In Costa Rica coffee represents one of the largest cash crops, alongside the fruit industry. The country has long been recognized as an excellent grower and producer of coffee beans, with a rich history that dates back to the first half of the 1800s when it became known as the ‘grano de oro’ or ‘golden bean.’ Traveling throughout the country you can see that in Costa Rica coffee is really ingrained in the culture, where it’s not uncommon to see kids, adults, and the elderly slurping down their café con leche (coffee with milk) at all times of the day.
Most Costa Rica coffee beans are washed Arabics from the Caturra varietal. The coffee is noted for its sparkling, bright acidity and balanced, resonating character. Flavors in the coffee are clean and clear, producing a classic straightforward taste without overbearing complexity. Sophisticated berry harvesting and drying techniques ensure that the coffee’s true flavor remains intact without the inconsistency of other areas where fewer standards are in place.
Costa Rica Organic Coffee
The recent interest in organic products has spread to the Costa Rica coffee industry where you can find many products that are certified organic. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture this means:
It must have been grown on land without synthetic pesticides or other prohibited substances for three years.
There must have been a sufficient buffer between the organic coffee and the nearest conventional crop.
The farmer must have a sustainable crop rotation plan to prevent erosion, the depletion of soil nutrients, and control for pests.
Obviously these are all positive things for the environment, and so I recommend you think about purchasing Costa Rica organic coffee. Unfortunately, organic coffee only makes up 0.6% of the coffee sold in major coffee consuming countries, as reported by the World Bank.
Fair Trade Coffee Costa Rica
Concerned global citizens are also interested in Fair Trade coffee from Costa Rica. Many other people don’t really know what this label means, so first I’ll give you the overview from TransFair USA, which is a non-profit organization that certifies Fair Trade Products in the USA.
Fair price: Democratically organized farmer groups receive a guaranteed minimum floor price and an additional premium for certified organic products. Farmer organizations are also eligible for pre-harvest credit.
Fair labor conditions: Workers on Fair Trade farms enjoy freedom of association, safe working conditions, and living wages. Forced child labor is strictly prohibited.
Direct trade: With Fair Trade, importers purchase from Fair Trade producer groups as directly as possible, eliminating unnecessary middlemen and empowering farmers to develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace.
Democratic and transparent organizations: Fair Trade farmers and farm workers decide democratically how to invest Fair Trade revenues.
Community development: Fair Trade farmers and farm workers invest Fair Trade premiums in social and business development projects like scholarship programs, quality improvement trainings, and organic certification.
Environmental sustainability: Harmful agrochemicals and GMOs are strictly prohibited in favor of environmentally sustainable farming methods that protect farmers’ health and preserve valuable ecosystems for future generations.
As noted in the last principle, Costa Rica coffee that is labeled Fair Trade is also likely to be organic. In fact 85% of Fair Trade coffee is organic. Buying Fair Trade and Organic Costa Rica coffee is a great way to support the industry and the smaller farmers, as well as help protect the beautiful and delicate environment of this country.
Visiting Costa Rica Coffee plantations is also a great way to see some of the incredibly lush flora in the highlands where coffee is grown. Make sure that you include this on your trip, whether you’re on an organized tour or driving around in a rental car – if you are a coffee lover or just a lover of nature you are sure to enjoy yourself. And don’t forget to bring a bag of Costa Rica Fair Trade or Organic coffee back home with you, because it makes a fantastic gift!