Lonely Planet Writer

Travellers can take home a taste of Costa Rica with these sea salt souvenirs

The new souvenir and cold brew spot in San José is Salt Traders, a gourmet sea salt store and coffee shop with a great menu, but also, different kinds of edible souvenirs to take home.

Guava salt with toasts and tomato sauce . Image by Arroyo

Getting into the coffee shop is like going back to the Costa Rica of the 70s. The old house where Salt is located resembles the times when locals used to transport themselves in carts dragged by oxen through the old Costa Rican towns.

Salt Traders in Costa Rica Image by Arroyo

The idea is unusual: Salt Traders is the first location in Costa Rica that makes gourmet sea salt mixes and often supplies top restaurants all around the country. Here, tourists and locals get in line to try their display of gourmet salt mixes which includes lavender, blueberries, chilli and other products like salted caramel and local coffee.

One of the many versions of cold brew that Salt Traders have. Image by Arroyo

Esteban Ulloa, a regular at Salt, recognizes that his favorite things to try are their cold brews, especially the one with salted caramel on the bottom. “I was walking home one day and passed by…I got in and tried their food and brews and fell in love with the place. It’s quiet and great to study or to meet with friends. It really feels like home”, he said.

Salt mix with tree chilli and lemon. Image by Arroyo

The dishes at Salt are topped with their gourmet salt mixes, like a coconut, chocolate and nut bar topped with blueberry salt or their pulled pork sandwich seasoned with local spices. Prices are between US$4 (€3.55) and $10 (€8.86). All the products in Salt Traders are made on site, and once they went on sale, tourists started buying them and taking them home.

One of the owners of the store, Arroyo, says that tourists look for their salt jars as souvenirs and to enjoy one of the many coffee options they have in the cold brew bar. “We really put ourselves into the service, our idea is that people feel at home here. We really want them to try our products and as we create new dishes or ideas, we give them to visitors for free, just to get the feedback so it can be added to our menu later”, he said.

Salt traders have also food festivals and weekend specials that are often announced in their Facebook page like their taco Saturdays, pulled pork weekends and more.