica coffee tour experience

To truly understand Costa Rica's connection to the popular brew, a coffee tour is an excellent place to start. A traditional tour will begin with the history of coffee worldwide before guiding visitors through a farm to follow the process from seed to bean to cup.

Coffee is grown in mountainous regions across Costa Rica. Whether you arrive at Juan Santamaría International Airport (near San José) or Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (in Liberia), you can be on a coffee farm within 30 minutes. 

A rainbow arches over tall leafy trees on a coffee farm near Heredia, Costa Rica
There are a slew of traditional cafetales (coffee farms) dotted throughout Costa Rica © Alejandro Zúñiga / Lonely Planet

The best coffee-growing regions feature high altitude and volcanic soils that create an ideal climate for the plants. In Costa Rica, those conditions aren’t hard to find.

Naranjo, a historic village in the Central Valley, has been producing coffee for more than 150 years. There are cafetales (coffee farms) in mountainous towns and regions such as Tarrazú, Tres Ríos, Orosí, Brunca and Turrialba. Each region will claim that their coffee is the best in Costa Rica, but it really all comes down to personal preference. 

By law, virtually all coffee grown in Costa Rica is arabica, meaning it comes from the Coffea arabica plant first found in the Middle East.  

Regardless of where in the country the plants are grown, when coffee berries are ripe, they’re harvested by hand.

The milled beans are bagged and exported. If the coffee is staying in Costa Rica, they’ll be toasted and packaged for sale. And if the beans have been processed as part of your tour, the guide might roast, grind and brew the freshest cup of coffee you’ve ever had. 

A pair of hands hold ruby-red coffee beans above a basket full of coffee beans.
Every region in Costa Rica boasts producing the best coffee in the country © Arnoldophoto / Getty Images

Choosing a Costa Rica coffee tour

Much like a craft brewery tour, you’ll find that most coffee farmers in Costa Rica follow many of the same steps. What matters, then, is what region of Costa Rica you’re visiting and what type of tour interests you. 

Coffee tours in Costa Rica’s Central Valley

The world’s best-known coffee company – Starbucks – runs Hacienda Alsacia, which is located just 30 minutes from the San José airport. In addition to the small-batch coffee they grow, Hacienda Alsacia is also researching climate- and disease-resistant variants. The 1.5-hour tour runs daily from 8am - 4pm with prices starting at US$30 for adults.  

In the nearby city of Heredia (within 20 minutes of the airport) is Café Britt, the best-known brand of gourmet Costa Rican coffee. They’ve offered tours since 1991 and make the coffee found at upscale restaurants and gift shops across the country. Café Britt offers a variety of tours ranging from a 1.5-hour coffee-lovers tour (starting at US$26) to a six-hour coffee and adventure tour ($123). 

Rows of coffee beans dry on a concrete surface in Costa Rica.
Though the process is the same, each coffee tour offers something a little different © Kevin Valverde / Getty Images

Coffee tours in Monteverde/La Fortuna 

Nestled in the mountain town of Monteverde, Don Juan offers a three-in-one tour that focuses on coffee but also highlights chocolate’s indigenous history and sugarcane production. Tours run daily at 8am, 10am, 1pm and 3pm and are fully accessible.   

Across Lake Arenal, in La Fortuna, North Fields Cafe provides a similar experience in the shadow of Arenal Volcano. Daily tours run from 8am-4pm. 

Coffee tours in Guanacaste

Guanacaste’s climate is better-suited for sugarcane, but the Tío Leo Coffee Tour — minutes away from Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport — is a worthy stop on your way to (or from) the Nicoya Peninsula’s beautiful beaches. Morning tours run daily from 8am -11. Tickets are $25 per person.  

Few activities will combine as much history and culture — not to mention flavor — into a single, quintessentially Costa Rican experience.

You might also like: Peaceful escapes in Costa Rica

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Large groups of people sit at a collection of tables while others stand by outdoor stalls on a paved brick lane. There are tall, leafy trees framing the photo.


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