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Costa Rica Coffee: The Basics and Best Roasters

costa rica coffee growing mountains

When it comes to coffee, Costa Rica is one of the best places to source your beans. Famous for fruity beans, the country is home to eight stunning coffee production regions. Visiting Costa Rica to try the coffee first-hand? Maybe you want to be transported to a mountainous retreat with your morning brew? Either way, a cup of Costa Rica coffee will do the trick.

Here, you’ll learn all about Costa Rica coffee. We’ll cover the basics including where the coffee is harvested. Plus, we’ll help you understand the complex flavor profiles. After reading, you’re sure to fall in love with one of the coffees here. Read on to find out more about the Costa Rica coffee growing regions plus varietals and discover some of the best roasters.

The Basics of Costa Rica Coffee

Costa Rica coffee cart with bags of coffee

Costa Rican coffee is among the tastiest in the world. The country adheres to a strict focus on quality and eco-friendly production. The Ticos — Costa Rican natives — take great pride in their high-quality beans. They also focus on sustainable growing methods. The region offers coffee with various certifications including Fair Trade, organic, and rainforest safe brews. All this hard work and dedication results in some of the best-tasting coffee on the planet. Read on to learn more about the basics of Costa Rica coffee including where it’s cultivated and what it tastes like.

Only High-Quality Arabica

All of the coffee produced in Costa Rica is made with 100% arabica beans. And by all, we truly mean all — it’s illegal to grow robusta beans in the country, though in 2018 the government began exploring lifting the ban due to climate change and growing concerns. Most coffee producers in Costa Rica stick firmly by only using high-quality arabica coffee beans for the best coffee flavor.

If you’ve read our site before, you know that we rave about arabica. That’s because it’s the highest quality coffee bean available. Arabica beans are harder to grow, but they produce a fuller-bodied and more complex tasting profile compared to robusta beans. They also have a higher acidity, making them the preferred choice among strong coffee drinkers.

High-Altitude Climate

Located in Central America, most of Costa Rica’s coffee-growing regions are in the high mountains. These high-altitude regions have heavy rainfall, mild temperatures, and few pests that can decimate crops. The temperature stays consistent year-round and the clearly defined rainy and dry seasons make it easy for farmers to ensure crops get enough water but don’t become oversaturated.

Growing Regions and Varietals

Coffee is grown in eight different regions throughout the country. These include the famous Tres Rios, Brunca, and Tarrazu regions. Costa Rica coffee is also grown in Valle Occidental, Turrialba, Orosi, Valle Central, and Guanacaste. Among these regions, Tarrazu coffee is among the best and is the largest growing region in the nation. Close to San Jose, it features primary varietals such as Caturra, Catuai, Sarchimor, and Mondo Novo.

Tasting Profile

Costa Rican coffee tasting notes vary depending on the region where it’s grown. Costa Rican Tarrazu coffee features bright acidity, full-body, and a complex flavor profile including honey, chocolate, dates, and malt tasting notes. Coffee from the Tres Rios region features sweet chocolate notes and fruity flavors. It also boasts a strong aroma, making it one of the more delicious coffees to enjoy with all of your senses. Naranjo coffee from Valle Central has balanced acidity with hints of cocoa, honey, nuts, and citrus fruits. 

The flavors of the Costa Rican beans also vary depending on the type of roast. Producers offer everything from airy light roast coffees to robust medium roast and dark roast coffees.

Volcanic Soils

Many of these mountainous regions feature high concentrations of volcanic soils. These soils lend a deeper and richer flavor to the coffee. Volcanic soil is high in minerals that help support plant growth, but the slopes of volcanoes also create great drainage and runoff for the plants. The nutrient-dense soil doesn’t just help plants grow faster, it also imparts better flavor and more intricate tasting notes. Volcanic-grown coffees also tend to have a smoother and softer finish compared to other coffees. 

The Best Costa Rican Coffees and Coffee Roasters

Costa Rica coffee grower holding coffee cherries

It’s hard — maybe even impossible — to find a bad cup of Costa Rican coffee. The growers pay extremely close attention to using quality beans and cultivating them in rich volcanic soils and mountainous regions. That results in great-tasting coffee no matter what varietal or region you source your coffee from. Whether you want to visit a roaster in Costa Rica or are looking to bring Costa Rica coffee into your own home, there are several companies to choose from. Below, you’ll find some of the most famous Costa Rica coffee roasters.

La Minita

La Minita offers coffees from around the globe, including some incredible Costa Rica coffee options. In addition to three large farms (La Minita, La Pradera, and Rio Negro), they also manage two wet and dry mills where they purchase coffee from more than 1,000 local farmers in Costa Rica.

Cafe Britt

Cafe Britt is legendary in the Costa Rican coffee industry. If you’ve ever visited Costa Rica, you’ve likely tried their coffees in restaurants and hotels or seen them on the shelves in souvenir shops. They have one of the largest and most diverse offerings of single-origin Costa Rican coffee. This includes several types of coffee such as whole bean coffee, espresso coffee, gourmet coffee, freshly roasted coffee, and ground coffee. They source coffee from producers that hand-pick beans and only use the highest quality beans in their offerings. 

Volcanica Coffee Costa Rican Peaberry

Volcanica Coffee offers more than 150 types of coffee from growing regions across the globe including in Costa Rica. They source their Costa Rican Peaberry coffee from the Aquiares estate in the Tres Rios region. The shade-grown coffee is cultivated at high altitudes and has a flavor profile with hints of lemon and almond. In addition to the Peaberry coffee, they also offer Tarrazu decaf coffee, La Candelilla coffee, and Geisha coffee from Costa Rica.

Discover Great-Tasting Coffee

coffee cherries on a plant in the mountains

Coffee lovers will love exploring the various flavors of Costa Rica coffee. Harvested in high-altitude growing regions rich in volcanic soils and temperate climates, these little coffee beans are truly magical. From the complex flavors of Costa Rica Tarrazu to citrus fruit-rich Naranjo coffee, Costa Rica delivers the goods with its high-quality coffees.

Keep browsing our Cup & Bean blog to learn more about coffee and discover the best-tasting coffee options. From pour-over coffees to French press brews and espressos, you’re sure to find something to love. New to coffee tasting? Start by exploring our guide to the different types of coffee. You’ll learn more about the different coffee drinks and what to order depending on your taste preferences. You can also learn more about coffee bean nutrition or browse the archives to discover coffee from other growing regions across the globe.