During a stay at the eco-friendly coffee plantation Finca Rosa Blanca in Costa Rica, guests tour the coffee field to learn about the ecology and science behind the drink from super-knowledgeable guides. The two-hour tour ends with a visit to the roasting house and a catación (cupping session).
If you really want to get close to the origins of your coffee, plan a visit to Ka'u Coffee Mill in Pahala, Hawaii, at harvest time and you might be able to volunteer as a coffee cherry picker for a few hours. You can also see how the freshly picked coffee is made into "green beans."
At the largest organic coffee farm in Hawaii, Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation in Kailua Kona, random visitors can enjoy a free mill and roastery tour, but die-hards will want the private "tree to cup" tour. Add on a Roast Master for a Day lesson to roast your own batch of Kona coffee.
Only in Italy would a seven-hour, €120 Milk Art course make perfect sense. The Espresso Academy in Florence offers classes such as Discovery, which teaches visitors the secrets of a true cappuccino, Tasting (because, as they explain, "Coffee is a product as noble as wine"), and Coffee Cocktails.
Chicago may not be the first city to come to mind when you think coffee, but Intelligentsia is a revered coffee house with nationwide locations, and they want you to take coffee as seriously as they do. To that end they offer a structured training program at their Chicago roasting facilities. It actually sounds a little like barista boot camp.
Stumptown Roasters, born in Portland, Ore., where they say they began a coffee revolution, has branched out, but travelers to the Northwest can visit their Portland or Seattle houses to see first-hand the art and craft of roasting in vintage, double-walled steel drum roasters. Learn whether their promise is true — that the coffee sings.
More than 40 events over 10 days celebrate coffee in the annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, this year Nov. 2 to 11 in Kailua-Kona. Tastings, a cupping competition, farm tours, and parades are among the festivities at this can't-miss event — seriously, it's paradise for coffee lovers.
Go pro at the annual Specialty Coffee Association of America Event (April 19-22 this year in Portland, Ore.). Coffee enthusiasts of all backgrounds are welcome. Try the "From Seed to Roaster" Lecture, Intro to Cupping workshop, and check out the Barista Championship, Coffee of the Year Competition, and U.S. Cup Tasters Championship.
The most expensive coffee — from one of the most bizarre process — in the world can be found at Wedang Sari Plantation in Bali, Indonesia. A discerning little creature called a Palm Civet eats only the best coffee berries and when they, umm, come out the other end, workers gather, clean, and process them into a several-hundred-dollar-a-pound coffee known as Kopi Luwak, or pea berry coffee. Let us know what you think if you try it! (For more information, email Wedang_sari@yahoo.com)