Trapiche Hermanos Arias near San Ramon is a great free and off-the-beaten-path tour of how sugar cane is turned into brown sugar is sure to be a family delight.
The Trapiche Hermanos Arias has been working in a small district outside of San Ramon called La Paz for over 60 years. This family-run operation turns sugar cane into what is called tapa de dulce. It’s similar to a Mexican piloncillo but with a distinctly Costa Rican flavor.
There are very few trapiches still working in Costa Rica, and this is the only one in the greater South Central Valley of Costa Rica. If you are looking for an extremely typical Costa Rican experience, especially with kids, this is a great free stop. Kids can participate in every step of the tapa de dulce making process, and everything is in Spanish as no English is spoken here.
The tapa de dulce is like a brown sugar block used to make agua dulce (sweet water), agua de sapo (sweetened ginger and lime tea) and a ton of different candies. It’s basically like a block of brown sugar.
To make the tapas de dulce, first, the juice is extracted from the sugar cane.
Next, the juice is sent to boil into the caramel water.
The water is sent to a trough and mixed with a wooden paddle to thicken it.
Some of the thick mixture is put on a wooden table and mixed into a sobado candy that is widely popular throughout Costa Rica, and also very hard to find.
The rest of the mixture is poured into the tapa de dulce olds and left to cool.
Once the molds cool the tapas are removed and packaged for sale.
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Location – Getting There And Away
Put Trapiche Hermanos Arias into your Waze app and then save the directions offline as there is not always cell or wifi signal on the whole route. Once you get to the main road you pretty much follow it for about 30 minutes until you reach a small cafe called Cafeteria Flory and then park next door.
What we always do is visit Cafeteria Flory for breakfast on the way, and Pizza Loca for lunch on the way home. Read more about those two restaurants in our 30 Best San Ramon Restaurants post.
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This trapiche only works on Thursdays each week, and they start before dawn. Once the work is done they shut down, so it’s a good idea to head over before about 2 or 3 pm. The best time to visit is between 9am and noon.
Visiting is completely free and you can expect to spend anywhere between 30 minutes and 3 hours. You will see the whole tapa de dulce making process in order, and have the chance to sample traditional Costa Rican sweets when they are still warm.
There is a small store where you can buy tapas de dulce, and sobado.
You don’t have to reserve, and the experience is completely free.
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What to Bring
It’s cool in the area, so make sure to bring a long sleeve shirt or jacket. It’s muddy around the area too, as rains can be unpredictable. Make sure to wear study shoes.
A water bottle and snacks are not a bad idea.
Please bring cash to tip the brothers and to support their business by purchasing candy and other items.
Related post: Tipping in Costa Rica