From Oxcart to Export: Costa Rica’s Steeped Coffee Culture

Food, Things to Do — By Sophia LaMonica on March 25, 2012 at 5:26 am

 Since 1779, Costa Rica has been producing its own coffee, primarily in the Central Valley around the capital city of San Jose, where soil conditions and climate are ideal for growing gourmet Arabica beans. On the Cafe Britt Coffee Tour, visitors learn about the variety of beans an the stages they go through from harvest to export.

Handpainted oxcart at the Cafe Britt plantation

  At the onset of the coffee boom, oxcarts were used to transport coffee beans from the farm to the rest of the country. The large, spokeless wheels cut through muddy paths well and became canvases painted bright colors with geometric starburst designs; today the oxcart is the national symbol of Costa Rica.

By the middle of the 19th century, coffee production had transformed the country’s colonial village economy to one of organized production and export on a larger scale, and it wasn’t long before coffee surpassed cacao, tobacco and sugar as the country’s main source of revenue.

Cafe Britt’s gourmet coffee beans are sorted carefully and classified by high standards; no bad beans should ever make the final cut.

Ripening coffee berries on the tree

Coffee thrives within a diverse canopy, and benefits from the presence of other species like cacao and eucalyptus trees. Natural methods are used to deter pests instead of toxic chemicals, such as three cup tower contraption hung from the branches of trees that captures flies who get drunk on cacique in the first cup and sink to the bottom cup where they get stuck. Cafe Britt’s coffee berries are harvested twice a year, but the trees require constant care and maintenance all year long.

Professional coffee tasting is called "cupping"

Cafe Britt’s gourmet coffee is prized for its distinct taste and high quality,  a tour includes an interactive “cupping” and professional tasting demonstration.

Photos: Flickr: RCF


Tags: Cafe Britt, coffee, Costa Rica, costa rica cacao, costa rica coffee tour, Sustainable, sustainable farm