Costa Rican coffee is a culture with a tradition built for centuries of careful dedication to details from the selection of seeds to serving the brew on the family table. It is in almost every facet of the collective imaginary and feelings, as a way of understanding life.
It was for almost two centuries the main source of family income and national currency. Our seeds are currently recognized as a worldwide standard for producing gourmet coffee quality, protected under a “Protected Geographical Indication” (PGI) that encompasses all coffee produced in the Costa Rican territory, as well as a “Protected Designation of Origin” (PDO) that specifically covers the coffee of Terraza, produced in the “Valle de los Santos”, to the south of the province of San José.
Why is our coffee better?
100% of our coffee is of the Arabica species, of the Caturra and Cautín varieties, which produces a higher quality bean and a brew with better organoleptic characteristics, that is, pleasant and aromatic.
Since 1989, the planting of Robusta coffee is prohibited by law due to lower quality. Also, the Catimores, of high productivity, were stopped growing to preserve cup quality. Our coffee is grown in fertile soils of volcanic origin and low acidity, ideal conditions for its production. More than 80% of the coffee area is located between 800 and 1,600 meters of altitude and at temperatures between 17º and 28º C., with an annual rainfall of between 2,000 and 3,000 millimeters.
Since 2001, the Coffee Institute of Costa Rica, ICAFE, on behalf of the sector, launched the National Coffee Plan with actions that improve the conditions in which it produces, benefits and markets coffee.
The advanced technology that the Costa Rican coffee producer has used for more than 200 years has allowed adapting the plantations to the characteristics of each area. Today Costa Rican coffee is grown in 8 main producing areas.
The manual and selective collection methods are used: only mature beans are chosen (in optimum ripening); This allows for better coffee processing. Each coffee region of Costa Rica signed a Quality Improvement Agreement in which the owners of the beneficiary companies have committed to receiving and processing only ripe fruit, which guarantees better quality.
The Costa Rican coffee sector only uses the wet route, in which the pulp removal is carried out on the same day as the grain harvest. Also, the classification and cleaning, after the pulp removal, is done before the fermentation process, with the idea of eliminating the remaining pulp and taking out possible defective grains.
In the Costa Rican beneficiary process, sun drying is used, one of the most demanded systems in the most demanding world markets; The process takes 7 days. Mechanical drying is also used which reduces the optimum drying point time (12% humidity) to only 24 hours.
As another sample of the quality of Costa Rican Coffee, in 2007 the first recruitment competition was organized from which 10 of the best coffees were selected as winners. Three of them were selected by an expert jury during the “Cup Ping Pabellon” competition of the Fine Coffee Association of the United States.
Differentiated crops are also part of these actions aimed at achieving quality. To encourage the production, processing, and marketing of higher quality coffee, the registration, verification, control, and monitoring of a grain marketing process with differentiated characteristics was established.
The participating beneficiary firms undertake to receive, process, dry, store and market the grain completely separate from the rest that is processed conventionally. Also, for payment with a differentiated settlement, prices superior to those of conventional coffee. The differences in prices are significant.
The goal of the Costa Rican coffee sector is to continue increasing the sale of the grain in fine coffee markets; maintaining the strategy of “emphasis on quality and not quantity”; always provides added value to our coffee and increases participation in the local market with quality coffee.
Coffee producing areas in Costa Rica:
Western Valley: The coffee is grown in valleys and slopes of the Cordillera Central on volcanic soils exceptionally suitable for coffee production. Subregions: San Ramón, Palmares, Naranjo, and Grecia. You can enjoy a pleasant climate throughout the year. The harvest begins in November and concludes in February. These coffee plantation areas vary in altitude between 700 and 1550 meters.
Tres Ríos: is located a few kilometers east of the capital of Costa Rica, San José. The coffee zone is located in the land of influence of the Irazú Volcano on the Pacific slope. The grain produced under these conditions is characterized by its physical hardness and the closed crack. It is known as the Central Strictly Hard Beban (SHB). Tres Ríos, as a coffee area is small, being very homogeneous in climate and soil. Height and soil: Tres Ríos ranges from 1,200 to 1,650 meters.
Tarrazú: Now known as Los Santos. Protected by mountain ranges on the Pacific slope, this region is a sanctuary of mystical birds and forests. Caturra and Cautín are the main varieties, which produce coffee with very mild caffeine, a characteristic highly appreciated by the most demanding markets in the world. Sub-regions: In Acosta and Aserré they are characterized by areas of heights between 800 and 1,200 meters, with very marked summers, stony soils, and steep slopes. The sub-region of Desamparados and Cartago, with heights between 1,200 and 1,700 meters is characterized by marked summers; average temperatures of 20 ° C. Dota, Terraza and León Cortés have heights that reach 1,900 meters.
Orosi: The town of Orosi is in a valley of the Central Plateau, 40 kilometers from the capital; It has an area of 315 km2. The fertile lands of the Valle de Orosi itself and the magnificent climatic conditions make this region produce a soft coffee brand that offers a balanced cup, with good acidity, body, and aroma. The highest parts of the Orosi Mountains are covered by forests protected by private biological reserves and national parks. Sub-regions: The Orosi coffee zone can be described as an elongated valley protected by its slopes. It includes the subregions: Cachi and Paraíso.