Costa rica coffee

Costa rica coffee

Exploring Costa Rica Coffee: Flavor, History, and Brewing

Costa Rica Coffee is renowned for its exceptional quality and unique flavour profile. As an integral part of Costa Rica’s culture and economy, coffee cultivation has been a long-standing tradition in this Central American nation. 

This blog post will delve into the fascinating world of Costa Rican coffee beans and explore what sets them apart from other varieties.

History of Costa Rican Coffee

The history of Costa Rican coffee dates back to the late 18th century when the Spanish introduced it to Central America. The fertile volcanic soil and ideal climate in Costa Rica quickly proved perfect for cultivating high-quality coffee beans, leading to a thriving industry that has persisted for centuries. Let’s dive into some key moments in this rich history.

The First Coffee Plantations

In 1808, Father Felix Velarde planted the initial coffee saplings in Costa Rica near San Jose, symbolising the commencement of a significant industry for the country. By 1820, small-scale farmers began exporting their beans to Panama and Chile, which laid the foundation for future growth.

Growth and Expansion (19th Century)

Coffee production rapidly expanded throughout Costa Rica during the 19th century, with exports reaching Europe by mid-century. In fact, by the 1850s, coffee accounted for over half of all export revenue from Costa Rica. 

Coffee Crisis (20th Century)

Despite its success up until then, Costa Rican coffee faced several challenges during the early-to-mid-20th century. However, through government support programs aimed at improving quality standards and promoting sustainable farming practices, it managed not only to survive but also to thrive once again.

Does Costa Rica Produce a Lot of Coffee?

Costa Rica ranks 14th in the world when it comes to coffee production. This small Central American country produces approximately 1.5 million bags (60 kg each) of green coffee beans annually.

Most Costa Rican coffee is grown on small farms known as “micro-mills,” which are often family-owned and operated. These micro-mills focus on producing top-notch quality rather than large quantities, ensuring every bean meets strict standards before being exported worldwide.

  • Coffee Production Area: Over 82,000 hectares (202,630 acres) are dedicated to growing coffee plants.
  • Total Coffee Farms: More than 40,000 farms across the country
  • Average Farm Size: Approximately two hectares (five acres)

In addition to these smaller operations, more extensive commercial plantations contribute significantly to Costa Rica’s overall output. However, regardless of farm size or scale, all producers adhere to strict environmental and social sustainability practices, making Costa Rican coffees delicious and eco-friendly.

To further support their commitment towards sustainable farming methods and fair trade principles, the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) and other international organisations such as Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade International have recognised many Costa Rican farmers for their efforts in promoting environmentally friendly practices within the industry.

Why Is Costa Rica Coffee the Best?

Costa Rica coffee is regarded as one of the best coffee beans throughout the world for a number of reasons which are as follows:

100% Arabica Coffee Beans

Arabica beans are known for their superior taste and aroma as compared to other varieties, such as Robusta. In Costa Rica, it’s mandatory by law to grow only Arabica beans, ensuring that all of their coffee production meets high-quality standards. This focus on a single variety allows farmers and roasters to perfect their craft with these prized beans.

Superior Growing Conditions

The terroir, or unique combination of soil, climate, and altitude in which coffee is grown, significantly impacts its flavour profile. Costa Rica’s environment is ideal for cultivating top-notch coffee, with its volcanic soils packed with nourishment, plentiful precipitation, and altitudes ranging from 1,200 to 1,700 meters.

Hand-picked Beans

In order to ensure optimal ripeness and quality control during harvest time, most Costa Rican farms still rely on manual labour rather than machines for picking cherries (the fruit containing the bean). Workers carefully select only ripe cherries while leaving unripe ones on the plant for future harvesting rounds. This meticulous process results in higher-quality beans with consistent flavours.

The Skill of Artisans

Coffee production in Costa Rica involves skilled artisans at every stage – from farming practices like shade-grown cultivation techniques that protect the environment to expert roasting methods that bring out the beans’ unique flavours. Many Costa Rican coffee producers have been perfecting their craft for generations, resulting in a deep understanding of producing exceptional coffee.

Costa Rican coffee is famed for its distinctive taste and scent, making it the perfect pick for anyone seeking an extraordinary cup of java. To get the most out of this exquisite blend, we will now explore how to brew Costa Rican coffee with a Chorreador.

How to Brew Costa Rican Coffee with a Chorreador?

If you want to enjoy an authentic cup of Costa Rican coffee, then learning how to brew it using a traditional Chorreador is essential. A Chorreador is a simple yet effective brewing method that locals have used for generations.

This section will guide you on how to make an exquisite cup of Costa Rican coffee with the Chorreador.

Gather Your Supplies

  • A Chorreador (a wooden stand with a cloth filter)
  • Freshly ground Costa Rican coffee beans (find our top recommendations here)
  • Hot water (just off the boil)
  • A mug or carafe to collect the brewed coffee
  • A spoon for stirring (optional)

Brewing Steps:

  1. Prepare the Filter: Place the cloth filter in its holder on the Chorreador stand and ensure it’s securely attached.
  2. Add Coffee Grounds: Add two tablespoons of freshly ground Costa Rican coffee into the cloth filter. You can adjust this amount based on your preferred strength but remember that too much may result in over-extraction and bitterness.
  3. Pour Hot Water: Slowly pour hot water over the grounds, making sure all are evenly saturated. Be patient as your pour; allowing time for proper extraction will yield better flavour results.
  4. Brew Time: Allow the coffee to drip through the filter and into your mug or carafe. This process should take around 3-5 minutes, depending on how fine your grounds are.
  5. Enjoy Your Coffee: Once all of the water has passed through, remove the cloth filter from its holder and dispose of the used grounds. Pour yourself a cup of freshly brewed Costa Rican coffee and savour its unique flavours.

Beyond Your Average Cup: Flavor Profile & Characteristics

  • Bright Acidity: One key characteristic that distinguishes Costa Rican coffee is its bright acidity – often described as crisp or tangy – which adds liveliness to each cup.
  • Mild Body: Despite their vibrant flavours, most Costa Rican coffees have a mild body that allows them to be enjoyed without overwhelming your palate.
  • Fruit & Citrus Notes: Grown at high altitudes under ample shade cover, Coffea arabica (the only species cultivated in Costa Rica) develops complex fruit-forward notes such as berries or tropical fruits as citrus undertones.
  • Subtle Chocolate & Nutty Undertones: Many Costa Rican coffees also exhibit subtle chocolate and nutty flavours that add depth and richness to the overall taste experience.

Growing Regions in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known for its eight distinct coffee-growing areas, with their own microclimates and soil types that result in the varying flavour notes of Costa Rican coffees. These regions are:

  • Tarrazu: Often referred to as the “Bordeaux” of Costa Rica, this region produces some of the most sought-after beans in the world. The high altitude and volcanic soil create a bright acidity and complex flavours. Learn more about Tarrazu here.
  • Orosi: Located in Cartago province, Orosi Valley’s rich volcanic soils produce well-balanced coffees with medium body and pleasant acidity. Find out more about Orosi’s coffee production here.
  • Brunca: This southern region boasts a warm climate ideal for growing full-bodied coffees with fruity notes and mild acidity. Discover Brunca’s unique characteristics here.
  • Turrialba: Known for its lush landscapes, Turrialba offers excellent growing conditions for producing balanced coffees with delicate citrus notes. Explore Turrialba’s coffee scene further by visiting this informative page on Turrialba Coffee.
  • Tres Rios: Also known as “Costa Rica’s Bordeaux,” Tres Rios is famous for its high-quality beans with bright acidity and a full body. Dive deeper into the world of Tres Rios coffee here.
  • Guanacaste: Located in the northwestern part of Costa Rica, Guanacaste produces mild coffees with subtle fruity notes due to its lower altitude and warmer climate.
  • Valle Central (Central Valley): This region encompasses several smaller growing areas such as Naranjo, West Valley, and Heredia. The diverse microclimates produce a wide range of flavour profiles, from chocolatey to fruity undertones. Find out more about Valle Central’s unique offerings by checking out this article on Central Valley Coffee.


Costa Rica is a small Central American country that produces some of the world’s best coffee. The tropical climate and nearby volcanoes create perfect growing conditions for high-quality Arabica beans grown in several regions throughout the country. Costa Rican coffee is known for its bright acidity, medium body, and clean taste.

If you’re looking to sample some of Costa Rica’s renowned coffee, plenty of local roasters and cafes offer exquisite brews. You can also learn how to make traditional Costa Rican coffee with a chorreador at home.

If you want to explore more about music as we explored Costa Rica Coffee, visit The Music Ambition. It’s a great platform where you can find everything related to music, from learning an instrument to finding your favourite genre or artist.

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