After playing soccer we headed back to Bird of Paradise to decide on our last activity before dinner. It had already been a pretty full day so we opted for a coffee tour. Without going into all of the details, we managed to catch the end of the chocolate tour at El Quetzal - the best part as it turned out - with samples of fresh cocoa that was being made into chocolate products. Have you ever tasted 100% cocoa? Not good. But just add some sugar and you can't get enough of it. Our host Joe also let us try some chili chocolate...yep, it is just what it sounds like. I wouldn't rush out to buy any, but it certainly wasn't the worst thing I've eaten.
It turns out the coffee farmer wasn't available so Joe gave us a mini lecture on coffee production and the elements to making a good cup of coffee. I can't remember if I've mentioned it earlier, but I've been drinking a lot of black coffee down here which is something I would never do at home. According to Joe it has a lot to do with the freshness of the coffee, the roasting method, and the water used. A few tips for you coffee lovers...
1. Never buy ground coffee, only beans that are properly sealed.
2. Only grind enough coffee for what you are going to consume right away.
3. Storing ground coffee in the freezer is a waste of time.
4. If you can find unroasted beans in your area, buy them then roast them yourself either in a home roaster or even in a cast-iron frying pan (look up how to do it online first!)
5. Use fresh, reverse-osmosis filtered water for brewing to remove all impurities.
After the lecture, Joe took a couple of us to see his garden where he had not only coffee trees but also papaya and banana trees. Joe has an interesting story - he was born in Ecuador but has lived in the U.S. for decades. He spends 6 months in Michigan and 6 months in Ecuador every year and hopes to move back someday. Having visited the Mindo area where he lives I understand him wanting to live there permanently.
After the tour we met back on the main street in Mindo and bumped into William and his sister Gisella. It was so good to get to know them a bit outside of the context of tourist recommendations - both of them were just great people. Autumn handed out stickers to Gisella's daughter and a couple of other kids who were still out. It was fun watching them smile and laugh from such a simple gift!
William then suggested we go to CasKaffeSu for dinner, a little hostal/restaurant just up one of the side streets. We had a great dinner, met some interesting people who were staying there, and talked to Sue the owner for a bit. At only $15/night (including breakfast) you can't go wrong.
After dinner it was back to Sachamatia for another quick soak in the hot tub then to sleep after another amazing day.
For complete photos from the journey click here.