San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Mighty Rivers Café Offers Mighty Good Treats

If you go to the Mighty Rivers Café in San Antonio de Belén, northwest of San José, every day to try a different combination of ice cream, it would take one year and four months, and every day would be different and delicious. Naturally! There are no artificial flavors or savers in their ice cream, or in their yogurt, pastries, chocolates, granola, peanut butter or the dozens of other products sold in their shop.

Mighty Rivers’ logo is a smiling pirate, Captain Jungle Jake, and he has reason to smile. You will, too, when you see what Mighty Rivers has to offer. First, there are 522 different combinations of ice cream with 18 flavors and 29 different dishes, from “Shivers” and “Snickers” and sundaes to shakes and smoothies. The Treasure Island Sundae, for example, has scoops of ice cream topped with gold-foil-wrapped chocolate coins. The Snickers is topped with cherries and cookies.

These elaborate creations are well worth ¢2,000 (about $4). Cones start at ¢500 (about $1) for one-scoopers and go up to the Cerro de la Muerte with five scoops for ¢2,000, and each can be a different flavor.

You can order a Sundae Night anytime, with three different flavors of ice cream and a shot of coffee liqueur for ¢1,400 (about $2.80). If sugar is a no-no, there are diet ice creams. Listed prices include tax.

There is no standard fare here. There are mighty waffles with cheese, sour cream or syrup or sausage. There are mighty sandwiches on bread or waffles, and pumpkin bread, cinnamon rolls and carrot cake.

Coffee lovers can indulge in cappuccinos, espressos, coffee hot, cold or with liqueurs, and lattes in 10 varieties.

And because it’s so hard to decide what to order, you can buy yogurt, ice cream, cheese, bread, peanut butter, honey and lots more to take home and enjoy with the family. You can buy your Tico Times there, too.

All of this good food is produced by the Lapp family at their farm in the Caribbeanslope town of Siquirres, with their own mix of dairy cattle and organic gardens.

Nathan Lapp, who with his wife Marcella runs the store and the sales at the organic farm market in Paso Ancho, south of downtown San José, says his family has been dairy farming in New York state since 1930. He came to Costa Rica in 1999 for a conference and to look at dairy farming here, including a visit to the Quaker community’s cheese factory in Monteverde. He realized there was more opportunity and freedom here to farm, and as “peace people” the couple didn’t want their young children to face going into the military. They made the move in 2001, settling on a 40-hectare farm between Siquirres and Turrialba, a land once occupied by Caribbean pirates. The farm is close enough to EARTHUniversity to take advantage of its agricultural research.

After succeeding in producing quality milk from a mixed herd using only organic feed, the Lapps opened the store in June 2006, leaving the farm in the capable hands of sisters and brothers. The decor is simple but well planned. Broad windows watch over the parking lot, and your car is visible from your table. Extra-wide chairs accommodate your coat, umbrella and bags in comfort.

Marcella, the store’s designer and the mother of three, knew what she was doing when she planned a corner lounge with a sofa, soft chairs, coffee table and bookshelves with literature, much of it for young people.

It’s a perfect arrangement for that one cup of coffee while reading, an intimate conversation, or for keeping the kids content while waiting for the grown-ups to finish.

Located in Plaza Belén on the road to Santa Ana, 300 meters east of Panasonic, or four blocks from the town center, Mighty Rivers Café is easy to reach from the Central Valley cities of San José, Heredia or Alajuela.

It’s open every day, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.,Monday to Saturday, and 2 to 9 p.m. on Sundays.

For a look behind the scenes, the Mighty Rivers ecological farm is open for visits; for information, call Hannah Lapp at 765-1462, or visit


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