Origin story: Costa Rica

It's the jewel of Central American coffee. Or at least, that is what the Costa Ricans will tell you. Don't get me wrong, Costa Rica produces some amazing coffee, but so do their less savvy neighbors. Many people who know a little about coffee, know to ask for Costa Rica. This is due, largely to their very successful coffee tourism program. I have had countless customers tell me about their trip to a Costa Rican coffee plantation where they had the best cup of coffee ever. It's been three years, but I am finally offering a lot from Costa Rica (La Pastora) so I thought it was time to tell you more about this fascinating origin.

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Coffee came to Costa Rica in 1779, and it was immediately shown to be an ideal climate. Seeing the economic potential, the government strongly encouraged coffee cultivation by offering free plots of land for coffee growing. Many of the oldest plantations were started in this manner. Costa Rica was the first Central American country to create a true coffee industry. Coffee surpassed other cash crops (such as Cacao, Tobacco, and Sugar) in revenue as early as 1829, only 50 years after being introduced. It has steadily grown in popularity since then. Today, Costa Rica accounts for 1% of the total world coffee production.

Coffee in Costa Rica is produced much like other Central American countries. It is primarily grown on small farms, processed in community wet mills, and dried on concrete patios. The wet process is by far, the most common though they are also at the cutting edge of new methods such as honey and dry processing. Many of the pickers on Costa Rican farms are Nicaraguan immigrants.

The profile of Costa Rican coffee is unique, though it fits within the larger Central American style. The best lots have a snappy citrus acidity and amazing amount of syrupy sweetness. The soil in Costa Rica is mostly volcanic and there are many great farms that are above 5,000 feet producing wonderful high-grown lots. The government has also been great about supporting technology and environmentalism among farms and processing facilities. There are many micro-regions in Costa Rica. The best known is the Tarrazu region (which is where my current lot comes from).

The one problem with Costa Rican coffee is that it is often so classic that it is boring. This is what happened to me when I first started FBCR. I tried countless lots from Costa Rica and found them all to be not as interesting as lots from neighboring countries. I also tried many stunning Costa Rican microlots that were far outside of my price range. So I had been searching for a more affordable regional blend that was not boring. I finally found it in my new La Pastora. And I must say, it impressed me even more than those high priced microlots. It's always fun when you find a diamond in the rough. 

Bryan HibbardComment