Coffee from Costa Rica is considered to be some of the best around the world. With a well-established coffee industry and excellent growing conditions, it’s not surprising that Costa Rica is a country that consistently produces high-quality coffee beans. This country has a rich coffee culture that is just as exciting and has just as much variety as any of the other major coffee-producing nations.
Costa Rica Coffee Growing Conditions
Despite being a relatively small country compared to others, there are eight different coffee-growing regions in Costa Rica, providing a level of diversity that makes it stand out from other countries. These coffee regions are:
Tarrazu: Southwest of San Jose, the capital, Tarrazu is one of the best-known regions for growing Costa Rica coffee and is where 35% of coffee is grown. It is located in the center of the country on the slopes of the Quepos Mountains, and has a high altitude of 3900-5500 feet, which makes it perfect for producing great coffee. The coffees from this region are high in acidity with chocolate and honey notes.
Brunca: Most of this area produces coffee that is grown at lower altitudes, although there are some higher farms that produce specialty coffee. The high humidity levels of this region lead to coffee that has a subtler, lighter flavor with notes of orange flower and jasmine.
Central Valley: This land has various different altitudes, from 2900-5200 feet. Well-balanced with notes of honey and chocolate is the general flavor profile of coffee from this region, with factors such as acidity and intensity varying depending on where exactly the beans were produced.
Western Valley: Despite being a single coffee growing region, the flavor profiles of beans grown in Western Valley can vary depending on the farm, as the area has lots of different microclimates. The Western Valley is home to some of Costa Rica’s award-winning coffee beans.
Tres Rios: While this is one of the best-known coffee growing regions in Costa Rica, only two percent of the coffee in this country is actually grown here. The climate and environment here is perfect for growing coffee since the soil is rich in ash due to the nearby Irazu Volcano. You can expect coffee grown here to be very full-bodied with rich chocolate and fruity flavors.
Guanacaste, Orosi, and Turrialba: Around 5% of Costa Rica’s coffee comes from these three different regions, all of which are lower altitudes. The coffee beans in Turrialba in particular have a light, smoky taste as a result of ash from the nearby volcano.
Costa Rica Coffee Processing Methods
Coffee beans are usually processed in one of two ways: Natural or washed.
In washed processing, which is also known as ‘wet’ processing, the fruit flesh is fully removed from the beans before they are tried. This results in a brighter, more acidic coffee where the bean itself provides the flavor. Most often, this method is used for processing Central American coffee beans such as Guatemala coffee.
On the other hand, dry or natural processing leaves coffee cherries in their natural state without removing any of the flesh from the beans. They are dried in this state, and the flesh from the fruit adds more taste to the coffee throughout this process, which results in a richer, fruitier flavor. After drying, the pulp is removed.
Costa Rica coffee beans are often processed using another method, known as honey processing. The way this works is somewhere in between natural processing and washed processing. Some of the fruit is left on the beans throughout the processes of fermenting and drying. The beans are known as either yellow, red, or black honey depending on how much pulp is left on the beans afterwards. Black honey beans are sweet and rich, yellow beans are more aromatic and mildly sweet, and red honey beans are fruitier.
Best Costa Rican Coffee Options
What is the best Costa Rican coffee? Now that you know more about Costa Rica’s coffee growing industry and how the coffee beans are processed, you might want to try some Costa Rican coffee beans or Costa Rican instant coffee for yourself. You can get Costa coffee on Amazon or from other retailers. Some of the best Costa Rican coffee brands to try include:
Peet’s Costa Rica
If you like a dark roast, this is ideal for you. Like many dark roasted coffees, it is lower in acid, but has some citrus notes that brighten the full-bodied, smoky flavor profile. When roasting Costa Rican coffee, a light roast is often the ideal choice for the best flavor. Peet’s offer a range of single-origin Costa Rica coffees along with using the coffee beans in many of their blends.
Oren’s Costa Rica La Minita
In the Tarrazy growing region of Costa Rica, Hacienda La Minita is one of the most famous estates and is one of the first coffees worldwide to be branded as single estates. This farm grows and harvests coffee beans using a very careful and meticulous process, with only the best 18% of the crop being given the La Minitia label. This coffee from Oren’s is a medium roasted, full-bodied, and bright coffee with notes of milk chocolate, honey and plum that leave a lingering, sweet aftertaste.
Fresh Roasted Costa Rican Coffee Beans
If you want a budget-friendly option when it comes to making coffee with the unique Tarrazu beans, this could be the ideal option for you. These coffee beans are medium-bodied and very flavorful, making them a perfect choice for espresso, if you want to use an espresso machine from Breville for Costa Rica coffee. As is characteristic of Costa Rican coffees, they are acidic and bright, but also offer a deep sweetness with chocolate and honey notes. Despite the low price, you can be assured that these coffee beans are still ethical. On the farms, all workers are provided with accommodations, insurance, and medical services throughout the production process.
Volcania Costa Rica Peaberry
If you are looking for the best single-origin coffee from Costa Rica, these unique beans could be perfect for you. They are harvested from a single estate in the region of Tres Rios, which is well known for producing coffees that are sweet and mild. These coffee beans are grown on the Aquiares Estate which is at an altitude of 5200 feet. All beans grown here are shade-grown and certified by the Rainforest Alliance. Smaller and denser compared to other coffee beans, they have a flavor that is noticeably sweeter with notes of honey and lemon that offer brightness, along with nutty almond notes to add more depth.
Coffee Bean Direct Costa Rican Tarrazu
Tarrazu coffee that is lightly roasted gives the coffee beans a better chance of retaining the fresh, acidic flavor that it is best known for. These coffee beans offer a complex, sweet flavor profile with notes of honey, milk chocolate, and fruity lemon. It is a very smooth and well-balanced coffee that works especially well with cold brew. You can purchase them online from Coffee Bean Direct, which is an online-only business that ships directly to customers, meaning that the beans are fresher since they don’t need to be shipped to and stocked in stores first.
Café Britt Costa Rican Origins Coffee Bundle
If you’re looking for a product that is going to provide you with an ideal introduction to the world of coffee from Costa Rica, Café Britt is your best option. This company specializes in Costa Rican coffee and have been based in the country for over three decades. This pack of three different coffees highlights the great variety in flavors that you will get from the three most famous coffee-growing regions in Costa Rica. They are all single-origin beans that have been medium roasted to balance the bright acidity and intensity. Poas-grown beans offer a fruity and earthy flavor and aroma that this region is known for, while coffee from Tarrazu is more acidic, with notes of sweet chocolate and contrasting citrusy flavors. The Tres Rios beans have a more elegant flavor profile, including notes of stone fruit, citrus, and spices.
Acid Content in Costa Rican Coffee
Coffee from Costa Rica tends to be higher in acid compared to coffee from other countries such as Costa Rica vs Ethiopian coffee due to the high altitudes at which it is typically grown in this country. However, that being said, Costa Rican coffee does offer a lot of variety and if you prefer a cup that is lower in acid, there are coffees that are grown at lower altitudes. For a low-acid Costa Rica coffee, consider beans grown in Turrialba or Guanacaste.
Costa Rica has been known for its production of coffee since the 1800s. While coffee has been grown in this country since all the way back in the late 1700s, it wasn’t until 1820 that Costa Rica started exporting coffee to other nations. Today, coffee makes up over ten percent of all earnings in Costa Rica.