Nestled in the middle of the mountains of central Costa Rica is Los Santos Zone, an agricultural territory with unique qualities whose inhabitants have perfected for decades the art of growing and producing a coffee that is considered one of the best in the world.
A series of natural factors have blessed this rich land and its inhabitants have been able to take advantage, especially with coffee, a product that is based 90% of the economy of the communities that make up the Los Santos Area. “We are privileged by the height, the lands, the temperature and the climate. We live in a very privileged region for the production of coffee and that we have exploited and in what we are experts, “William Rojas, representative of the coffee cooperative Coope Dota, one of the most important in the area, told Efe.
The main communities in this area are the cantons of Tarrazú, Dota and León Cortes, corresponding to the province of San José, where it is estimated that there are 7,000 coffee families that produce about 13,000 hectares around half a million bags per year.
The most internationally recognized coffee region in Costa Rica is Tarrazú, which encompasses the Los Santos Area, and whose denomination of origin is close to being consolidated in the Land Registry.
Apart from the natural characteristics of the Los Santos area, the production process also contributes to the region’s coffee quality, which is exported to countries such as the United States, Canada, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand.
For example, all the coffee that is produced is harvested by hand, grain by grain, in the harvest that goes from October to March and involving thousands of indigenous people, foreign workers and also communities in the area. Much of the grain is dried in the sun after a process with water. Apart from traditional coffee, the Los Santos Zone has also been tasked with satisfying the most demanding palates in the world through fine coffees produced from micro lots dedicated especially to providing the highest possible quality, which has as retribution better prices in the world.
Rojas explained that Coope Dota also certified the world’s first carbon neutral coffee, which was achieved by changing production processes to save water, reuse waste and reduce pollution. Wood-fired ovens were replaced with ones that used the coffee husks that were previously discarded, as well as wastewater reused to create fertilizers and other coffee debris to produce fertilizer.
The Los Santos Zone is the one with the longest coffee tradition in Costa Rica and it is easy to check it out with just a look at the large plantations that combine with the green mountains, but also with the lifestyle that is breathed on the site. “Since we were children, we did not sit with our parents and drink coffee,” said Carlos Solórzano, one of the representatives of Expocafé Tarrazú 2017, an event held for the second consecutive year in San Marcos de Tarrazú and where dozens of producers and cooperatives Of the Los Santos Area exhibit their products.
Solórzano said the Expocafé, which is being held this weekend, seeks to “demonstrate the quality of coffee we have and that the world knows it, that this goes further and generate progress in the region.” The variety of coffee tastes and varieties are added to other products that are being developed based on grain, such as are rompope, wines, sweets, breads, shampoo, soap or earrings, necklaces, handicrafts and beauty products in general.
Coffee has been one of the main products of Costa Rica throughout history. It is currently the third largest agricultural export good with $ 306.5 million in 2016, behind pineapple ($ 881 million) and banana ($ 987.5 million). The Costa Rican coffee harvest in the 2015-2016 season was 2,228,374 fanegas (bags of 44.5 kilos) and for the 2016-2017 has not yet been given official data.