(Editor’s Note – This original post from December 2009 has been updated to reflect current Costa Rica vacation details.)
Coffee is one of the most important sectors in the Costa Rican economy, rivaled only by tourism and various other agricultural products.
Did you know that Costa Rica Coffee now accounts for more than 10% of the country’s export business and Costa Rica ranks number thirteen out of the Top 20 coffee producing countries?
In fact hundreds of thousands of Costa Ricans are employed in the Costa Rica coffee industry; from planting, growing and harvesting to processing and exporting Costa Rica coffee.
Taking a coffee plantation tour is at the top of most coffee loving tourist’ lists when visiting Costa Rica. Even those who don’t drink coffee find the guided tours are very informative and interesting.
Taking a Costa Rica Coffee Plantation Tour
When researching various Costa Rica coffee plantation tours you will likely notice how the rapid growth in Costa Rica coffee production has also benefited the Costa Rica tourism industry.
In fact Costa Ricans take great pride in sharing their knowledge of coffee. Costa Rican coffee is generally described as “brightly acidic” and “full-bodied” and tourists get to enjoy firsthand the tasting and sampling of the finest of Costa Rica coffees.
Government regulations restrict coffee production to only Arabica coffees (Arabica coffee beans are superior, are a better quality and taste better than lower grown Robusta beans) and many of these Arabica coffee producers now offer Costa Rican coffee plantation tours.
While on your Caravan Costa Rica tour, you’ll enjoy a coffee plantation tour conducted by expert guides who offer a brief overview of Costa Rica coffee history and the Costa Rica coffee industry.
Learn About the History of Coffee Cooperatives Costa Rica
Not only does the Costa Rica coffee industry help drive the current economy, but it also holds a significant place in the nation’s history, dating back to 1779.
Costa Rica began exporting coffee as early as 1821. Information from the Consortium of Coffee Cooperatives of Guanacaste & Montes de Oro (COOCAFE) indicates that Costa Rica was the “first country in Central America to register coffee exports.”
COOCAFE was formed just over two decades ago, beginning as an organization made up of small grower/producer cooperatives. Almost half of today’s coffee production in Costa Rica comes from farmers who manage five hectares or less. Of the 72,000+ Costa Rica coffee growers more than 60% belong to cooperatives.
One of the primary benefits of COOCAFE, as a grouping of smaller cooperatives, is the ability to pool funds. A loan fund has been established that provides operation loans to member cooperatives at a low interest rate.
See Costa Rica Coffee Production as it Happens
Visitors find the historical details of coffee fascinating. Well-trained guides and coffee experts are also able to paint a picture of how the coffee plant grows from a small seed to the full-grown plant. They explain that coffee beans are the fruit of the plant, and emphasize that the beans must be handpicked and processed carefully to produce the best coffee possible.
Individual workers drop the ripe coffee “berries” into a basket carried at their waist. The bean is then removed from a protective coating called a “husk” before being washed, dried, and hand sorted.
With some larger operations visitors can see newer machinery that was introduced to handle much of the work of coffee processing, but for the most part, Costa Rica coffee is still picked and processed by hand.
The Most Popular Coffee Plantations in Costa Rica
Although the number of large Costa Rica coffee growers is very small, they still produce one-third of Costa Rican coffee due to the size of their operations.
The largest producer of Costa Rican coffee is Café Britt, a company near San Jose and Heredia that offers guided Costa Rica coffee plantation tours. A number of other brands are produced here as well, including Doka and Café Volio.
Some plantations have established organic processes in recent years, eliminating the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Experience a Costa Rica Coffee Plantation Tour with Caravan Tours
Currently a guided coffee plantation tour is included in all of Caravan’s Natural Paradise Tours in Costa Rica. See growing Costa Rican coffee plants, taste freshly brewed Costa Rican coffee, and buy your Costa Rica coffee beans directly from the grower!
For just one low Caravan tour price you’ll enjoy 8 full days of great Costa Rica activities and attractions throughout the country. Read more Costa Rica tour reviews to see what others have said about this fully escorted tour of Costa Rica.
Read our Caravan Costa Rica FAQ page and call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to book your Costa Rican holiday today.