Day 4 :
Okay I know the bunnies had nothing to do with anything we learned but they were my favorite little moment of the day.
CATIE is a graduate school that focuses on environmental preservation & other subjects within sustainability. The president gave us a quick tour of the campus and then explained how the school works inside and out. It is an international school that runs on its own laws. Students there are from various parts of the world, though there are only around 120 of them. I met a woman from NYC walking to the bathroom who was starting her first day as a Graduate student at CATIE.
Next we went out to the International Cacao collection at CATIE: “a human treasure preserved at perpetuity,” the sign read. They had over 1200 varieties of cacao on their 3 hectares of land, which started in the 1940s. The specialize in researching how to prevent illnesses from the cacao trees and won a prize off of their well kept cacao. Another super interesting thing CATIE does is grow clone plants and produce hybrid trees using cross pollination via neighboring trees. On one tree there were three different cacao fruit; round yellow cacao with purple inside which are not good for making chocolate, crocodile cacao which produces the highest quality of chocolate, & a red cacao fruit. These trees take 7 years to produce cacao fruit from the time it is planted.
Surprisingly our guide who showed us around the plantation doesn’t drink coffee! He drinks agua dulce because sugar cane was introduced in Costa Rica before coffee beans were. Costa Rica, though it is small in size, is the 14th producer of coffee in the world and is ranked #1 in quality. This is because Costa Rica grows coffee using rich volcanic soil, in high elevation, & shade trees which introduce nitrogen into the soil. By law Costa Rica can only grow arabica beans which are the best quality of coffee beans.
The farm Is 100% organic. The soil is always covered with weeds so the sun doesn’t kill the micro organisms which mean no pesticides are used, that way rain doesn’t wash away the good top soil. The biodiversity of the farm also played a huge role in the quality of the coffee trees. Banana trees, for example, provide moisture for the soil while timber trees provide more shade.
The coffee making process was so delicate and included many steps. Beans were collected by farmers, weighed, peeled, stripped of their fruit, dried, sorted, peeled again, sorted again, roasted, and finally ground up and packaged. Before this trip I didn’t know how coffee was grown.
I’m so excited to bring back all this information to my family and share what I’ve learned about foods we eat every day! I’m also so excited about more bananas tomorrow! ?