Updated: Oct 11, 2019
Sitting here in my kitchen, sipping some Alchemy cold brew at 5 in the afternoon, I'm reminiscing on my recent solo trip to my favorite country.
On the last leg of my tour de Costa Rica I called an Uber in pursuit of a coffee shop called Cafeoteca that I'd read about in an article titled '5 Must-Visit Specialty Coffee Shops in San Jose, Costa Rica'. Navigating the nameless streets of this colorful Central American country is not as easy as plugging in an address and letting GPS do the work, Far, far from it, my friend. I'm not joking when I say that Costa Ricans don't even know where they hell they're going in their own city! Places are found by proximity to other places. It's common to see an 'address' listed as "50 metros sur del Banco Nacional y 100 metros oste del supermercado". (50 meters south of Banco Nacional and 100 meters west of the supermarket). Getting to your destination requires patience (pura vida!), asking passersby if they know where _____ is, and sometimes calling a friend for assistance. Deep breath, you'll get there eventually.
I have been to Costa Rica three times now, spending a total of about 3 months there, so luckily I knew what to expect when trying to get somewhere. My 12 mile Uber ride took just over an hour, but hey, we made it! I walked up to the cafe door, ready for some cafe costarricense rico. Instead I was met by one of the staff letting me know that they were closed for the next couple of hours for a staff meeting. No problem, I thought. I'll just explore this area for a while and come back later.
Cafeoteca is located in the Barrio Escalante, one of the nicest neighborhoods in San Jose. Tico neighborhoods are usually a mix of residences, shops, schools, grocery stores, you name it. There is no clear cut distinction between residential and commercial areas like there are in most US cities, so that adds to the interest of getting around. I absolutely love the charm of Costa Rica and its lack of rules, but nonetheless, it takes some getting used to. With a deep breath and a mental note of Cafeoteca's location, I headed out to explore the area.
I stopped at another cafe and had some lunch, then walked around the neighborhood, took some photos, and tried not to get too lost. Eventually, I headed back, ready for some coffee.
Coffee is one of Costa Rica's main exports and a major part of their economy. Ticos put their money where their mouth is, literally. They love their coffee, they like it strong, and they drink it often. It's even common for kids to drink coffee - usually with a healthy amount of milk. There are tons of coffee farms, distributors, and shops all over the country, but my favorite are the small scale business for their quality and business ethics. Plus, generally speaking I always prefer to support small/local when possible.