The Secrets Of Costa Rican Coffee (A Guide To History, Taste, & Production)


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The best coffee doesn’t only depend on your barista’s exceptional skills but also on the quality of the coffee brewed from a specific country. Perhaps you’ve heard of Costa Rica coffee and what makes it unique.

Costa Rica coffee accounts for only about 1% of the world’s total coffee production. But when it comes to quality, only few nations have been able to match up to this country’s specialty coffee. Thanks to the high quality and great flavor of the Costa Rican coffee beans, many wishes not only to taste their coffee but to visit the plantations and learn about its production and processing as well.

In this article, we’ll discover the unique secrets of Costa Rican Coffee.

Focus costa rican coffee discovering the unique secrets

A Brief History of Costa Rican Coffee

Costa Rica saw coffee introduced to the masses for plantation as a beverage back in the late 1700s. Central Valley was the first place where coffee was grown in the nation, thanks to its ideal coffee growing conditions.

The cultivation of Arabica coffee continued for quite some time while until the Costa Rican government realized the economic potential of coffee growing. Following this, the government gave out free land for any interested coffee farmers leading to massive production of this agricultural crop.

The result compared perfectly with the production statistics having the revenue generated from coffee surpass that of cacao, tobacco, and sugar with the third decade of the 19th century. While Costa Rican coffee beans were exported to Chile and Panama in the early 19th century, the exportation of a few coffee bags to England saw the latter become Costa Rica’s coffee export recipient.

Currently, Costa Rican coffee is quantified as one of the best in the world, with its impact on the nation vividly visible. While only a few coffee plantations were present in the country during the 19th century, nowadays, tons of farmers (mainly small-scale) have helped Costa Rica realize its coffee production dreams.

Discover the secrets of Costa Rican Coffee – Cafédirect

Costa Rica Growing Condition

All credit to the great flavor of the Costa Rican coffee is given to the great and ideal coffee growing conditions offered by most of the country’s main regions.

For excellent quality produce, coffee needs to grow in a warm high-altitude. Geographically, the nation matches up to the requirement having it being a thin strip of land surrounded by a coastline and mountainous land. The vast mountains cover the country that offers a high altitude (1200 to 1800m above sea level), while the warm tropical weather offers Costa Rica ideal coffee growing conditions.

Furthermore, the country has two seasons, including the dry and rainy seasons, offering constant ambient temperatures for coffee growing. Costa Rica’s soil is quite fertile thanks to its volcanic ash, hence acting as a natural fertilizer.

Overall, more than 80% of all coffee growing regions in Costa Rica share high altitude, perfect weather, and volcanic soils, contributing to the consistency in coffee quality.

How Is Costa Rican Coffee Processed?

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The processing of Costa Rican coffee beans provides yet another fantastic experience for all coffee lovers all over the world.

Notably, there are three most sought-after ways that Costa Rican coffee beans are processed. They include;

The natural method

Probably done by every coffee-producing nation, the natural method is basically the oldest and most straightforward method of coffee processing.

Here, farmers get freshly harvested coffee beans ready for sun drying, which is probably the only time-consuming stage of the method. Averagely, the drying process takes slightly more than a month, with the coffee beans dried to a moisture level of about 11%.

This method allows the coffee bean to absorb the sugars and flavors from the skin and fruit.  After the beans are optimally dried, they can be ground and ready for packaging.

The washed method

The washed method is the most popular and commonly used all over the world. Here, Costa Rican coffee is harvested with the separation of the pulp and bean done imminently.

The beans are then sorted out based on their weight and size while being passed through large water drums. From this stage, the beans are moved to a fermentation tank, where they are kept till mucilage has completely dissolved.

This process takes about 12 to 48 hours. After then, the coffee beans are dried and ready for use in coffee brewing.

The honey method

While the process is rarely adopted by many of the coffee-producing countries, Cost Rica is among the few nations that use it quite commonly. Honey processed coffee tends to have a sweet flavor, with a mellow acidity.

Notably, the method’s name is derived from the mucilage layer of the coffee bean, which is slimy and thick. The procedure starts with the pulping of the harvested coffee beans. Unlike the washed method, you will need to leave some mucilage on the bean.

The beans are then laid out on a bed and dried for about ten to fifteen days resulting in a more acidic coffee bean.

What Does Costa Rican Coffee Taste Like?

Costa Rican coffee has its unique flavor, thanks to its excellent production and processing processes. Notably, the flavor profile of Costa Rican coffee is determined majorly by the processing methods.

  • A great example is the washed coffee that possesses a clean and mild taste with some honey and milk chocolate notes.
  • The honey processed Costa Rican coffee beans, on the other hand, are less acidic hence a sweeter taste with honey and molasses tones.
  • And if you want another character of taste, the natural processed Costa Rican coffee beans possess a syrupy body as well as fruit character.

However, processing isn’t the only factor that affects flavor. You also need to consider how the coffee is grown. For example, the shade-grown, Costa Rica Peaberry Coffee from the Aquiares Estate in the Tres Rios region tend to be mildly sweet and bright.

You can also find that a high-altitude-grown Costa Rican Coffee has a balanced and intense flavors, with notes of honey, lemon, and almond. In the end, coffees sourced from Costa Rica are highly prized for their unique flavor.

The 8 Distinct Growing Regions of Costa Rica

Focus costa rican coffee discovering the unique secrets

Costa Rica has not one but eight coffee-growing regions, all suited for the best Arabica coffee production. Here are the eight major coffee-growing regions in Costa Rica.

1. Central Valley

Central Valley was the first coffee plantation back in the 18th century. The region is characterized by distinct dry and rainy seasons all through the year. Notably, beans obtained from the area are more balanced hence chocolate and fruity flavor profile.

2. Brunca

Brunca is well known by many for its high humidity as well as tropical climate. Here, you can enjoy citrus flavor notes from the region’s coffee beans.

3. Turrialba

Thanks to the region’s volcanic soils that its beans grow on fertile grounds. This region’s coffee beans have slight acidity with a mild taste as well as a great smell.

4. Orosi

The Orosi are known for their balanced flavor profile. While some might term this region’s coffee too plain, it is quite a deal for people who prefer a not-so-strong coffee.

5. Tarrazu

Tarrazu region of Costa Rica gifts coffee lovers with one of the best coffee quality. Thanks to the region’s weather and soils, its coffee beans bring out orange, vanilla, and chocolate flavor tones, making its coffee quite expensive compared to most produced coffee beans.

6. West Valley

With the West Valley’s coffee beans, expect to have some coffee with honey and peach flavor tones with some hints of vanilla. Thanks to the region’s fair weather throughout the season that the region yields such great coffee beans.

7. Tres Rio

Yet another region with highly volcanic and fertile soils, Tres Rio, gifts coffee lovers with milder coffee beans. In most cases, these coffee beans offer a light and more balanced flavor.

8. Guanacaste

Characterized by high altitudes due to the mountainous terrain, coffee from this region is quite strong than that of other regions. You will mostly get some light acidic and bitter coffee beans with some salty notes.

Buying Costa Rica Coffee Beans

There are a lot of roasting companies that source green beans from Costa Rica, and roast them at their state of the art facilities across the U.S. As much as possible, avoid buying coffee beans from grocery stores, especially those that are stored in the market shelves for a long time.

I would recommend to buy coffee beans directly from local roasters that sell specialty, single origin coffee. You can ask them if they sell a few Costa Rica coffee bags. I’m pretty sure, most of them probably have it.

You can obtain a fresh and consistent roast profile. You’re also probably getting high-quality beans. So, you should explore local roasters nearby and start trying their coffee. In the end, they will give you enough idea of the type of roast that you want, or help assist you in your purchases and preferences.

If you can’t go to a local roaster, physically, then you can buy coffee beans online. There are a lot of coffee brands/companies, or online roasters, out there that roast and ship freshly roasted coffees. They offer made to order products on their websites or e-commerce platforms to guarantee freshness. So be sure to check them out!

  • Volcanica Coffee Company. They offer high-quality single origin coffees from volcanic regions around the world. And that includes Costa Rica. They have Costa Rica Peaberry, Costa Rica Geisha, Costa Rica Tarrazu Decaf, and many more.
  • Cooper’s Cask Coffee. This company is a small batch roaster that specializes in Barrel Aged Coffee, Single Origins and coffee gift box sets. You can get their Costa Rican SWP (Swiss Water Processed) Decaf medium roast coffee beans.
  • Fresh Roasted Coffee. Their coffees are roasted fresh to order, immediately packaged, nitrogen flushed, and shipped directly to your door. You can buy a bag of Organic Costa Rican Coffee for about $14 and their Costa Rican Tarrazu for almost $16.
  • Coffee Bros. They source all their coffee to achieve specific taste notes. You can have their Costa Rican Microlot coffee sourced from one of high-end limited-edition lots. This coffee has tasting notes of Cocoa, Toffee, Lemon, with a sweet and clean body.
  • Amazon. The giant market place caters a bunch of sellers and businesses that sells variety of coffee beans. Brands, such as the Café Britt®, Starbucks, Java Planet, Allegro Coffee, etc. also offer Costa Rica coffee beans. Some of them taste great, while some are just right. Find your favorite coffee on Amazon’s best selling Costa Rican coffee beans!

I also suggest to explore different sources, brands, roasters and businesses. There are still many great places out there where you can buy Costa Rica coffee beans. Also, you might discover different coffees that you’ve never encountered before

Conclusion: Why Costa Rican Coffee is the Best?

Costa Rica might not be the leading coffee exporter in the world (actually thirteenth), but its quality of coffee is way above most of the coffee produced by other nations.

The quality has been achieved through great and hard work by the residents and the government in ensuring Costa Rica yields top-notch coffee produce.

From 100% Arabica production to great coffee growing conditions, Costa Rica will probably have its high coffee quality glory live on for many years to come.

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