Coffee first came to Costa Rica directly from Ethiopia in 1779. With an eye toward the future, in 1808 governor Tomas de Acosta began promoting the cultivation of coffee. In 1821, after Costa Rican independence from Spain, the Costa Rican government doubled-down by offering free land to anyone who would grow coffee, creating Central America’s first true coffee industry. Soon after, Costa Rica’s first coffee mill was built. Shortly thereafter, profits from coffee built the National Theater and the first railroad linking the Caribbean to the Atlantic, which in turn helped all of Costa Rica’s primarily agrarian economy.
Costa Rica’s coffee market, like so many other mid-sized coffee nations, is subject to fluxuations in international pricing, deeply influenced by Brazil’s annual production. In 1989, Costa Rica joined with Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador to establish a Central American coffee retention plan, helping stabilize a volatile world coffee market whose pricing was in decline though the early 2000’s. Around the same time, small farm cooperatives began to develop, establishing stable economic models through Fair Trade agreements, with over 45,000 small farms currently participating.
Costa Rica is currently the world’s 13th largest coffee producer. It is also home to some of the finest coffee beans on the earth with a reputation for complex, bright and beautifully developed coffee that regularly score at the very top in international competition.