Best Pizza and Monkey Watching in Town

So I’m back from Costa Rica, catching my breath after what was one of the most jam-packed source trips I’ve ever been on. As I said in earlier posts, this trip was the grand prize to the Nordic Barista Cup winning team, which hailed from Denmark. Along with the four team members—Morten, Samuli, Karen, and Ea—a few others were along for the ride, including Simon from Kontra, Thomas of Sigfreds Kaffebar, Heili from Estonia, and yours truly, as well as NBC organizers, Jens and Bjorg. Our incredible, amazing, generous hosts rounded out the perfectly sized group: Flori, Stephen and Leah from Mercanta, and Francois from Cafe Noble.

As I mentioned in my last post, the last 2 days of the organized trip took place at the beach—everyone was ready for some R&R. The beach time was over too soon, however, and all of a sudden, it was time to bid farewell to the group. You see, Paula, Bjorg and I had planned to take a few extra days at another beach south of Puenta Leona, just us girls for a little bit, with a day in San Jose before Bjorg and I were to depart. So we sadly said goodbye to the group, and Paula, Bjorg and I piled into Paula’s car and set out for Costa Rica’s famous national park and beach area, Manuel Antonio.

Critters to watch out for when crossing the beachside paths around Manuel Antonio.

After stopping for lunch at a surfer cafe that was right on the beach—I mean, we almost got wet from the waves, it was so close to the water—we arrived happily in Manuel Antonio to our little hotel, which was perfect in every way: the three of us girls shared a casita that was nestled into jungle trees, with the view of the beautiful swimming pool tempting us from our balcony every time we turned around.

The most awesome pool ever... because it comes with monkeys!

I happened to see an ad for our hotel in the local newspaper, and it had the slogan, “Best Pizza and Monkey Watching in Town.” After eating the pizza, and after lounging around the pool watching countless monkeys scamper from tree to tree, I understood completely, and agreed. It really was something.

I wanted to fill my pockets with monkeys. Seriously, so freakin cute.

Too soon, the three ladies were headed back to San Jose. Paula had graciously invited me and Bjorg to crash at her lovely house for the evening. Bjorg was set to fly to Bogota for more coffee explorations on Tuesday morning, and I was st to fly back to Portland around the same time.

But first, we were in for a real treat: Paula had called up some barista friends in San Jose and invited them to meet us for drinks after dinner. This was so much fun—and it was also really familiar. As I sat at a long table with a bunch of new barista friends, listening to them tease each other, crack jokes, argue espresso techniques, and dare each other to enter the upcoming Costa Rica Barista Championship, I was struck that the situation was similar to so many I have been lucky enough to be included in over the years: it was the same situation I had been in in Kigali, Rwanda, following that country’s first barista championship, when about 20 of us crowded around a round table at the gala dinner, John Sanders presiding, and had a crazy, memorable night. It was just like being in Copenhagen drinking beers at Europa with a mish mash of baristas. And of course, it was exactly like what I do almost every week, which is gather with my barista pals here in Portland for beers and trashtalk. It’s part of what makes this community so special.

The San Jose Barista Posse. Photo by Paula.

So thank you, my new friends in Costa Rica, and thank you to Bjorg and especially our host, Paula. What a tremendous way to cap off what was already an incredible trip.

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.