COSTA RICA: COMMITMENT TO QUALITY
The history of coffee growing in Costa Rica dates back more than 200 years, being the first Central American country to start growing coffee. Since its introduction in 1808, coffee has become a part of the lives of many Costa Ricans who, to this day, take special pride in producing coffees that are recognised as among the best in the world.
With fertile volcanic soils, most of Costa Rica's production area is located between 800 and 1,600 m.a.s.l. In addition, two well-defined seasons and mild temperatures of between 17º and 28º are some of the other characteristics that make this Central American country perfectly suited to coffee growing.
Over the years, Costa Rica has placed special emphasis on positioning its coffee within the speciality market, focusing on quality rather than quantity as a production strategy and highlighting the unity of the whole coffee chain to achieve and maintain this objective. Research and innovation in growing techniques and training oriented towards the at the specialisation of the people involved in each stage of production join both environmental conservation measures and strong commitment to the rights of all the actors involved in the coffee activity.
COFFEE-GROWING REGIONS AND PRODUCTION MODEL
There are 8 distinct coffee regions in Costa Rica, defined by ICAFE (Instituto del Café de Costa Rica): Central Valley, Western Valley, Tarrazú, Tres Ríos, Orosi, Brunca, Turrialba and Guanacaste.
The topography in each of them is widely diverse. From the coastal plains, the land rises towards mountainous areas with the presence of numerous volcanoes. This leads to different microclimates with different levels of luminosity, humidity and temperature, as well as soils of different composition. In addition, coffee growers' ability to adapt to the conditions of their land means that this small country can harvest very different crops in each region, giving rise to an interesting variety of sensory profiles.
A unified and sustainable production model
Throughout harvest season on Costa Rican farms, the manual selection method is used, picking only the cherry that is at its optimum point of ripeness, so the cherry absorbs all the sugars and other properties of the mucilage and husk, resulting in greater organoleptic complexity.
Once the cherry has been picked, it must be delivered to the mills within next 24 hours. This procedure is the same in all regions of the country, as the mills have signed an agreement whereby they undertake to pick and process only ripe fruit, in order to obtain the best quality.
Moreover, all actors in the production chain are committed to a sustainable farming model. Different agreements regulate, for example, the processing methods: water use is controlled, the pulp is reused as fertiliser and the parchment is burned to produce the energy needed to dry the beans.
The main processing method used is washing, but natural, honey and experimental methods can also be found mainly in microlots.
COFFEE SECTOR IN COSTA RICA
Coffee is one of Costa Rica's main agricultural export products. Its industry and commercialisation is handled by the private sector, while ICAFÉ is in charge of ensuring an equitable production model among all the actors that make up the sector in the country: producers, bulking companies, exporters and national roasters.
Founded in 1933, some of the functions that enable ICAFÉ to achieve this objective are: to ensure compliance with environmental and quality laws, to draw up and update a register in which all mills and exporters wishing to operate as such must be registered, and to set the percentage that each stage of the chain can receive in the commercialisation process.
From growing to exporting, Costa Rican coffee is carefully handled by all the people involved in the production chain. Maintaining the quality of their coffees is their main objective, and they are committed to training, environmental conservation and responsible and fair trade as added value to their product.
For years, Costa Rica has been an ever-present origin in the Xorxios selection. With complex and varied profiles, their coffees can satisfy a wide range of sensory needs and meet the highest quality standards, which has led them to achieve great recognition in the specialty coffee market season after season.