Coffee is the fuel that sets the world in motion. While different cultures may favor other means of getting the job done, everybody can agree that coffee is, by far, the best. The great thing about coffee is that it can be utilitarian; it can be artisanal; it could reflect one’s philosophy. Coffee is anything that you want it to be. All you need are the right grinds, water, and the heat source.
Everything after that is up to you. In recent years, the undisputed king of good quality coffee has been Costa Rica. The exact why’s and how’s of what makes Costa Rican coffee so good is no mystery. Here we will explore everything you need to know about Costa Rican coffee. Everything from the origins, the preparation, to the varieties that exist. By the end, you’ll have a keen understanding of why the world has gone crazy over Costa Rican coffee.
Location, location, location. Costa Rica is perfectly situated for good coffee. Everything from the soil contact to the elevation adds to the goodness. The best coffee is usually grown at elevations of 2,500-3,200 feet above sea level. That’s right where the majority of Costa Rica’s growing land sits. There’s also not a lot of temperature variability. If you want to grow something year-round, probably best to have an even temperature year-round. It only makes sense.
Costa Rica only has about 10° of temperature variability throughout the entire set of seasons. This means that no matter when the beans were picked, coffee from Costa Rica stays consistent at the beginning or the middle of the year. Lastly, rainfall is expected. There’s a rainy season, and there’s a dry season. That’s it. There is no early or late frost, but you have to worry about it. There is no timeframe that you must adhere to for coffee to grow. One has to think about the rainy season.
Regulations and Standards
Every country that prides itself on a particular product has at least some national guidelines around it. There’s a reason why scotch is called “scotch” and not a blended whiskey from Scotland. There is a reason why tequila is “tequila” and not simply an agave spirit. In that same vein, Costa Rican coffee has to adhere to government regulations. Planting or selling bad coffee beans can be met with punishment. Yes, you read that right. Bad coffee is illegal in Costa Rica. This is why the quality that gets exported is so good. Even the locals have such high regard for the product they are making. And as business goes, you don’t water down the quality for export. Especially if it’s your flagship product, so with good coffee as a baseline, you can imagine what high-quality, artisanal, competition-driven coffee products made in Costa Rica may taste like.
Regions of Coffee
Costa Rica has eight different regions that grow coffee. As much as we mentioned the consistency in overall weather, these individual places’ microclimates yield a different flavor profile from each other. Some regions have a milder, sweet aroma. Others have that strong acidity that is sought after by many coffee lovers. It just depends on the tiny variances in moisture and temperature. Because by law, only 100% arabica beans can be planted, the tones in the flavors can be wonderfully appreciated from these eight regions. So if you do a little bit of research, you’ll find that the different flavors are quite stark.
In the Central Valley, you have a rich, almost chocolate-like set of hints. You find that lively, citrusy flavor used in the light, airy means of serving coffee. But it is in the West Valley where you find gourmet, experimental flavors. This is where balance, aroma, and richness come together. One region is not superior to another in terms of taste. It’s all a matter of what you like. Remember, coffee is anything you want to be. So if you look at the different regions, you can base your tastes and your next cup on which of the 8 Costa Rican regions it came from instead of merely “dark” or “strong” or “light.”
Costa Rican coffee already has a foothold among coffee connoisseurs. But every day, the arabica goodness coming from this beautiful South American nation is gaining more and more traction. Unlike other reasons, further expansion of Costa Rican coffee will not spell a downside in quality. It’ll just show the rest of the world exactly how great Costa Rican coffee is. If you haven’t had a cup, you best get yourself one now. Chances are you’ll be hooked.