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Coffee in Costa Rica

Coffee in Costa Rica

Find out more about the Costa Rica coffee. Learn about the Costa Rica coffee plantations and its famous coffee – the Tarrazu coffee.

Coffee in Costa Rica plays a key role. It has not only been vital for the country's development but also remains one of its biggest exports and is hugely important for the economy. Additionally, Costa Rica is considered to produce some the world's best coffee, a reputation that all Costa Rican coffee producers are keen to enforce.

The first production of Costa Rica coffee can be dated back to 1779 when it was introduced by Spanish colonists who brought it from Arabia. This is why the coffee beans are often referred to as “coffea arabica”. Costa Rica had the ideal soil and climate for coffee beans to grow so production understandably flourished.

In the early 1800s the Costa Rican Government actively encouraged coffee production to meet the growing demand from Europeans by offering free land for farmers who wanted to harvest the plants. As a result many the large areas that are cultivated now were first developed in the 1800s. Coffee quickly became the most important crop and in 1829 Costa Rican coffee production took over that of tobacco, sugar and coco to become the country's biggest export. This remained the case for many years to come.

The money made from Costa Rican coffee plantations was significant for the country's development. The profits allowed the construction of Costa Rica's first railway in 1890, the “Ferrocarril al Atlántico” which transported the coffee beans to the Atlantic coast so that they could be exported to Europe. The National Theatre in the capital city San Jose was completed in 1897. It is considered to be one of the country's finest examples of architecture and was constructed in order to show off the economic success of the Costa Rican coffee industry.

These days coffee still remains the country's third biggest export even after the development of more modern industrial practices and the huge growth in tourism. Some companies such as Britt Coffee in Costa Rica have even combined coffee and tourism to great effect and attract thousands of visitors each year to the coffee plantations in the Tarrazu Valley to show the manufacturing process and promote their environmentally sustainable production methods.

Situated in the Costa Rican highlands, the Tarrazu Valley is one of the most renowned coffee producing areas in the world.  Its rich volcanic soil, cool climate and high altitude combine to create very highly regarded coffees, favored for their light, clean flavors and unique aromas. Tarrazu coffee is also preferred over other varieties by many for its high caffeine content.

Costa Rica coffee has had a major effect on American coffee. In recent years the introduction of high quality Costa Rican coffee to the US market by companies such as Britt Coffee and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf has been hugely successful. With emphasis on the quality of the coffee beans used, more people have been encouraged to produce better tasting coffees in their own homes by becoming amateur “baristas”, a trend that is growing in popularity.

It may seem hard to believe that something like coffee can have had such a huge effect and be so relied on by a country like Costa Rica. The fact remains however, that without the huge coffee plantations in places with reputations like Tarrazu then Costa Rica would be very different today because much of its development over the past two centuries has revolved around the coffee sector. Provided that Costa Rica continues to produce some of the best coffee in the world then the world will keep benefiting from authentic Costa Rica coffee.