Costa Rica’s Coffee Growing Regions
Costa Rica has made its mark in the global coffee production industry over the years, with a history that started in the 18th century. Since the cultivation of that first seedling centuries ago, the ubiquitous bean has transformed the nation’s agricultural landscape.
According to the Costa Rica Coffee Institute, a nongovernmental group, the country now has 8 coffee-producing regions. These regions include Brunca, Central Valley, Guanacaste, Orosi, Turrialba, Tarrazú, Tres Rios, and West Valley. The coffee cultivation and agricultural region stretch across more than 80,000 hectares of land. This area is dotted with fincas or farms and mills that produce high-quality, top-notch beans in optimum conditions.
Costa Rica’s Meseta Central or Central Valley, the nation’s agricultural hub, has made its mark in the global coffee industry for its strong coffee culture and tradition, and as a great locale for cultivation. The location’s volcanic and highly acidic soil, right amount of rainfall, and high mountain elevation, create the right recipe for growing and harvesting perfect coffee bean varieties.
Some of these coffee farms and mills are also concentrated in the Tarrazu and Brunca regions. With an elevation of nearly 2,000 meters, the Tarrazu region, produces exceptional products including the Caturra and the Finca Palmilera coffee, which is derived from the Geisha variety. The Finca Palmilera cherries, in particular, is said to be one of the most difficult varieties to cultivate so production levels are fairly limited. No wonder, the variety is often identified as one of the most expensive coffee varieties in the world.
The Brunca region, home to one of Costa Rica’s indigenous communities, produces fine Arabica coffee. Here, the beans are cultivated in conditions different from Tarrazu due to altitude and other environmental variances. Brunca, compared to Tarrazu, has a slightly lower elevation level, with the coffee beans produced in hillside farms.
Harvest season often varies per region. In Tarrazu, the season occurs from December to March while in Brunca, the season starts from August and ends in January. Costa Rica has been focusing on showcasing this industry. During harvest season, some fincas even allow visitors to tour farms, assist in collecting the beans in baskets called canastas, and observe the extraction process. Visitors could also get a taste of the famous brew produced by a specific region. Tarrazu farms produce beans with robust taste and good aroma. Brews made from Brunca-cultivated cherries have been variedly described as “mild” while those raised in elevated farms are sweet with citrus tones.”
Today, coffee has become one of Costa Rica’s major agricultural cash crops, even exceeding production levels for cacao and sugar. According to a USDA report released in 2016, Costa Rica’s crop levels increased by 13.7 percent during the 2015-2016 period. According to the study, the gains in coffee agricultural production was influenced by factors such as “good fertilization, appropriate preventive disease controls, and relatively good weather.” The study projects positive outlook in 2017, with production expected to increase by 3 percent. Just recently, Costa Rica growers expressed proactive plans to go into sustainable cultivation as a next step to ensuring economic growth.