The Monteverde Cheese Factory is important not only to Monteverde’s history, but also to Costa Rica’s history. It is famous for making the very first pasteurized cheese in Costa Rica. Despite this lofty claim, the MCF has humble beginnings.
Opened in 1953, by a group of American Quakers who had arrived to the local area recently, the factory started to produce about 10 kg of cheese per day. With time, the demand for their high quality cheese forced the Quakers to start buying milk from nearby farms to keep up with the orders that were coming in. This was an important step in this rural economy, as it helped generate a living for many of the farmers and families living in the central highlands of Costa Rica.
Today, the MCF works with over 250 farms and has over 300 employees. It produces about 1,550 kg of cheese on a daily basis! Along with playing an important role in the local economy, the Monteverde Cheese Factory is a role model for sustainable business.
One of the key beliefs of the Quaker community is environmental responsibility. The factory boasts a state of the art water treatment facility and waste management system which involves extracting the whey by-product and donating it to the local pig farm to be used as food.
The first cheese produced by the Monteverde Cheese Factory was in fact a Gouda. Today, their products extend to 17 different types of cheeses. Tour participants can try several varieties of cheese – including Gouda, Swiss, Provolone, Cheddar and Parmesan. Don’t miss the chance to sample Monte Rico, a Monteverde original.
The MCF also offers a variety of ice cream flavors, all made of local ingredients. Visitors sample ice cream flavors like, chocolate, vanilla, lime, macadamia, soursop, coffee, coconut, strawberry, mint chocolate and much more.
Monteverde Cheese Factory sells their cheese and ice cream products all over Costa Rica, and even exports their products to other Central American countries. These products are also on sale in the gift shop, along with cured meats, candies and milkshakes.
The factory offers visitors a bilingual tour which illustrates the intricacies of dairy farming, the cheese making process and the history of the Quakers in Costa Rica. The tour ends with a sampling of delicious cheeses and ice cream.
Tours are available daily at 9:00 am and 2:00 except on Sundays. The duration of the tour is about 1:30 hours. Reservations are required.
Bonus! If you become hooked to the cheese during the tour, the Monteverde Cheese Factory has an outlet in the town of Santa Elena with all of their exquisite products.