You have probably heard about the famous Costa Rican coffee. A drink that can easily make the others be forgotten, as it’s so great. Something that is mentioned along with Colombian coffee.
Well, it’s time to learn about this spectacular beverage.
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Costa Rican Coffee Origin
First of all, let’s talk about the effects of the climate.
We all know that caffeine is supposed to be a repellent for bugs and insects. Therefore, the more pests in an area, the more caffeine in the plant. And what kinds of climates have the most of them? Warm ones, correct.
So what you can take away from that, is the fact that Costa Rican coffee beans have a ton of caffeine in them. This makes them the perfect choice for those who need a drink that boosts them in the morning.
But the coffee beans differ from region to region within Costa Rica. The best ones that have a perfect body and aroma can be found in the West Valley, Tarrazu, and Cartago. Although they have high acidity, so you might want to settle for lower quality beans. Something from Orosí can work for you as it has a balanced amount of acidity but still has a good body and aroma.
Other coffee beans from Costa Rica aren’t worth trying though, as they are below average, but are still advertised as being as good as the rest. And their price is almost the same, so you’re better off buying higher quality.
Costa Rican Quality Above Quantity
It is a small country, Costa Rica. Therefore they can’t produce as much coffee as others. So instead of trying to fit as many coffee plants as possible, Costa Rica decided to raise the quality of its product. Now their value can easily outweigh other kinds of coffee, even though Costa Rica produces less than 1% of the world’s coffee.
This is mostly because of the way the plants are grown. Many are planted at higher altitudes, where it takes longer for them to grow. But in return, they have a much better and richer flavor profile. Although this raises their price, most people don’t care, as they think this perfect kind of coffee is worth it. You can’t find these kinds of flavors anywhere else in the world. Check out “Best Coffee Brands from Costa Rica” for more on the best brands you can find out of Costa Rica.
Fun fact: Costa Rica focuses on quality so much that it’s illegal to grow any other coffee plant than Arabica. If you go against this law, then you can get a hefty fine.
How Costa Ricans Process the Beans
The way the beans are processed is a vital element. It’s the core reason why people like Costa Rican coffee so much. There are three methods. All of them have a different result, so you won’t be able to have the full Costa Rican experience if you only try one.
Before going to that, check out “Ultimate Guide to Roasting Your Own Coffee” for tips on roasting your brew at home.
Costa Rican washed coffee
This is, by far the most popular way to process coffee. That’s mostly because it focuses on the beans, eliminating other factors from interfering with the flavor (such as the cherry itself).
The way these process works is quite simple. The cherries are forcibly removed by water. Then they get any leftover fruit off with machines. All that’s left is the coffee bean itself. Then it’s a straight road towards a coffee machine. Did you know that coffee is fruit? Check out “How Come Coffee is a Fruit?”
This usually results in a mild taste, but the flavor profile is quite rich in washed beans. They typically taste honey and milk chocolate. It also has a bright fruit character that pops out while drinking coffee. Unfortunately, the washing usually takes out a lot of the beans flavor-wise.
Washed coffee could be a lot more intense, but most of that aroma is washed out, which is why a lot of people prefer the two other processes.
Costa Rican Natural coffee (otherwise known as dry coffee)
This one is the original basic process of preparing coffee beans, first used by Ethiopians. It’s the most cost-effective way, and it also does the least amount of damage to the environment.
This is because the process is quite simple and doesn’t require anything. Once the coffee cherries are picked, the fruit is left on and placed out in the sun. Of course, this requires certain weather conditions, as the fruit can go wrong if the process isn’t done well. Also, it needs to be completed on time.
Unfortunately, over time, this process started becoming associated with low quality. That’s mostly because unripe fruit can easily stay in the batch and will make the flavor inconsistent. Although, it’s slowly starting to make a comeback. A lot of people say that this process is how you get the most flavor out of the beans. You need to get rid of the inconsistency.
It has a syrupy body that perfectly complements the flavors (like berries, citrus, and grape) it possesses. If you have a sweet tooth, then these coffees will become your favorite, especially once they have been perfected.
Check out coffee from another region in “Best Coffee Brands From Guatemala“. What does coffee taste like in Guatemala? Find out.
Costa Rican Honey coffee
The name can be quite misleading, as this process doesn’t have much to do with honey. Instead, it deals with the coffee cherry.
This method doesn’t have one specific way to be done. If you ask locals, then you will likely receive vastly different answers. But the most common way can easily be explained, as it’s quite simple.
With the honey process, you can create 3 “degrees.” Yellow, red and black, although these colors don’t represent the reality (except maybe for yellow, but even that is rare). In most mills, these degrees are achieved by the amount they reduce the cherry. The word “honey” refers to what the cherry becomes after drying.
For yellow you need to take off most of the mucilage, for red you need to take off about half and for red you need to leave all of it for black although some people prefer to leave everything on and alter the color during the next phase.
The latter method works smoothly. The longer you leave the beans to dry, the darker the fruit’s color becomes.
The next phase is eliminating all moisture from the fruit. This part is the same as the drying process, which means that the beans are placed out in the sun and left.
Then all that’s left is to take off the fruit.
Honey processed coffees tend to have more complex flavors, but they are nowhere near as fruity as the others.
Costa Rican Coffee Health Concerns
This is not a common occurrence though, and even when it happens, they usually catch the mold before it can get to consumers. Well, if they are lucky.
When they aren’t, and the infected product gets to consumers, it can cause several issues. If you aren’t sensitive or allergic to mold, then you will likely get off the hook unharmed, as it doesn’t cause any noticeable things in people like you. But those who don’t take it so well can suffer from throat irritation, stuffy nose, and coughing. These don’t seem all that bad, but if they are exposed to mold for a more extended amount of time, then it can get more serious. The entire respiratory system can be affected.
All you need to do is check your coffee beans before use. If they are ground up already, then you need to take a look in the bag, if not, then it’s better if you take out a handful. No weird spots? You’re good to go! Odd spots? Contact the seller and tell them about it. They will be glad you notified them.
Everybody should try it. There’s no doubt about that. But if you want to get the full experience then make sure you buy one of each kind, as they are all part of this coffee kind. And all of them are worth a try.
Have you tried Costa Rican coffee before? How was the experience? Tell us down in the comments! Check out coffee from other regions around the world like “Everything You Need To Know About Turkish Coffee” or “What is French Roast Coffee?“.
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We’ll brew ya later!