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Costa Rica


ICO Member: copde n°5 - "other milds" group

Botanical species: Arabica

Bags: 69 kg jute

Flowering: from April to June

Harvest: from July to February

Harvesting method: picking

Shipment: from October to May

Shipment port: Puerto Limon, Puerto Caldera

Production: 1,5 milion bags


Coffee was introduced into Costa Rica in 1779, via Antilles and Cuba, and cultivated in Meseta Central, an area that includes the country´s capital, San José, and is perfect for the cultivation of coffee. It has a wet climate with between 2000 and 3000 mm annual rainfall and temperatures ranging from 17 to 28°C. The terrain is very fertile and rich in minerals due to the presence of the two active volcanoes Poas and Irazu.

The first known plantations date back to 1816 thanks to the Catholic missionary Father Félix Velarde from the church of Escazù - the first coffee cultivator in the country. Exports initiated in 1820 with two coffee quintals destined for Panama. The following year Costa Rica gains Independence from Spain and the forward-looking policies of the Heads of State that followed in subsequent years proved crucial in the development and cultivation of coffee. The most noteworthy measures include the following:

  • 1821: the town of San José distributed free coffee plants to residents

  • 1825: the government decided to make coffee exempt from annual tax on agricultural products

  • 1831: the National Assembly decreed that anyone who cultivated coffee for five consecutive years on a vacant lot could claim the land for themselves.

In 1832, coffee began to be marketed to Chile; where it was re-bagged and shipped to England under the brand “Café Chileno de Valparaíso”. The first consignment, 500 tonnes, was shipped in 1843 directly to England. Relations with Britain later strengthened; the English invested heavily in the Costa Rican coffee market and remained its most important customers until the end of the Second World War. Revenue generated by the coffee industry enabled the creation of diverse infrastructures and very important works for the country, including: the Ferrocarril al Atlántico the first railway to connect the Central Valley to the Atlantic coast, and the National Theatre of San Josè.

A sizeable portion of revenues from the coffee trade were reinvested to make irrigation systems more efficient, the purchase of fertilizers and sophisticated technical equipment for the processing and sorting of the product. This is what gives Costa Rica nowadays the highest yield in terms of farmland, at 1,566 kg per hectare.

 

CURIOSITY

Costa Rica is the only country worldwide that has legally banned the cultivation of varieties that do not fall under the Arabica species, pursuant to a decree from 4th December 1989. Furthermore, the use of a cultivar such as Catimor, from the coffea Arabica but of a decidedly inferior quality, is advised against.


CAFETALERA TOURNON

In 1850, Hyppolite Tournon began working in Bordeaux at the shipping company “Le Quellec”, whose ships crossed the Atlantic to market different raw materials with Latin America. After five years, Tournon founded the company “Le Quellec & Tournon” together with his employer. It was a type of sales agency based in Costa Rica, importing European products and exporting coffee. In 1859, the company began to specialize in the processing of coffee but the shipowner did not want to engage in further activity, leading to the birth of CAFETALERA TOURNON LIMITADA. The old 5 Colones banknotes depict coffee picking, the French flag in the background is said to belong to one of the company´s clippers.

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