Last year we experienced wildlife up-close in Central America. To be more exact: we traveled through Costa Rica. This post is not about travelling though. It is more about the coffee and the coffee culture in Costa Rica. Do you know how they traditionally prepare their coffee? If not, please go ahead and see how it is done.
The story behind
It all started in the 1700s when the first Arabica crops were brought to this beautiful country in Central America. The government soon realized the potential of this “new thing” and began developing the coffee industry. In the 1900s, they offered free land to anyone who showed interest in coffee farming in order to boost national production. By 1829, coffee became one of the most important sources of revenue (nowadays tourism is income source no. 1 and export of coffee is no. 2). However, Costa Rican coffee, as the world knows it, was never intended for Costa Rican use. The high quality beans are usually for export, so many people drink beverages brewed from lower quality beans.
Pro Tip: Behind the curtains
Touring a Costa Rican coffee plantation gives you many insights into the history of coffee and into the process of growing and harvesting the beans, roasting the beans and preparing a cup of coffee in the end. We did a tour in the Arenal area at North Fields Café. It was simply awesome! There is no better way to learn about coffee than straight from the source! If you did not know: Most of the beans are handpicked from the plant, because they care about what they do.
How they prepare and drink it
Costa Rica is a coffee mecca. Nevertheless, you might be disappointed here because the highest quality beans usually are exported and the locals have to use the lower quality beans for brewing coffee, in which they often add lots of sugar.
For brewing, they use a simple coffee making device called “chorreador”. A chorreador consists of a wooden stand that can accommodate a cloth coffee sock which hold the ground beans. Now you pour near-boiling water (boiling water can burn coffee grounds and create a bitter flavor) over it and let the brew filter into a container below. Enjoy!
More things to know about Costa Rican coffee
- Coffee has played an important role in Costa Rica since the 1700s
- Coffee drinkers might be disappointed because the coffee of best quality is usually exported and the locals tend to prefer their coffees weak and with lots of sugar.
- Production of coffee in Costa Rica is so important that laws have been passed to ensure high quality standards. Of course, you can plant also just one species. All coffee in Costa Rica has to be Arabica – it is illegal to grow anything else.
- If you have the chance, do a coffee tour at a plantation and learn directly from the source.
- Try “agua dulce”, a warm drink made from melted sugar cane