Butterflies and Coffee Package Tour:
A Match Made in Paraíso
The Butterfly Farm and Britt Café:
Finding the ideal match takes a certain knack for knowing complements and a pinch of luck. Perfect
couples are hard to come by but when you find it, that’s when the magic happens. Like peanut butter
and jelly, football and beer, coffee and butterflies – yes, that’s right. Coffee and butterflies might not be
the first thing that pops into your mind but after a day at The Butterfly Farm and Café Britt, you’ll see it's a match made in paraiso.
Start your morning immersed in the extravagance of The Butterfly Farm. The vivid colors, the
metamorphosis – let’s face it, some of the chrysalis’ are breathtaking (like the solid gold metallic ones),
some of the disguises are just plain awesome and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll see a butterfly shedding
its chrysalis or drying its brand new wings. Pulling into the Farm’s entrance, one thing is certain. With
the beautiful gardens and huge variety of plants and foliage, you know you’re in butterfly country. Costa
Rica has more species of butterflies than the US, Mexico and Canada combined. This little country, with
its ideal climate, is the perfect home for butterflies and they thrive in abundance.
Every tour is unique and depends on the weather and what the butterflies are in the mood for. Before
the tour, visitors are welcome to explore the Butterfly Garden on their own. This is the time to bust out
the good camera with a micro/macro option. Some of the butterflies may be camera shy while others
will pose for you all day. For a guaranteed close up, small tables with ripe fruit are scattered around the
garden and you will always find a few butterflies enjoying the nectar.
When the guide arrives, you’ll have already seen the enormous Blue Morph and the legendary Owl-
Eyed butterfly and probably put together how it got its namesake. But look closer – what do you see
when you look at their wing edge upside down? It’s a sure way to ward off predators and butterflies
have more than their fare share. Your guide will introduce you to a multitude of species, some of which
are difficult to spot, like the transparent butterfly that prefers to stay near the shaded pond. This is a
particularly popular nectar stand due to fruits so overly-ripe the butterflies are enjoying their equivalent
of an afternoon cocktail. They’ll be at their happy hour for quite awhile and don’t mind having a few
commemorative photos snapped while they’re at it.
Butterflies are always transforming at the Farm so there’s a chance you’ll be in the line of fire for a
butterfly release. Since these new butterflies don’t quite have a grasp on their flight wings yet, they will
probably attach themselves to the first vertical thing they see – you.
Hungry caterpillars are driven by one thing, their appetite, but still operate on a day/night basis. To
encourage quick transformation, many caterpillars are kept in dark boxes where their only task is eating
in order to morph about two weeks ahead of schedule. Here, you’ll interrupt their 24 hour feeding
(they don’t seem to mind the break to explore some visitor’s palms) and get very up close and personal.
When the caterpillars begin to get ready to form their chrysalis, they’re moved upstairs into an open box
where, side by side with dozens of others, they begin their metamorphosis.
The butterfly tour concludes in the exportation room where crates of chrysalis from surrounding
farms and The Butterfly Farm are examined before being exported globally. In the shop, check out
the butterfly jewelry and cases including butterfly-wing earrings and hand-made boxes with some of
the country’s most beautiful butterflies pressed into glass. All of the pieces are created locally with
butterflies that had naturally completed their life cycle. (See more butterfly pictures at the end of the blog!)
Still aflutter from your morning stroll with the butterflies, you find yourself in the mood for something
a little stronger – maybe something with earthy or chocolate aromas. Just a short ride away is the
famous Britt Café coffee plantation. Nestled in the beautiful province of Heredia, the coffee farm takes a
humorous approach to enlightening every visitor to the passion and expertise that is required for a truly
amazing cup of joe. Whether you’re a “whatever works for a pick-me-up” or a seasoned barista, the
guides at Café Britt will surprise you with a thing or two up their sleeves.
The tour begins in lush gardens complete with a small fairytale-esque wooden bridge. A gazebo shades a
coffee nursery so visitors can take a close look at the first stage of where their favorite cup comes from
and learn about the lore of how coffee came to Costa Rica (No surprise, it’s a love story. With a twist – it
seems he loved the coffee more!). Long before coffee arrived the country already had a favorite drink,
chocolate, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to blend the two. Complimentary coffee and chocolate-covered
coffee beans are plentiful throughout the tour.
A truly sustainable operation, as your guide takes you through the plantation you’ll learn about the
unique and downright quirky ways Café Britt keeps their crops pest-free (spoiler: one techniques
involves getting flying insects drunk on fine rum – at least they go happily). If you’re really lucky, the
coffee plants may be in bloom and the fields will be alive with the smell of gardenias as they’re in the
same flora family. Since they bloom only three days a year, it’s more likely you’ll visit Café Britt when
the “cherries” of the plant are green or a vibrant red. After walking through the fields, your nose will
lead you to the roaster where you can take a look at the day-to-day operation.
In the grand tradition of show-and-tell, or more aptly “It’s more fun to touch than look,” you can really
sink your teeth (although hands are much preferable – they look like peanuts but taste nothing like
them) into unroasted beans that fall into the gourmet rankings all the way down to the “can we really
call this coffee?” category. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow for a great view of the factory.
Moving into the auditorium, you’re treated to a “cupping session” with the lead of quality control (Tip:
make sure you volunteer to be a taster!). Learn how to select a coffee grinder, different methods of
brewing from a simple mesh strainer to the more polished French press, and how to properly taste like
an expert. Be forewarned, the right way to taste coffee is when it’s cold and with a lot of loud slurping.
You can never try enough coffee or chocolate and the tour concludes in the shop and restaurant.
Samples of every coffee, chocolate, nut and sweet are at your disposal as well as a wide array of gifts
and bags of coffee. If you don’t have enough room in your suitcases, don’t worry – Café Britt offers
unbeatable and very affordable shipping straight to your door. However, as tempting as it may be, don’t
fill up on sweets and coffee. Café Britt’s restaurant offers an exceptional lunch buffet including a typical
Tico selection, salad and dessert bar, and an array of entrees to please every palate.
After visiting Café Britt, it’s impossible to sit down with a rich, fresh cup without recalling exactly where
it came from. Maybe you’ll want to suggest a new coffee grinder to your daily barista. It’s likely you’ll
start seeking out coffee from Costa Rica and your friends will sum it to vacation withdrawals (until you
gift them their own bag – then they’ll understand). Just don’t start waiting for your coffee to get cold
and tasting it during your own personal “cupping session” at your favorite coffee shop. Unless there’s a
professional quality coffee controller around, it will be considered at best strange.
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