THE COFFEE CAPITAL

Costa Rica 2017 | AGRICULTURE | FOCUS: COFFEE

With its unique topography, ideal climate, and unwavering government support, Costa Rican coffee has earned a reputation as one of the world's most highly regarded varieties.

The coffee plant was introduced to Costa Rica in the late 18th Century, making it the first country in Central America to develop the crop. The country's agricultural economy was largely based on subsistence farming at the time, but the arrival of coffee to Costa Rica marked the beginning of a major shift in the local the mentality, with the production and commercialization of coffee playing a key role in fueling the development of Costa Rican society ever since. Unlike other producing countries wherein economic incentives of scale lead to the mistreatment and exploitation of indigenous peoples, Costa Rican coffee has actually helped democratize the distribution of land and private property, fostering a better quality of life for an estimated 90% of producers.
Throughout its history, coffee has been the engine of social development in Costa Rica. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Census, coffee-related activities employ about 8% of the workforce in Costa Rica, extending social benefits to many otherwise underserved rural areas.

The commercialization of coffee in Costa Rica is 100% privatized, but the state maintains its supervision and control through the Coffee Institute of Costa Rica (ICAFE), which represent the interests of producers, processors, exporters, and roasters. As a representative of the sector, the ICAFE is also the first link with such global bodies as the International Coffee Organization (ILO), the Association for Science and Information Café (ASIC), the Regional Cooperative Program for Technological Development of Coffee Production in Central America, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica (PROMECAFE). According to data provided by the Central Bank of Costa Rica, the country's coffee economy generated USD277.33 million in foreign exchange in 2014, an 8.32% YoY decline from 2013. The determining factors of this decrease have been clearly understood to be declining export volumes and unfavorable price negotiations. During 2015, Costa Rica saw an increase in these figures, a welcome shift for those employed by the coffee business. After bananas, coffee is the largest traditional export, with the US taking in around 51.6% of total coffee exports between 2013 and 2015. At 14.5% of annual exports, the combined market of Belgium and Luxembourg is the second largest importer of Costa Rican coffee, followed by Germany at 4.8%.

Costa Rica stands alone as the only country in the world to have issued an executive order banning the production of any variety of coffee other than the Arabica species, demonstrating the unparalleled importance that it places on quality and consistency. Costa Ricans call coffee the 'golden grain,' and they are justifiably proud to endorse their as the best coffee in the world.