Today also included a tour of a Costa Rican farm. The harvest coffee and sugar, and are recently including cocoa. Their cocoa production is new, so they are getting the fruits elsewhere and harvesting them on their farm, with plans to expand production once they have their own trees.
It was interesting to learn that coffee beans are not brown when they come off the vine. The fruit is red when ripe, but the seeds are white. We learned about the processes the beans go through to become coffee. We also tasted sugar cane. I remember a neighbor (Kent Foster) we had when I was a child having sugar cane and tasting it years ago. We saw the old fashioned way the juices were extracted from the cane—oxen walking round and round, and we also saw the more modern way that the oxen prefer. We made candy from the sugary, molasses like syrup. Finally, we saw a glimpse of the process it takes to make chocolate. It makes me appreciate that chocolate I love so much that much more.
The cacao fruit is larger than I realized. Once you cut it open, you see the moist seeds. We got to try them—the slime made me gag and I spit it out. The next step is the drying. We peeled the shells off and ate the cocoa nibs. I like dark chocolate, so this tasted good to me--the flavors are very bitter, but you can taste that hint of cocoa. Next, we saw the process that grinds the dried cocoa beans. Because of the fat content of the cacao bean, this makes a pasty yet gritty creamy substance. Yes, I liked this too. Finally, we ground that with some sugar. This was the best flavored. Cocoa butter, cocoa, and sugar—what could be bad about that?
Coffee Beans drying out
Coffee Processing Equipment
Cacao Beans fermenting
These are gross at this stage-cacao beans.
Cacao beans drying
Cacao powder ground with some sugar
Sugar syrup from the cane juice