I first visited Costa Rica in October 2017. Lodged in my memory about this gorgeous country are so many wonderful things: Things like the gorgeous terrain– mountains, waterfalls, rivers, strawberry farms—the incredible people, the variety of colorful birds like the hummingbird, and last but certainly not least… Costa Rican Coffee. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a huge coffee drinker, tea is my preference, but I gotta tell you, the Costa Rican coffee had me looking forward to the mornings so I could get my fix. Wondering what made it so superb, I did some research on the subject and this is what I discovered.
Costa Rican Coffee – Photo Courtesy of Coffee Wholesale USA
In 1989, a law was passed in Costa Rica that prohibited farmers to plant low-quality coffee beans. As a result, the Costa Rican farmers sought out exceptional quality coffee beans. Costa Rica is the only country in the world where it is illegal to produce any other type of coffee than 100% Arabica.
Arabica is a type of coffee produced from the beans of the Coffea Arabica plant and is the only type of coffee that is grown in the entire country of Costa Rica. Arabica originated in the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia and is the most popular kind of coffee on the planet – making up more than 60% of the coffee worldwide. The plant species Coffea Arabica got its name around the 7th Century when the bean crossed the Red Sea from Ethiopia to present-day Yemen and lower Arabia, therefore giving us the term “Arabica.”
The Beautiful Coffee-Growing Areas of Costa Rica – Photo Courtesy of DLcoffeestore.com
Where Do Coffee Beans Come From?
The fruit of the coffee plant is called a “cherry”. The cherries are orange and red and resemble a stone fruit. The “coffee bean” is the pit-like seed in the center of the cherry.
On average, one coffee plant produces somewhere between one to two pounds of roasted coffee annually, about 4,000 cherries! This means, that for us to enjoy two cups of coffee per day for an entire year, we would require 18 coffee plants.
Costa Rican Coffee Farmer – Photo Courtesy of DLcoffeestore.com
Why Costa Rican Coffee Has a Higher Quality
Arabica coffee tends to be a higher quality coffee than its other counterparts. It has more of a robust flavor and it has more of a distinctive quality aroma.
Arabica coffee beans come from delicate plants that need precise conditions to flourish, conditions like high altitudes, balmy temperatures and volcanic ash to name a few. The mountainous terrains and warm temperatures in Costa Rica provide an excellent growing environment for these exceptional quality Arabica beans. Also, the dry and rainy seasons in Costa Rica contribute to the ideal coffee cultivating. Everything combined creates superior farmland, which affects the entire coffee bean– including the aroma, body, flavor, and acidity.
Moreover, Costa Rica has eight distinct regions that all produce their unique flavor of coffee. The country’s diverse climate leads to a large diversity of microclimates and humidity, all of which are perfect for growing the different assortments of beans. It is only when the beans have fully ripened that they are “cherry-picked” by the farmer’s hand and then processed.
Coffee Growing on a Hillside in Alajuela – Photo Courtesy of Alberto Font/The Tico Times
Better for Our Planet
The Costa Rican culture encourages its people to respect, love, and protect their beautiful environment, and they have many laws in place to protect their natural resources. The country’s commitment to sustainable and ethical growing practices means that their coffee beans are better, not only for the planet but for their farmers.
It’s no wonder then that Costa Rica produces some of the finest tasting coffee in the world. They certainly get my vote!