The Americas travel blog

Coffee tour

Today we have a coffee tour starting at 8.30. Breakfast is on the same balcony that we ate at last night and the view does not disappoint today. It's stunning. Our coffee tour starts at the resort, as part of their business is to grow coffee. The name of the company is Kotowa and it was started in 1917 and has been in the same family ever since. We walk down over a suspension bridge to see the coffee plants growing. Here our guide explains about the different arabica coffee plants, particularly Caturra and Catuai which are grown here. We see the small white flower on the coffee plants which is both male and female and then the seed pod that eventually forms and ripens over 10 months. If coffee seeds drop to the ground they germinate quite quickly and develop into a small plant with the seed head still attached. Then when that seed pod falls, leaves begin to form and it becomes a more mature plant. Our guide puts the flower, seeds etc, to the more mature plant, in the palm of his hand to indicate the natural progression. We then return to the resort to learn about the processing of the coffee berry once it has been hand picked. Either the seeds or the whole berry is washed depending on the variety of coffee. Then they are either sun dried, for a better result or dried in special machines. The coffee is not roasted but exported as is. Brazil, followed by Vietnam is the biggest producer of coffee. Iceland is the biggest consumer of coffee because of long period of darkness there. In the middle of the room is a table set up with 7 varieties of coffee with light to dark roasting. These beans are all ground as we watch and we smell each one to see the difference. Some have a quite strong aroma, others not much at all. Then water is added and we have to use a spoon the scrape away the oil that forms on the top and we again smell the aroma of the beans. This is a different aroma to the whole beans. Finally we get to taste the coffee, black of course. Its amazing how different they are and we did not necessarily like the the taste of the coffee, that we liked the aroma of. A very interesting tour that was very well presented.

We try and pay the bill at the resort but they can't find our bill from the restaurant last night so they don't charge us. A bit of a bonus! At 11.15 we have to leave Boquete to drive to Almirante Port to catch a boat to the Bocas del Toro group of islands in the Caribbean Sea. Bocas del Toro translates as 'mouths of the bull' as these islands on a map look like a bull with its mouth open. It's a 3 hour drive and we stop for a picnic lunch (we bought supplies in Boquete, rolls ham and cheese) at a dam. We board a small boat for the 30 minute journey across to Isla Colon where we are staying for the next 2 nights. From the boat it is a short walk with suitcases in tow to our Hotel. The town has many nice restaurants and bars and has a surfer/beachy vibe. Nice and casual but with all the amenities. Phil and I head out to a waterside bar for a G & T and beer. It has a very pleasant view overlooking the archipelago and the warm caribbean waters. We meet the others for dinner at Buena Vista restaurant, again overlooking the water, and enjoy a great meal, Phil ginger and lime prawns and myself prawns too, but in a coconut curry. Yum!!

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