If you’re a coffee lover and looking for a unique experience in Costa Rica, then planning a visit to Hacienda Alsacia should definitely be on your list.
Owned by Starbucks, this coffee farm is located in the picturesque mountains of Costa Rica’s Central Valley.
Here you will get to taste some of the best coffee in the world, explore the lush green coffee fields, meet the farmers, and discover the rich history and culture of coffee production in Costa Rica.
We created this blog post to guide you through the planning process to ensure that you have the best possible experience at Hacienda Alsacia.
Background on Hacienda Alsacia
Hacienda Alsacia is a coffee farm located north of the town of Alajuela in the Tarrazú region of Costa Rica.
The farm is owned by Starbucks and was purchased in 2013 as a research and development center for the company’s coffee-growing operations.
It is located in a prime coffee-growing region, known for its rich volcanic soil, high altitudes, and ideal weather conditions for growing high-quality Arabica coffee.
Since its purchase, Starbucks has used Hacienda Alsacia as a testing ground for new farming techniques, processing methods, and coffee varieties.
In addition to its research and development efforts, Hacienda Alsacia also produces coffee for Starbucks’ Reserve brand, which features high-end, small-batch coffees from around the world.
Starbucks has stated that its long-term goal is to use Hacienda Alsacia as a model for sustainable coffee farming practices, and to share its learnings with coffee farmers around the world.
In recent years, it is now possible to visit Hacienda Alsacia for a tour or to enjoy their open air concept Starbucks shop.
Hacienda Alsacia is located only about one hour away from the San Jose International Airport. It is located above the town of Alajuela on the way to Poas Volcano.
If you are coming from the San Jose Airport area, the drive through downtown Alajuela can be a bit intense. There are a lot of T crossings and people do not always obey the stop signs. So, use caution.
Once you get through the city you will take a paved road up through hilly small villages until you reach the Hacienda Alsacia Coffee farm.
I think the drive is really nice. There are some good views of the Central Valley, but unfortunately, there aren’t many spots that are easy to pull off for pictures.
See Hacienda Alsacia on Google Maps
There are guards watching the cars in the parking lot, but it is still best not to leave anything of value in your car.
Also, you may be asked to back into your parking space. This is kind of a go-to for this area because it is so close to Poas Volcano, which is active. The idea is that you need to be able to drive out quickly on the very slim chance that the volcano starts erupting.
The visitors center with Starbucks is open from 8am until 6pm every day of the week.
What to Bring and Wear
It can be a bit cooler up here, so I suggest bringing layers. This past time, I wore pants and a tank top, but brought a long sleeve shirt which I ended up putting on.
Thomas wore shorts and a long sleeve shirt.
In the rainy season, definitely bring your rain jacket.
I suggest wearing closed- toed shoes if you plan on doing the tour because you may be walking through some fields.
The Coffee Farm Tour
If you are interested in learning all about coffee production from growing the beans to drinking it, we suggest taking the Hacienda Alsacia coffee tour.
This tour last about 1.5 hours and is usually offered four times a day in English and four times a day in Spanish.
⤷You can pre-book your Hacienda Alsacia tour tickets here.
The tour begins with a walk through the coffee fields, where you can see the coffee plants up close and learn about the different varieties of Arabica coffee that are grown on the farm.
I think this part is really interesting because most of us know coffee as a dried bean. It is fascinating to learn about the planting and picking process and to see coffee as a fruit.
Sometimes you may also have the opportunity to participate in the coffee-picking process, depending on the time of year. When we visited it wasn’t coffee picking time yet, so that wasn’t possible.
After the field visit, you will go to the processing facility, where they can see how the coffee beans are washed, dried, and sorted. You’ll get a chance to taste the freshly roasted coffee and learn about the various flavor profiles of the different coffee varieties grown on the farm.
The tour also includes a visit to the Hacienda Alsacia Visitor Center, which features exhibits on the history of coffee and the role of sustainability in coffee farming.
We have done a few different coffee tours in Costa Rica, and I’ve got to admit, this one was really good. There is a heavy focus on sustainability, so expect to learn a lot about that.
All the guides spoke English very well and had a lot of knowledge.
Overall, I definitely recommend it.
Eating and Drinking
If you opt not to take a coffee tour, we still suggest stopping here on your way to Poas Volcano or La Paz Waterfall Gardens.
The property has a really nice open-air Starbucks with unusual drink options.
Here are the drink choices:
They also serve food. There is a selection of pastries and cakes. You can also opt for a breakfast sandwich or a traditional Costa Rican breakfast with Gallo Pinto and eggs.
The last time we were there we opted to sit under the covered area with a view of the waterfall. But, if it is very full there are also lots of other tables outside.
Other Things to Note
– There is free WIFI in the cafe area.
– I found the food and drinks to be a bit expensive for what it is. But, I guess that is typical Starbucks.
– It is nice to experience this coffee farm, but we encourage you to buy local coffee when possible. There are tons of great Costa Rican coffee companies, so please support them if you can.
We aren’t really huge Starbucks supporters and usually opt to support small local roasters in Costa Rica. However, this place is really cool.
We almost always stop here if driving by because I just enjoy the unique drink options and the views.
Plus, it just feels very North American, and sometimes I just need a little feeling of home.
If you would like to support local coffee growers instead, we suggest checking out a tour at Britt or Doka. Doka is located very close to Hacienda Alsacia, but the road to get there is a bit more of an adventure (but still doable).
What to Do After
We think this area is so beautiful and definitely worth exploring more in-depth. Check out our visitor’s guide to Alajuela for more info on the restaurants, places to stay in the area, the best time to visit, and more.
Here are a few of our favorite things to do….
Go to Poas Volcano
I feel like you need to visit Poas Volcano if you are in this area. It’s a really interesting experience to stand at the mouth of an active volcanic crater.
You can find all about how to plan your visit with our Poas Volcano guide.
Visit La Paz Waterfall Gardens
The La Paz Waterfall Gardens is a good place to visit if you would like to see an impressive waterfall and experience some culture and Costa Rica wildlife in a condensed area. We suggest this activity to families.
You can find out more with our La Paz Waterfall Garden guide.
FAQ: Hacienda Alsacia
Is it possible to take a tour at Hacienda Alsacia?
Yes, it is possible to take a tour. The guided tour provides insights into the coffee cultivation process, sustainable farming techniques, and the history of coffee production.
What is the altitude of Hacienda Alsacia?
Hacienda Alsacia is located at an altitude of approximately 1,200 meters (3,937 feet) above sea level. The farm’s altitude contributes to the ideal conditions for coffee cultivation.
Is the Hacienda Alsacia Visitors Center open?
The Starbucks coffee shop is open from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm every day of the week.
Does Starbucks do research and development at Hacienda Alsacia?
Yes, the Starbucks run facility is dedicated to the study and development of sustainable coffee farming practices, as well as the exploration of innovative coffee varieties.
In conclusion, visiting Hacienda Alsacia in Costa Rica offers a unique and educational experience for coffee enthusiasts and those interested in sustainable farming practices. To make the most of your visit we suggest booking your coffee tour ahead of time. And, make sure to try all the interesting treats at the Starbucks.
If you have any questions about planning your trip, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you out!