Home to some of the most prized coffee in the world, Costa Rica has a flourishing coffee industry dating back to the early 17th century.
Today, you can find Costa Rican coffee in every grocery store and cafe from Los Angeles to Tokyo and everywhere in between.
As one of the largest producers of coffee in the world, Costa Rica exports around 1.5 million bags of coffee yearly. That’s about 225 million pounds of coffee!
Quick Costa Rican Coffee Facts
● There are a wide variety of processing methods in the coffee industry but Costa Rica is best known for using three main methods: the washed process, honey process, and dry process (also known as the natural process).
● There are two main species of coffee: arabica and robusta. Robusta is known for being easier to grow but often lesser in quality than Arabica. In 1989, Costa Rica banned growing low-quality Robusta coffee beans within the country.
● There are eight growing regions in Costa Rica that are known for producing high-quality coffee at a sizeable amount.
● Coffee came from Africa in the late 1700s.
Costa Rica was the first nation in Central and South America to receive and begin to grow coffee commercially.
Coffee Regions in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is home to not one but eight different growing regions.
Coffee can certainly be grown almost anywhere in Costa Rica but these eight regions are known for their excellent conditions.
The best quality coffee requires a temperate, tropical environment with high altitudes and healthy soil.
Of the eight growing regions in Costa Rica, perhaps the most well-known is Tarrazu.
The Tarrazu Region
The most notable growing region in all of Costa Rica is the Tarrazu region.
Pronounced “tar-rah-zoo”, Tarrazu is also known as “Los Santos” to the locals due to the number of small towns that are named after saints.
The region itself is fairly close in proximity to the capital city of San Jose, making this a convenient stop for exporting and tourism.
Like most of Costa Rica, Tarrazu is subject to two dominant seasons: the rainy season and the dry season.
Contrary to many regions in the northern hemispheres, the dry season stretches from December through April whereas the rainy season covers the summer months through November.
The region’s harvest season coincides with the dry season for obvious reasons and spans November to March. The rest of the year is dedicated to nurturing existing crops and growing future seedlings.
This region is incredibly rich in agriculture and, despite its small size, eco-tourism, specifically coffee tourism.
Coffee Tourism in Costa Rica
Coffee tourism in Costa Rica covers a wide range of possibilities.
From farm tours to boutique roasters and more, you can explore coffee’s journey from seed to cup.
You can experience the immense effort it takes to grow coffee, help with a harvest, or simply enjoy a variety of coffees at your leisure.
The choice is yours!
Coffee farms offer a variety of exciting and educational experiences. Not all farms are open to the public so be sure to check prior to your visit.
Farms that are open to the public generally offer tours to visitors, as well as coffee tastings.
The tours usually consist of learning about the coffee growing journey from seedling through to the processing methods used at that farm.
Some farms even allow visitors to participate in farm activities including the annual harvesting of the coffee plants or turning of the beans during the fermentation process.
If you find yourself craving more knowledge on the coffee roasting process, visiting a roaster instead of or in addition to a coffee farm is also an option!
Likewise, shorter stops at coffee shops can be a rewarding experience all of their own.
Try stopping in at farm’s coffee stands in lieu of the entire tour if you find yourself short on time!
Top 10 Costa Rica Coffee Experiences
Arguably the most tourist-friendly and familiar, the Starbucks’ coffee farm of Hacienda Alsacia is located on the slopes of the Póas Volcano.
Home to a variety of amenities, you can spend an entire day at this location without any discomfort. It is also a convenient 45 minutes from San José.
One of the most well-known coffee experiences in Costa Rica is the Café Britt tour.
This tour is all-encompassing and will lead you through the details of growing coffee in Costa Rica, including the culture.
While offered through an all-inclusive resort state, this charming tour is also available directly from the farm.
Whether by Jeep or by horseback, you will cross small streams and rolling foothills to get to this gorgeous diversified farm.
Explore the flavors of coffee, cacao, and sugarcane.
The Don Juan coffee tour in the Monteverde region is unique in that it offers a 3-in-1 experience.
During this tour, you will explore the intricacies of the coffee, chocolate, and sugarcane industries – quite the culinary adventure!
This particular coffee estate is historically unique and offers more than a simple coffee tour.
The Doka Estate, located on the slopes of the Póas Volcano, is home to not only coffee but also sugarcane.
While still family-run, this estate is one of the largest in all of Costa Rica and also boasts the oldest coffee mill, according to UNESCO.
Located in the popular growing region of Naranjo, Hacienda Espíritu Santo offers one the closest tours to San José.
This tour focuses on seven stages of the coffee bean, leading you through each one as you enjoy coffee brewed in traditional Costa Rican style.
Running 3 times a day, the tours at Café Monteverde follow the coffee bean’s journey from seed to cup.
The tours operate out of their gorgeous diversified farm that is home to a variety of livestock and other crops in addition to coffee.
While this experience is not a coffee tour at a farm or plantation, this cafe in San José is extremely important to coffee in Costa Rica.
This is one of the first specialty coffee shops in the city to be internationally recognized.
If you are flying in or out of San Jose, make a stop at this delightful cafe for a taste of all that Costa Rica has to offer.
The North Fields coffee tour is a much smaller farm than many on this list.
The tour itself is incredibly rich for the size of the operation, offering an in-depth look into both coffee and chocolate!
Cafe El Toledo focuses on organic coffee growing and environmental sustainability.
Participating in this tour is not only educational but also helps profit an eco-friendly and conscious farming operation.
Learn about the trials of growing organic in Central America and why it is so important.
Know Before You Go
Before we go, we will leave you with a few tips and tricks for navigating Costa Rica and coffee tourism.
● Stay Hydrated! Avoid over-caffeination by staying hydrated throughout the day. Coffee tours tend to mean lots of coffee and decaffeinated is not always (or ever) an option. Be sure to drink plenty of bottled water as the local water sources are often inadvisable.
● Keep Snacks on Hand! Likewise, snacks can help combat over-caffeination. Be sure to keep a variety of easy snacks on hand like dried fruit and nuts. Bananas are also an excellent treat to help you avoid the coffee jitters.
● Bugs Be Gone! Always carry bug spray as you travel through Central America. While coffee farms are often at higher altitudes with fewer bugs, once the sun sets, the bugs come out to play!
● Stay Cool! The sun can be quite hot in Central America. Take care to wear plenty of sun-screen and reapply throughout the day. Consider bringing a wide-brim hat for added protection.
● Wear the Right Clothes! While some farms on this list, like the Starbucks’ Hacienda Alsacia, are easy to navigate, many of the smaller farms and truly authentic experiences will require some tactical choices. We recommend wearing long pants to protect you from low-lying bushes and nettles in addition to hiking boots for safely traversing the rocky and uneven landscape of most coffee farms.
● Shop Local! There are many farms not listed that are small, local options. Choosing to support these farms is a great way to support the local economy. Likewise, try to shop with locals rather than larger, more convenient stores.
With these tips and a long list of excellent coffee experiences in Costa Rica, you are sure to have an amazing time in such a beautiful country.
Let us know what you think of these tours and experiences – or feel free to suggest your own favorites!