Blog 9: Economic Benefits of Coffee

Ever since coffee was introduced to Costa Rica in 1779, it has played a large role in the country’s economy.  Head of State, Juan Mora Fernández, realized the importance of coffee in international trade and wanted to boost its importance in the economy. So, in 1840 he enacted a land reform policy which made it easy for people to obtain land to grow coffee on. This helped create a strong middle class and encourage trade with other nations. Coffee was considered a door to make the country a better place and to get many citizens out of poverty. Also, it gave the country a reputation for producing excellent coffee and put this small Central American country on the map. In today’s economy, coffee is not as important in terms of GDP, but it still provides several huge economic benefits. One of these benefits is the jobs that coffee provides Ticos. The coffee industry creates numerous jobs across every stage of production, from farming to selling. These jobs cover all skill levels from no experience to higher education degrees, which means coffee creates jobs for practically anyone. Another economic benefit that coffee has provided to Costa Rica is tourism. Due to the reputation coffee has in the country, coffee enthusiasts from around the world come to see Costa Rica’s plantations and roasters. These tourists spend a lot of money in the country, and tourism overall contributes more to the GDP than agriculture. Directly, travelers spend money on coffee tours and products in country, but also on hotels, food, and other activities.  Overall, coffee has an immense economic impact on Costa Rica, both directly and indirectly, through the creation of jobs, tourism, as well as general exports.

Most ‘gourmet’ or higher quality coffee is exported to other countries, such as America, so Costa Ricans do not always get preference on the highest quality coffee. However, they are still left with high quality coffee for less money than in the United States. After visiting Café Rey, a popular brand among Ticos, I believe that their day to day coffee is more than good enough. Both Café Rey and Café Britt discussed the fact that Costa Ricans are reluctant to buy gourmet coffee because they do not want to pay the extra price for a better product. Both companies have expressed that they would like to distribute more of their higher quality products locally, because they believe that Ticos deserve the best. In order to accomplish this, they have offered tastings in local grocery stores to help show Ticos there is more than just the same coffee they have been offered for the previous decades. However, it is difficult to persuade Ticos to spend the extra money on coffee, and for this reason most of the high-quality coffee is exported. The ordinary coffee that Ticos drink is by no means an awful product, just not the best the country has to offer. Even in the United States and Europe, where a lot of this gourmet coffee is exported to, most people do not drink this high-quality coffee every day, simply because it is a luxury item. It does not surprise me that Costa Ricans do not want to spend more, since the average coffee we tried today is, in my opinion, better than what most Americans drink on a daily basis. In conclusion, I believe Costa Ricans prefer to purchase less expensive coffee, causing higher quality coffees to be exported.

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