Starbucks is opening its Costa Rican coffee farm to the public. Here's what visitors will see



Starbucks is opening its Costa Rican coffee farm to the public. Here's what visitors will see


Starbucks is opening up the doors of one its coffee farms to give the public a chance to see how it sources its beans.

About 45 minutes from the Costa Rican capital of San Jose sits a nearly 600-acre coffee farm called Hacienda Alsacia. Starbucks purchased it in 2013, and has used it as a global research and development facility.

The coffee giant tests disease-resistant trees and soil management techniques at the farm, while gaining an understanding of the challenges that coffee farmers face when producing the crop.

For those unable to take the trip, here's a peek:

  • Hacienda Alsacia

    In March 2017, the company said it planned to develop a visitor center at Hacienda Alsacia. On Wednesday, Starbucks said it would finally open the 46,000-square-foot center to the public.

    For $25, coffee lovers can take a 90-minute guided tour, which includes coffee tastings, parking and a Starbucks bandana.

  • That's a lot of land

    The expansive coffee farm is a whopping 240 hectares, or about 600 acres. It was purchased by Starbucks so that the company could learn more about how to deal with rising production costs, weather changes and diseases like coffee rust, a fungus that can destroy an entire coffee crop.

    About 97 percent of the world's specialty coffee farms own less than 12 hectares of land, or about 30 acres, and have limited resources, according to Starbucks.

    Hacienda Alsacia gives Starbucks a chance to create best practices for growing coffee and share that knowledge. CEO Kevin Johnson said that this is in the company's best interest because it needs to ensure the future supply of quality coffee.

  • It starts in the field

    When Starbucks first purchased the farm in Costa Rica, it was in bad shape. While the brand had the funds to revitalize the land, it chose not to.

    Instead, it hired Victor Trejos to manage the farm and renovate it with the same approach to investment and planning that a traditional farmer would be able to do.

    "I can show them how we have been doing things," Trejos said in a statement last year. "How we have been planting, how we fertilize, soil tests … And how they can do the same."

  • A look at the seeds

    Hacienda Alsacia is home to a number of agronomists, specialists that research the best ways to produce and use plants.

    At the farm, Starbucks researches and develops hybrid trees that are bred to be resistant to diseases like the coffee rust fungus. The company grows tree seedlings on location that it can donate to farms that have had their harvests ruined by pests or diseases.

    Starbucks has already donated 30 million rust-resistant coffee trees and plans to distribute 100 million by 2025.

  • Touring the farm

    Those that visit Hacienda Alsacia will get a chance to see how Starbucks sources its coffee from the seed all the way to the cup.

    "This visitor center allows us to create a connection between the people that grow the coffee, the role our farm plays in helping to ensure their economic stability, and the stores that roast and brew it for our customers every day," said Cliff Burrows, group president of Siren Retail at Starbucks, when plans for the visitor center were first announced.

  • Nursery to cafe

    The 90-minute tour includes a look at greenhouse nurseries, coffee fields, the wet mill, the drying patio and ends at a Starbucks cafe.

    The Hacienda Alsacia is an extension of Starbucks' premium retail experiences, like its Roasteries and Reserve Bars. Executive Chairman Howard Schultz stepped down from his post as CEO of Starbucks to focus on creating destinations for coffee consumers.

  • Sipping time

    At the cafe, visitors can sip the coffee they have been learning about all day, and take in views of the farm.