In high school I was a barista, a job with the questionable perk of unlimited free coffee. By the time I started university I’d become a caffeine teetotaler, no longer able to bear the smell. Now, years later, I’m peering at a tiny white flower in Concepción de San Isidro de Heredia, a hillside hamlet about half hour outside of San José. Phil Baker, an American hobbyist farmer and my Airbnb host, shows me around the verdant slopes lined with coffee plants.
His Coffee Garden Meditation Center and Bird Sanctuary is a tiny farm that produces 1,200 pounds of coffee yearly—a miniscule figure in the world of mega producers. His eight-acre farm pales in comparison to the 600-acre property that Starbucks snapped up in the country last month.
Phil tells me, almost apologetically, that it’s such a shame that I arrived after the harvest. Gone are the red fruits that bask in the sun and transform into aromatic beans in rosters. The leafy plants are sprouting emerald buds and miniscule petals. Suddenly I crave a hot mug of joe. This feels like the right place to break my decade-long prohibition.