I found it! I didn't find the only one, but here is what I mean. Yesterday our hotel manager and friendly guide to Puntarenas took me to find some gifts for my daughter and her boyfriend. We went to a warehouse store called Almacen El Quince, and I got two Campesino hats, which are worn by everyone in Costa Rica now and then, either to work in the sun or to wear informally around town. After that we went to two very special and historical stores in Puntarenas: the oldest market and the oldest dry-goods store.
The market is called Verduria de Mercados and there is where I found it: ground coffee straight from the plantation. It is deep and dark naturally--not roasted dark--and the grind is almost as fine as cocoa (which is also a bean). At first I wondered if it would go right through the paper filter in the coffee machine, honestly. By the way, you can get the charming Senor Cafe down here in Latin America, in a creamer that comes either in sturdy plastic bags or single packets. Since I like my coffee with cream and sugar normally (or specifically, non-dairy creamer and stevia), I am sipping a cup of this super-coffee black while I write this.
This coffee is much fresher than any I have tasted before; it has all kinds of "top notes" that hit you before the actual coffee flavor. I can only conclude that these little extra hits on your taste buds fade once the coffee is picked and ground up. I wish I could have found whole-bean coffee from this source, but I could not. The vast majority of coffee you find in the stores in Puntarenas has been ground to a very fine texture, suitable only for filtered drip coffee makers, and then only for paper filters.
This is what the package label says; it is a plain silver-foil envelope with nothing more than a small tag that has been pasted on.
Cafe Cerro Real
Grano Costarricense 100% puro
Concepcion de San Rafael, Heredia
Tel: 2262-0353/Fax: 2261-0940
Peso: (x) 250 gr ( ) 500 gr
Cerro Real Coffee (this may refer to a variety)
100 % pure Costa Rican beans
Concepcion de San Rafael (plantation), Heredia (location)
Telephone and Fax numbers
Weight, checked in the 250 grams box
This is why I say that I didn't find the only pure coffee gold down here; this plantation in Heredia is one among many coffee farms in Costa Rica. According to my husband, coffee from Brazil and Costa Rica are considered the best in the world, although you will get an argument from Jamaica and Africa about that (among others). It may have to do with the roasting style that is preferred in Latin America; coffee from Africa, which I am familiar with, has stronger and more diverse flavors like overtones of berries and herbs. I am not going to settle the argument, though. I just discovered some coffee gold here in Puntarenas.
I really, truly have never tasted coffee like this in my life. I used to order high-end coffee from various companies of good reputation, such as Gevalia, which I still recommend. And you can get some very responsibly-sourced coffee from Starbucks and the Costco stores, one of which is very near my home in Tucson. But this coffee, fresh ground from the plantation, was a whole new coffee experience. I am so glad I picked up that package.
To find coffee such as this, you need to go to the old part of town wherever you are in Latin America, and look for their oldest markets. There you have to find the coffee, which in most cases will be limited to two or three selections. Look for the one in the plain packaging that says something to the effect of the above label (and it will be in Spanish). You are home free in the land of perfect coffee as soon as you find it. And if that isn't enough to get you excited, what I paid for the 250 grams was just 1000 colones, or two dollars for what is roughly half a pound of this exceptionally-fine ground coffee. You can't do better than this anywhere in the world.