The Volcanic Flavors of Costa Rica
Coffee from Costa Rica is known for its smooth, soft and rich walnut flavor. The rich volcanic soil in which the beans grow plays a significant role in the coffee’s unique taste. The country grows the largest amount of top-grade beans; from traditional washed beans to meticulously processed honey and natural micro lots.
All three major processing techniques: natural, wet and honey processing, are in use in Costa Rica with each producing different results. Wet-processed, or “washed,” beans display the typical clean, mild flavors most associated with this origin, while natural-processed beans tend to show a syrup-flavored body with more fruit tones. Honey-processed beans offer hints of sweetness and molasses.
Costa Rica’s long-established history of democracy directly benefits the growth of this major export. To encourage initial production in the 19th century, the government offered free land to coffee farmers. During this time, production skyrocketed. Today, small farms made up of over 70,000 farmers are responsible for the production of all Costa Rican coffee. Nearly 90 percent of all producers cultivate less than 12 acres (5 ha).
There are eight distinct growing regions in Costa Rica. The most famous is Tarrazú; Tarrazu coffee characterizes itself by its rich aroma and strong acidity. Other well-known areas include Valle Occidental (West Valley), Brunca and Tres Ríos.
Most of the country’s coffee is grown in the San José, Alajuela, Puntarenas, Heredia, and Cartago provinces. These provinces’ climates are perfect for growing coffee. The soil is volcanic, slightly acidic and extremely fertile. The higher elevations – particularly between 3,900 and 5,600 ft. (1,200 and 1,700 m) – have cooler climates that are nicely suited to the needs of coffee plants. Arabica was first grown in Costa Rica’s Central Valley, as a result of the country’s ideal growing conditions.
In the most general terms, Costa Rican coffee presents a good, full body, a rich and robust flavor, and a crisp acidity. The best high-grown coffees have slight chocolate notes and a clean, crisp taste. However, there is considerable variation depending on a number of factors. Find out more about our available Costa Rican coffees in our inventory.