What is the history of coffee in Costa Rica?

Gepubliceerd op 22 maart 2024 om 15:48

Origins of a Bean

Our story begins in the early 18th century when coffee first found its way to the fertile soils of Costa Rica. With its ideal climate and terrain, Costa Rica quickly became a haven for coffee cultivation.

18th Century - Introduction to the Americas

  • Around 1720, the first seeds of Coffea Arabica, Typica variety, arrived on the island of Martinique in the Caribbean, likely marking the introduction of coffee to the Americas.
  • Towards the end of the 18th century, these coffee seeds were planted in Costa Rica, likely marking the beginning of coffee cultivation in the region.

Early 19th Century - Establishment of Coffee Cultivation (1808-1821)

  • From 1808 onwards, coffee cultivation began to take root in Costa Rica, significantly impacting the country's agricultural landscape.
  • Costa Rica became the first Central American country to establish a flourishing coffee industry.
  • The first coffee plantation was reportedly located north of the Metropolitan Cathedral in San José.
  • Favorable factors such as volcanic soils, a distinct rainy and dry season, and consistent temperatures year-round facilitated the successful establishment of coffee plantations.
  • Following independence in 1821, municipal governments played a key role in promoting coffee cultivation by offering incentives such as plant distribution and land concessions
  • 1821: The Municipality of San José distributes coffee plants for free among its residents.
  • Mid 1821, Costa Rica had 17,000 coffee plants in production, with the first export of 2 quintals of coffee to Panama occurring in 1820.
  • 1831: The National Assembly decrees that anyone cultivating coffee for five years on unclaimed land could claim it as their own.

1830s - First Exports and Development (1832-1846)

  • 1832: George Stiepel, trading with England, makes the first coffee sale through Chile.
  • 1840s: William Lacheur arrives in Caldera and purchases coffee from Santiago Fernández Hidalgo, a prominent coffee grower.
  • 1845: Lacheur returns with money and more ships, establishing Fernández as the first exporter of Costa Rican coffee to Europe.
  • Completion of the road to Puntarenas in 1846 revolutionized coffee trade.
  • The use of carts instead of mules eased transportation.
  • Coffee became Costa Rica's sole export product until 1890.

Pioneers and Innovators

But it wasn't just about growing beans—Costa Ricans were innovators in the coffee industry. They embraced new techniques, such as honey processing, to enhance the quality of their crop. 

Challenges and Resilience

Of course, no journey is without its bumps along the road. Costa Rica faced its fair share of challenges, from economic downturns to devastating diseases that threatened coffee crops. But through resilience and ingenuity, farmers persevered, adapting to changing times while staying true to their craft.

From Farm to Cup

Today, Costa Rican coffee stands as a testament to centuries of tradition and passion. From the misty peaks of Tarrazú to the sun-drenched fields of Guanacaste, every cup tells a story of hard work and dedication.

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