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Monteverde Cheese Factory

Monteverde Cheese Factory sits atop one of Monteverde’s many hills. The building recalls times past, when humans fetched water from wells and milked cows by hand.

Quakers from Alabama founded the factory in 1953, and it was the first major business in Monteverde. The factory is now owned by Mexican corporation Sigma, but it remains one of the region’s largest employers.

In addition to producing cheeses such as baby Swiss, cheddar and gouda, the factory makes other goods like sour cream and cream cheese, and it even touts pork products like bacon and sausage.

The factory’s ice cream, however, is famed throughout the country.

Upon recommendation from Alsonso Badilla Álvarez, who has worked at Monteverde Cheese Factory for seven years, I selected a scoop of the mint chocolate ice cream, even though it was 10:00 a.m. Everyone should eat ice cream for breakfast at least once while on traveling, right?

The ice cream was not too sweet and tasted buttery. I noticed this in all the Costa Rican dairy products I ate. This is probably because Monteverde Cheese Factory, as well as other Costa Rican dairy producers, prioritize buying milk from small farms (although this is often a claim businesses make and do not actually abide by).

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The ice cream did have some ice crystals in it, but that is to be expected when ordering from a corporate-owned ice cream counter. Often ice cream from these places must rest in freezers for months before workers are allowed to start scooping.

Monteverde Cheese Factory also offers inventive ice cream flavors: soursop, rum raisin and passion fruit. However, flavors such as chocolate or coffee are available for the less adventurous.

Although the factory no longer gives tours, visitors can still watch cheese production from a big, fingerprint-smeared window. For those interested in factory food production and ice cream flavor-tasting, Monteverde Cheese Factory is worth a visit.

-Mary Clay Kline