QCOSTARICA – The next time you buy Costa Rica coffee in Costa Rica it may not be Costa Rican coffee. Say what?
Coffee production has played a key role in Costa Rica’s history and continues to be important to the country’s economy. But, to meet the local demand, the country has to import coffee.
According to the National Chamber of Coffee Roasters (Cámara Nacional de Tostadores), this year they will import about 11,500 tons or 250,000 (46kg or quintals) bags for domestic consumption.
This despite Costa Rica harvesting some two million bags a year.
The reason for the import is that the higher grades of coffee are exported, getting better prices on international markets.
As of February 1, according to the Instituto del Café de Costa Rica (Icafé) – Coffee Institute of Costa Rica – the average price for a quintal (46kg) of the 2015-2016 harvest exported was US$186.66, while in the local market, the average was US$122.15.
José Manuel Hernando, president of the National Chamber of Coffee Roasters, said the coffee is imported mostly from Honduras, but also Nicaragua.
Bringing in coffee from abroad for local consumption, is still cheaper for roasters, even with the payment of a 15% tariff on imports.
Edgar Rojas, deputy executive director of Icafé, said roasters may purchase Costa Rica’s superior qualities, but they have to compete against export prices.
Costa Rica Coffee
Costa Rican coffee beans are considered among the best in the world. Tarrazú is thought to produce the most desirable coffee beans in Costa Rica. In 2012, Tarrazú Geisha coffee became the most expensive coffee sold by Starbucks in 48 of their stores in the United States, using the Clover automated French press.
Coffee production in the country began in 1779 in the Meseta Central which had ideal soil and climate conditions for coffee plantations. Coffea arabica first imported to Europe through Arabia, whence it takes its name, was introduced to the country directly from Ethiopia.
Coffee was vital to the Costa Rican economy by the early to mid-20th Century. Leading coffee growers were prominent members of society. Growers and traders of the coffee industry transformed the Costa Rican economy, and contributed to modernization in the country.
The revenue generated by the coffee industry in Costa Rica funded the first railroads linking the country to the Atlantic Coast in 1890, the “Ferrocarril al Atlántico”. The National Theater itself in San José is a product of the first coffee farmers in the country.
Source: La Nacion; Wikipedia