Central Valley, West Valley, Guanacaste, Tres Ríos, Turrialba, Orosi
Graded by Altitude
SHB - Strictly Hard Bean
GHB - Good Hard Bean
HB - Hard Bean
MHB - Medium Hard Bean
Coffee has been vital to Costa Rica’s economic development since the time it was planted in 1779 in the Central Valley with seeds from Cuba.
It was Costa Rica’s ideal growing conditions — fertile soil, high altitude and cool climate — that contributed to the the country’s success in the coffee industry.
The Costa Rican government recognized its economic potential and offered free land to coffee farmers in the early 1800s. Coffee production skyrocketed right after and Costa Rica became the first country in Central America to commercially grow coffee.
Oil painting of William Le Lacheur, a British Guernsey sea captain who played an important role in the economic development of Costa Rica. Credit: Guernsey Museums & Galleries
In 1834, Captain William Le Lacheur, who had seen the potential of working directly with the Costa Ricans, sent hundreds of bags of Costa Rican coffee to Britain. It captured Britain’s attention and sparked a national interest in Costa Rican coffee.
The British invested heavily in Costa Rica’s coffee industry and became the largest consumer of the country’s coffee export until World War II.
Coffee Production in Costa Rica
Today, Costa Rica is a leading producer of microlot coffees and produces among the best coffees in the world. A majority of the country’s coffee are produced by small family-run farms.
Most Costa Rican farmers send their coffee cherries to a privately owned or cooperative mills for processing. In recent years, a new generation of “micro-mills” that are owned by individual farmers have popped up, allowing them full control of their own product from cultivation through to processing and packaging.
Costa Rica has also recently introduced the honey processing method that caught the attention of specialty coffee buyers around the world for its uniquely sweet fruity flavor.
The honey process is named after the remaining mucilage which have a sticky, honey-like consistency.
However, coffee regions in Costa Rica have seen decreased production over the recent years. As cities expand into countryside and land prices increases, some financially constrained farmers are left with little choice but to cash in their land to real estate developers.
Classic Costa Rican coffees are predictably light-bodied, mildly acidic, and clean.
The new generation of honey processed Costa Ricans have an interesting range of flavors, depending on the type of honey processing method.
White and yellow honey coffees taste closer to the classic Costa Rican coffees, with a subtle fruitiness.
Red honey coffees tend to be slightly pulpy and sweet, with red fruit notes. Black honey coffees are sweeter, heavy-bodied, and flavorful, which come across well in espresso.