The Art, Skill & Science of Growing Costa Rican Coffee. .
The best of the best! A perfect cup awaits. .
There are many reasons to visit Costa Rica. Our volcanoes, our beaches, the people & rich culture, to name a few. Toucans, monkeys, our smiling sloths. All that one needs to plan a trip here. Well, my friends, don't forget the coffee. It is a national point of pride that many coffee enthusiasts make the trip to one of the happiest countries on the planet to visit the dozens of coffee plantations scattered around. When you actually see what goes into the development of our famous and beloved icon, you'll have a deeper appreciation of what goes into the formation of that perfect cup of coffee that we all NEED & ENJOY each and every morning.
Did you know that it is actually against the law to plant and grow inferior coffee plants? Now, THAT is dedication to perfection, don't you think?
Even for those who don't have a particular interest in coffee of any type, when arriving at the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, you are met with our "Cafe Britt" stores. They have all of the little things that one needs to take back to friends and family. . the coffee table books showing the most amazing photos of our wildlife here. They offer soft drinks, gum, magazines. . all that most stores at any airport has for sale. They also offer their coffee brand in many forms! You can buy their blends of coffee, grown only a few miles away in Heredia, very close to the Poas Volcano. They also offer chocolate-covered coffee beans and dozens of variations! At least a dozen forms of coffee beans. . coated, mixed and even plain! It is NOW that you understand that coffee perhaps may be something special here in Costa Rica. And, if you love coffee, then you have come to the right place!
Just north of San Jose Central. . the downtown area of the capital of Costa Rica, there is a "barrio". . a neighborhood. . called, "Barrio Amon". This area used to be a coffee plantation well over 150 years ago. When Costa Rica became a name in global coffee export in the 1800's, many of the coffee barons, those who became rich by growing and exporting coffee, built beautiful mansions in this area. Today, Barrio Amon is a great place to spend a morning. . lots of cafes, beautiful architecture, tree-lined streets, such an amazing place that will take you back in time. Be sure to visit Barrio Amon when you are in the San Jose area. It's an artsy kind of place and you'll love spending time there.
Now let's talk a little about how this coffee vibe started so long ago. .
In the late 1700's, coffee began its historical journey here in Costa Rica. The story goes that a few plants were brought from Cuba. By about 1829, coffee actually surpassed sugar, cacao & tobacco as the number one export. Many men were made rich and the economy exploded.
The first coffee went to Panama and Chile and then made its way to England. . then Europe and then the USA. Since that time, Costa Ricans take their coffee seriously. There are many organizations who do nothing but monitor the quality of the coffee grown here in Costa Rica. There are strict standards. In fact, many of the global coffee concerns like Starbucks, have started their own plantations here.
Nowadays, Costa Rican coffee is prized as some of the world’s best and is shipped everywhere from Topeka to Amsterdam. . from Chicago to Saudi Arabia. Small farmers play a large role in this production—nearly 90 percent of all producers cultivate less than 15 acres. There are hundreds of family farming groups that grow coffee. The government has a strong hand in the overseeing of the final product. And that is a good thing!
While traveling through Costa Rica, you are going to see hundreds of coffee fields spread out in balanced harmony across the hillsides. It is indeed a soothing and pleasing sight. Most of our country’s coffee is grown in the San José, Alajuela, Puntarenas, Heredia, & Cartago provinces. These provinces have microclimates that are perfect for growing coffee. The soil is volcanic, slightly acidic and very fertile. In the higher elevations, over 4,000 feet, the cooler climates are perfect to grow coffee.
Most coffee berries are hand picked from the plants. The berries are transported to the processing plants where they are washed and the pulp is removed. The beans are then dried in the sun or by a machine. Then the beans are sorted according to size & shape and of course, sealed in burlap bags. for transport all over the world!
The most classic Costa Rican coffees are mild and softly acidic. They are perfect for afternoon sipping and they work well with sweet deserts, which there are a lot of here in Costa Rica! Growers are currently experimenting with new flavors that are brighter and fruitier. These are less traditional than older varieties and are very popular in many countries around the world.
There are many things going on behind the scene to make certain that Costa Rica stays a big player in the global coffee production game. Scientists from many universities around the world now make Costa Rica their home at least six months out of the year. They are here to do research on sustainability, carbon footprint issues and how to improve the quality of our crop, even though it is close to perfection right now!
Spending a couple of hours on a coffee plantation is a great way to learn about the history and production of this iconic plant. As you walk through the fields, the English-speaking guides will explain how coffee is grown and how it is harvested. You’ll learn about the de-pulping process, the drying and the roasting process. At the end of the tour, a fresh cup of coffee is awaiting your pleasure. It’s a great way to spend a morning.
Growing coffee is indeed an art and a skill. It has taken years to perfect the process and the minds behind the success are dedicated and diverse. If you need a reason to visit, Costa Rica. . come for the coffee!
We invite you to Costa Rica. So many things to see and do here. Coffee is one of many reasons why over 3 million people visit every year to one of the happiest countries on the planet!
Also, please enjoy our over 2,000 episodes of our "Costa Rica Minute / Costa Rica Pura Vida Lifestyle Podcast Series". We are found on all major podcast venues, including iHeartRADIO, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Radio FM, Anchor & many more. Here's our link: www.anchor.fm/costa-rica-pura-vida
About the author
Costa Rica is a magical place. Since November, 2002, when I first visited this country, I have been in love with the people, the culture, its biodiversity, the food. . everything about it makes me happy! Now I share my excitement with you!