Costa Rica is well known for the high quality and excellent taste of its coffee, so when you buy and drink Costa Rican coffee not only are you enjoying the best Costa Rica gourmet coffee beans but you are also maintaining the livelihood of small scale farmers and coffee producers nationwide. In Costa Rica, coffee has not only been the source of a strong exporting industry: it has also permeated and branded the Costa Rican's way of life. Costa Rica’s coffee plantations began in 1790, and by 1821, the government was encouraging families to produce export quality coffee by giving out 25 starter plants and a life free of taxes for coffee producing families. Costa Rica was built up by independent coffee producing families, and the culture and society of this Central American country are deeply meshed with this golden grain. Thanks to coffee exports to Europe, Costa Rica discovered the possibility of having railroads, postal service, printing presses, universities and an opera house: the National Theatre is a miniaturized copy of the Paris Opera House that was financed with money from the coffee taxes and has become a symbol of the bonanza and wellbeing that coffee brought to Costa Rica. Coffee also influenced the way we tell tax time: the fiscal year begins in October and ends in September of the following year, following the coffee harvesting, processing and sale schedule. And what starts on the ground ends on the ground: coffee also influenced the way ticos thought of land and ownership, where land is divided into small and medium sized plots that work together, a structure that had remained unchanged until the recent real estate boom and the change in the economic patterns of the country.
Costa Rica’s climate is ideal for cultivating coffee, and the high altitude slopes produce consistent quality and results in a Costa Rica gourmet coffee that differs in taste from region to region. So, what goes into a cup of coffee and how does a cherry in a tree become a cup of hot java? It mostly takes place in Costa Rica’s coffee farms. After the coffee shrubs have been planted and taken care of for a space of time from 3 to 6 years, a time will come when the self pollinating Arabica plant starts flowering and eventually bears fruit. In Costa Rica, Coffee beans do not ripen at the same time, and an added difficulty is that they do not ripen after being plucked. For that reason, handpicking is necessary and coffee pickers have to be careful and pick out only the red cherries from the plant. Once the coffee cherry is off the bush, it goes to the processing plant or “beneficio”, where the Arabica coffee beans are soaked in water, floating beans (defectives) are removed and then the beans go into a pulping machine that separates the skin and mucilage that surrounds the bean. Then the coffee beans are placed on drying platforms and sun dried. Once they are dry they are sent to the roaster where the parchment surrounding the dry bean is removed and the coffee is graded for quality and size and roasted, packaged and ready to be sold as either full or ground beans, both are from gourmet coffee beans. Costa Rica has been known for its coffee for a long time, you cannot miss the opportunity to enjoy it. Do you wish to visit these plantations and processing facitlities? Then you may enjoy this coffee tour near San Jose, or this other coffee tour that is combined with waterfalls and the Poas Volcano.
Although coffee plantations concern environmentalists due to deforestation, we have found a way to balance out the impact. The newest trend is the production of Costa Rica organic coffee and Costa Rica shade grown coffee. These coffee plantations protect the steep terraced slopes from washing off during the rainy season and provide homes for many different bird and animal species. The benefit to humans is also felt: organic coffees make life safer and healthier for the farmers and drinkers, the various trees provide shade for coffee pickers and give firewood and other food products to the farmers. In addition, Costa Rica Fair Trade Coffee has grown in the international market in a way of commerce that strives to eliminate the middleman and thus allows the farmer to receive a larger percentage of the sale directly. When you buy Costa Rica coffee directly from the coffee producers you are helping them directly by allowing them to live off their traditional trade. Ask about our coffee tours and we can arrange for your trip to Costa Rica to include a stop in one of Costa Rica’s coffee plantations to observe with your own eyes the transformation of seed to steaming cup of the best of Costa Rica gourmet coffee.