Green Beans from Costa Rica
Costa Rica is nestled in the heart of Central America, and is as diverse as it is beautiful. This little country has it all – from mountains and volcanoes to rainforests that buzz with life and coastlines with great beaches and surf. With such an impressive landscape, combined with it’s stable government and relative safety compared to it’s Central American neighbours, Costa Rica is a well established tourist destination, especially for U.S. travellers, and around 1.5 million visitors are drawn to its shores, forests and mountains each year.
The nation’s stability and forward thinking governance means Costa Rica has a much higher standard of living than its neighbours, making it a much more expensive country to visit or do business in. The coffee industry is well regulated by the national body Icafe. Under Icafe’s watchful eye, farm workers are monitored and protected with minimum living standards and widely enforced minimum wages for all employees. This regulation has had two distinct impacts on the quality and type of coffee being produced in Costa Rica:
1. Quality has improved as the cost of production is estimated to be close to $2/lb – almost 25% higher than their Latin American counterparts. No longer able to compete on price with the high cost of land, living and employee wages, has forced producers to improve quality.
2. Costa Rica has become a boutique origin producing value-added coffees through experimental processing. No other origin we work in produces the diversity and quality of processing methods as Costa Rica. The quality of their naturals in particular is extraordinary, with a clarity and complexity that few of the worlds producers can match.
Whilst Costa Rica’s total production volume is in decline, as ‘volume growers’ struggle to compete with producers from neighbouring countries on price, the future of the country’s coffee production seems to be in specialty microlots lots that benefit from inventive and interesting processing methods. Leading the way in this regard are the regions of Tarrazu, the Central Valley, the West Valley and Tres Rios.