Richness of Costa Rican Coffee
Those Costa Rican coffees that arrive in the United States are typically mountain grown SHB (Strictly Hard Bean) varieties grown in the central part of the country near San Jose. Those popular varieties include Tarrazu, Tres Rios, Poas, and Heredia. They tend to be quality, balanced coffees with a clean and medium bodied taste. Most processing methods are wet processed a quality controlled factories that produce a consistent and predictable taste. This tends to offset some “gourmets” who look for those odd tastes that come from off-standard processes or mistakes where the coffee goes sour or includes some rotten beans. During coffee tastings these gourmets will rave over the unique tastes resulting from these situations. In any event, Costa Rica tends to put out a more consistent quality and taste that other countries in the region. This results in a coffee that lends itself well to an office coffee service.
Some Terrazu coffees, like from the Dota area do provide the more odd tasting coffees from time to time due to their less orthodox and less stringent processing methods. These unique tastes can result from overripe beans or other “issues” that occur during harvesting and processing.
Unlike some of the other Central American countries, like Guatemala coffee, Costa Rica uses farm (Finca) names to identify and differentiate its coffees rather than the region from which it originates. This is not always the case, but unfortunately, this practice often leaves the US consumer without a compass as it relates to where their Costa Rican coffee was grown. There are well known fincas (farms) like Bella Vista and Café Britt that are well known and even export roasted coffees directly when ordered online. The Great American Coffee Company also has an online gourmet office coffee service.
Costa Rican coffee overall is considered throughout the industry as high quality. The beans are mostly handpicked and shipped to central processing plants where they go through a mechanized washing, fermentation, and hulling process. Usually, the beans are sun dried, although final drying can occur in large drum dryers. The process used for sorting and grading is quite thorough enabling the production of a consistent and high quality product.
Coffee Regions of Costa Rica
Today, most of the coffee farms near San Jose and the areas of Cartago, Alajuela, and Heredia are quickly disappearing because of rising real estate prices. Farmers are compensated more for their land for conversion to urban use than they make from coffee farming, following the pattern well established in most first world countries.
The coffee production in Costa Rica is dependent on cheap labor and since the country is more prosperous than its surrounding neighbors are migrants from other countries tend to work seasonally on the coffee plantations. After picking, the coffee is transported to the processing plants (beneficios) where the pulp is removed. The beans are then spread out to dry in the sun and sorted according to size and shape.
One of the most popular types of Costa Rican coffee is from the Terrazu area. Unlike coffees such as Sumatra coffee or Kenya coffee, Terrazu is considered to be one of the highest quality beans for use in making espresso coffee, the Arabica coffee of Costa Rica is high sought for this purpose.