Costa Rica has been known for its high-grade coffee for many decades. With roughly 14 million bags of coffee, leaving the country every year, coffee fuels the economy in Costa Rica. Let's put that in perspective for a minute. Costa Rica is about 80% of the size of West Virginia. However, they are 80th in the world in export volume, due in large part by the coffee industry. Another way to look at it is with them producing 14 million bags of coffee, each person in their entire population produces ~450 lbs of coffee. They are the only nation in the world to ban all other varieties of beans except Arabica. So not only are they produce coffee en masse, but they are also producing some of the most exceptional coffee in the world.
Costa Rican Coffee History and Geography
As we briefly mentioned, Costa Rican coffees are known to have some of the best coffee flavor profiles in south/central America. The high-grown altitudes, pleasant acidity, and crisp taste all attribute to their many positive coffee reviews. Costa Rica is blessed with volcanic soil and beautiful weather, which often consists of sunshine in the morning and rain later in the afternoon, I've been there when people were complaining about this pattern, but being an Arizona guy...I love this season. Costa Rica is currently the 14th largest coffee producer in the world, which is actually surprising to me. I would've guessed higher. However, even though they do not produce as much as Guatemala and Honduras, they tend to grow more high-quality coffee beans. I've experienced this in sampling coffees. It is much easier to find a standout Costa Rican coffee than many other countries, and it is much harder to turn a good one away.
Since the early 19th century, coffee has been more than a crop, it is a way of life for the Costa Rican people. After the country declared independence from Spain in 1821, the government handed out coffee seeds to encourage production. As well as distributing beans to people, the Costa Rican government further promoted coffee by making it a tax-exempt crop. This led to the mass exportation of coffee, which began around 1832 and was primarily shipped to Panama and Chile, but eventually was directly exported to England. With a remarkable amount of positive feedback from the English consumers, an Anglo-Costa Rican Bank was established to provide financial aid to help the coffee industry flourish.
After this time and for quite a while, coffee was the sole export product of Costa Rica. Because of this economic boom, the infrastructure of Costa Rica improved tremendously. Railroads were built, hospitals and post offices were fully funded, and the culture progressed by developing theaters, libraries, and universities. Today, 90% of the coffee plantations are owned by producers, keeping the money local and making the beans easily tracible to small-town farmers. Another simple way farmers make money is by offering tours to many North American tourists. It is truly incredible to see how something as small as a coffee bean can completely change the economy and status of an entire country.
Costa Rican Coffee Flavor Profile
Because Costa Rica has a perfect tropical climate for the arabica plant, their beans display an extraordinarily rich, full-bodied, and clean taste. Another source of that rich flavor is the volcanic ash located in the soil, which is a unique characteristic of Costa Rica's land. This trait allows the coffee plant to oxygenate the beans, unlike most other coffee-growing soils. As a result of Costa Rica's diverse terrain, many different regions offer far-ranging flavor profiles. The most common source is the region of Tarrazú. Hidden within the interior mountains of Costa Rica, this part of the valley is known for its acidic taste and thick aromas. Another common region is Occidental, which produces tasting notes of peaches, apricots, and tropical fruit. Costa Rica's extremely diverse range of flavors makes it a staple in any coffee lovers rotation.
Quick Facts -Costa Rica:
1,200 - 1,800 (above sea level)
63 – 73 ℉
Small Scale Farmers
Typica, Caturra, Catuai, Villa Sarchi, Bourbon, Gesha, Villalobos