A Little bit on Costa Rican Coffee
When you think of Costa Rica, you think of its year-round tropical climate, pristine beaches, stunning mountain ranges, mysterious rainforests and friendly, welcoming people. However, coffee is an important part of the historical fabric of the country and remains one of Costa Rica’s top exports to the United States and other countries. No trip here is complete without sampling coffee from several growing regions. Costa Rican coffee also makes an inexpensive gift to bring home to friends and family and it fits easily in your carry-on bag!
It is hard to confirm the origin of coffee but the most common tale is about how an Ethiopian goat herder noticed his flock eating a red bean from glossy plants. The goat herder tried one of the beans and quickly noticed he had extra energy for the next several hours. He brought some beans to a monk who later boiled them into a liquid to drink. From there, news of this “magical bean” spread throughout the world.
Whether the story of the Ethiopian goat herder is true or not, coffee eventually made its way to Costa Rica and cultivation of coffee began here in 1790. Since then, a mature industry has developed and the country’s various blends can be found in stores and restaurants throughout the world.
Today, coffee comes in two varieties, Robusta and Arabica. Robusta coffee beans account for about 25% of the world’s coffee production. The Robusta variety tends to be grown at lower altitudes and is prevalent in Asia. While Robusta produces more beans per plant, with the end result being a less expensive product for consumers, it offers a harsher taste. Arabica coffee accounts for 75% of world production and is grown at higher altitudes throughout Latin America, including Costa Rica. The taste of Arabica coffee is much more refined than other species and is generally more appealing to most consumers. The Arabica bean is harder and has a denser aroma. At the turn of the 20th century, the Costa Rican government passed a law stating that only Arabica coffee could be grown in Costa Rica which differentiates this country from all others in the world.
Costa Rican coffee is grown in several regions, generally in the Central Valley highlands outside of the capital of San Jose. Costa Rica has many microclimates and due to the drastic change in altitude and climate over relatively short distances, the result can be differences in flavor in the end product. Regions in Costa Rica famous for its coffee are Tarrazu, Tres Rios, Herediá, Alajuela, and Poas Volcano.
Despite differences in climate, Costa Rican coffees are known more for their straightforward taste and appearance compared to more complex blends found in other countries. With all of the “designer blends” available today, if it is a traditional cup of hearty Latin coffee that you want, Costa Rican coffee is the way to go.
The advent coffee production brought Costa Rica from a wild, tropical backwater to a more modern society with the profits from coffee going to support the development of towns, the opening of schools and medical facilities, and stronger links to the outside world. Today, Costa Rica’s rich coffee history is remembered throughout the country in local celebrations and through a number of “coffee tours” in the Central Valley.
Don’t let your time in Costa Rica slip by without sampling some of the finest coffee in the world—and definitely bring some home with you!
To learn more about Costa Rica for retirement and investment, take a Boomers Tours!