El Trapiche is a company owned by a Costa Rican family who has been in the business for decades but the idea of guided tours was born in 2005. The idea was to show visitors a representative part of Costa Rican culture and heritage - where they can appreciate the process of making sugarcane into sugar as well as fresh coffee cultivation, in a fun but educational setting.
Though it is not grown on the property because the climate is not ideal, there is also a step by step demonstration of how the cacao seed is turned into our beloved chocolate. Chocolate, coffee and sugar cane… what else could we want in a tour!
During a walk around the farm you can find a variety of plantations including bananas, plantains, arracache (local celery-like vegetable), coffee, macadamia and of course, sugar cane. Our guide walked us through the coffee process in their production barn - from the peeling to sorting and finishing with the roasting of the coffee beans.
The next portion of the tour is dedicated to my personal favorite… chocolate! Although the region itself is not ideal for the growth of cacao, we walked through the different steps of cultivation and production. First the beans needs to be dried, then roasted and peeled before they can be ground and used in delicious chocolate recipes.
We were given samples at each stage so we could taste the different flavors the cacao offers at different stages of production. I surprisingly preferred the chocolate before the sugar and milk were added - it had a spicy bitterness that I reminded me of Mexican-style hot chocolate!
The last phase of the tour was the sugarcane production - while in the past the sugarcane was crushed manually or by an ox-powered mill, it is now done by a water-powered mill. The tour finishes where the artesanal sugarcane ‘tapa dulce’ is made, the traditional costa rican brown sugar, ‘perica’ and the fudge-like caramel, ‘sobado’.
You get a hands-on demonstration and get to take home samples before ending the tour with coffee samples and a snack. This tour is very well-organized and presented in a fun way by the El Trapiche company.
I never knew there was so much involved in the processes for 3 products we all use on an almost daily basis! I know I’ll be appreciating my morning cup of coffee and sweet treats much more after learning what an art form it can be to produce it!