Costa Rica Coffee History
Costa Rica is one of the top producers of coffee, and, as their number three export, is incredibly important to the country’s economy. Arabica coffee was first introduced to the country directly from Ethiopia in the late 1770’s. Like many countries’ governments, the Costa Rican government encouraged farming by offering plots of land to farmers who wanted to grow and harvest the plants. By 1829, coffee production was a larger source of revenue than tobacco, cacao, and sugar cane. Today, many Nicaraguan immigrants are often employed as seasonal workers on plantations to harvest coffee during peak seasons.
While Costa Rican beans are considered to be some of the highest quality in the world, beans from the Tarrazú region are the best of the best. Oscar and Francisca Chacon are the owners and operators of the Cumbres del Poas farm, and are the first to have a certified organic micro mill. Their incredible passion for producing the best coffee and dedication to perfecting every step of the process shows in the superior quality of their honey processed beans.
Honey processed coffee is unique in that while the skin and pulp are removed from the cherry, the mucilage, a sugary, sticky outer layer, is retained during the drying stage. This mucilage is sometimes called “honey”, which is why this process is called Honey Process. Honey processed coffees are significantly less acidic than washed or natural/sun dried coffees and have much more character and sweetness than traditional fully washed coffees.
Farmers have begun to assign colors to each honey process. Colors are assigned to indicate the amount of sunlight each cherry is exposed to, yellow being the most and black being the least. Yellow honey coffees are usually dried in the sun for around a week, red honey is dried for two to three weeks, usually in the shade, and black honey is exposed to as little light as possible and must dry for at least two weeks. The longer the dry time, the more fruit-forward the end result tastes.
Image Credit: McKay Savage