by PAUL MASSARD, BEAN HUNTER
The next morning we all (except for Danny) woke at 6 and decided we would go on a quick hike to a near-by waterfall. After we got lost three times, we finally found the correct trail and were on our way. The hike was a lot scarier than any of us predicted; one misstep and we could fall a few hundred feet down to the river. After some cautious, harrowing footing we reached a metal ladder ― quite possibly the scariest part of the hike. It was a good 60 feet straight down on this rickety ladder. But once we made it down, it was just a few more minutes of hiking and we were at the waterfall. The trip was definitely worth it. Looking up at this 200-foot waterfall from the bottom of the ravine was 100-percent worth almost dying a few times on the path. After we spent a good 30 minutes just taking it all in, and really just trying to catch our breath we took off back toward the hotel. Almost. The altitude really got to us, and we all had to stop halfway back for a little breather.
Paul and Zach survived the hike... barely
Soon after our return (and recovery) we were off to visit our first farm, the beautiful Finca Santa Elena, probably the largest farm and mill we visited on our trip. The farm has 92 Hectors but grows sugar cane. After taking a tour of the very clean processing plant, (I have to say, I was very impressed by the care that all of these farmers and millers take with the cleanliness of their facilities) we were taken out to the fields and shown the different varietals, as well as how we can easily identify them. During the walk, we also talked about how the farm became Rain Forest Certified and the challenges that they face to keep those certifications. Once back at the farm house, we had some coffee and pastries while we talked more about the coffee and how it's growing.
After a great visit, we were on our way to the second stop of the day, the farm of the Aguilera brothers. I had spent some time on this farm the previous year, helping them out... and really just trying to stay out of their way as I immersed myself in coffee processing. The farm is run by 12 brothers who all work together, and each own the same percentage of the farm; it's a great family operation. Like other farmers we'd talked to, the rains really affected the Aguilera brothers' coffee in terms of quantity, but really helped the coffee in terms of quality ― which makes us really excited!
Stay tuned for the fourth and final installment of our 2011 trip to Costa Rica...