There’s no doubt that the faculty and staff at Alverno Heights Academy are a group of compassionate, intelligent, committed, and creative individuals. Every day they come to work and dedicate themselves to our mission of empowering each young woman to be exactly the person she wants to be. While they do their jobs with the utmost professionalism and dedication, they do like to have a little fun and share a little more of their personalities with our students and our community as a whole. We hope you enjoy a new series of blogs about some of these fun personalities and their own stories!
Costa Rican Coffee- The BEST Coffee In The World
A blog by Ms. Suzy Ares ’93 & P’17, Science Department Chair and Frequent Costa Rican Tourist
While we strive to find a new and exciting destination to place on our travel list, there is one location in the world which feels much more than just a country to add to our list. In this country you don’t just visit, in fact you experience daily life as a Costa Rican “tico’ or “tica”. The terms “tico” or “tica” means “small”, but this is also used as a term on endearment.
One great hidden treasure that you may find yourself visiting in Costa Rica is their beautiful coffee plantations. Costa Rica is one of the major growers of coffee beans in the world. Coffee was first introduced in the region in 1798, and before long the coffee plant became a critical part of Costa Rica’s agriculture. Because anyone who wished to grow coffee was given both land and plants by the government, coffee soon overtook cacao and tobacco as the country’s leading product. Costa Rica’s terrain was ideal for growing coffee, particularly in the Central Valley, because its rich volcanic soil lent beans a strong and unique flavor.
Thanks to the money that flowed into Costa Rica as a result of the coffee industry, the country was able to develop the ports, roads and infrastructure that have helped to sustain its economy even through the present.
Nowadays, coffee is still one of Costa Rica’s most important agricultural products. The government has mandated that all coffee grown in the country is of the Arabica variety, which produces a bean that makes a sweeter, smoother drink when brewed. In particular, Costa Rican coffee is known for its balanced flavor profile, which features notes of citrus and berry as well as hints of roasted chocolate.
The coffee roasting process begins with small test batches. Roasters experiment with different temperatures, times, and quantities to find the perfect roast. As they roast, the sugar in the beans caramelizes, the caffeine oil heats up and expands the beans; giving each batch a different flavor. Once they select the best tasting batch, the technicians roast with the optimal conditions a larger batch to sell. The coffee harvest season, which lasts from October through May, attracts tourists from all over the world as tourists may be allowed to pick coffee beans themselves.
Next time you travel to Costa Rica be sure to take a tour of a coffee plantation. It is a great way to learn about the history and production of this important beverage. As you walk through the fields, guides will explain how coffee is grown and harvested. You’ll learn about the de-pulping, drying, and roasting process, and will often be given a fresh cup of coffee at the end. It’s a fun and informative experience that you may never forget. Pura vida!
Ms. Suzy Ares ’93 & P’17 is the Science Department Chair and Director of the Alverno Summer Institute at Alverno Heights Academy. This is her 10th year at Alverno Heights Academy. She holds a Master’s degree in Education from Loyola Marymount University and a Master’s degree in Forensic Science from California State University Los Angeles. She currently teaches Biology, Forensic Science, AP Chemistry, and Healthy Living. Last year, Ms. Ares was a part of a special trip to Costa Rica that allowed her to study sea turtles and their migratory and gestational patterns. In the last few years, Ms. Ares has led several school sponsored trips to Costa Rica with a new tour leaving in July 2017.