Coffee is very important to Costa Rica. Without it, no one knows where the country would be today. Since coffee was introduced here in the late eighteenth century, it became a major export and greatly improved the economy. It gave the Ticos a good crop to sell so they had a decent way of life. The biggest coffee barons earned a lot of money and power, and they helped shape the country to what it is now. The profits from the coffee allowed Costa Rica to develop its infrastructure and fund public health and education. Ticos still benefit from these programs today. Also thanks to coffee, the railroad exists, and transportation is much easier. These benefits were very important to improve the quality of life in Costa Rica. Coffee also brings pride to Ticos. Before their coffee became a major export internationally, few big countries cared about tiny Costa Rica, but now Costa Rica is known all over the world for having quality coffee. So coffee brings comfort and joy to the Ticos.
However, since Costa Rican coffee is coveted by consumers around the globe, that could mean none of the quality coffee stays in Costa Rica. I think that the Ticos are still pleased with the coffee they get. We had learned at Cafe Britt that the Ticos didn’t really like the gourmet coffee, but preferred to just buy cheap coffee in the supermarket because they saw it as a commodity, not a treat. They are perhaps not as picky as Americans or Europeans, and they don’t want to spend the money on it. Today we learned that many Ticos buy coffee from Cafe Rey, which even uses the slogan: “la bebida de los ticos.” We asked our host mom where she buys her coffee, and she said she gets it at the supermarket. It was Cafe 1820 and she said it was very good. I think I have preferred the coffee at some of the other places we visited, but if it what they like, that is all that matters. So I think the quality that the Ticos drink is good enough if they are happy with it. Even if it seems like all the best coffee is exported, the coffee that is left is still good. That is because all coffee producers still require a certain set of standards and quality requirements. Cafe Rey told us how they check the quality of the sample, and then double check the quality of each bag that comes in. If the coffee is bad, they send it back. They producers still don’t want to make bad coffee. It was interesting that Cafe Rey made coffee that was roasted with sugar though because according to Cafe Britt that means the quality of the coffee is not as good. However, Cafe Rey just said they did that because it is the traditional way that Ticos are used to and like. Cafe Britt may be saying that just because they do not make any like that and want to sell their differences in a better light. We also learned that if the coffee is so hot it is probably not good quality because it should be good at all temperatures. When we were served coffee at Cafe Britt today, it was very hot, but I think it did taste okay when it cooled a little. So it is probably just a coincidence because they were making it fresh for us. The coffee has been served hot at various places, so I will not assume that automatically guarantees poor quality. It is interesting though that the typical Tico coffee, Cafe Rey’s coffee, has qualities that is considered “bad” by the places which are supposedly the best. This is all of course just opinions and dependent on the perspective. Of course each place will say they are the best. I don’t think the Ticos expect the “fancy” coffee, it is just natural in business to sell the best of your product. Even if that means you don’t get the best for yourself, most people would prefer the money over the slightly improved coffee. I know that if I ran a business I would do the same thing because one tends to put their desire for success above personal pleasure. Also just the preference for coffee is different for every person, so they may not like what is called the best if it is not the right aroma, sweetness, and acidity for their palette. Coffee preference is very personal and from Costa Rica, it is all pretty good taste. I think the Ticos are very proud of that and want to sell the best to others to show off and make money. They know that no matter what, coffee is good and life is good.