In Costa Rica, coffee accounts for a large portion of the countries economy, both internally and through exports. Due to the high demand of coffee, the country’s coffee suppliers are able to see many benefits from these profits and have large economic growth. Coffee provides economic stability and is a high demand market around the world. This high demand has the ability to provide some benefits for Costa Rican companies as well as the country. There is some controversy over whether or not most of the coffee should be exported or stay in country and has differing opinions depending on the perspectives and values of who is being asked.
First, due to the variation of Costa Rican coffee in different areas, there is a security for many companies that there would always be some supply, even with the constant change in weather. This constant supply of coffee allows other companies to buy the beans and cherries from Costa Rican plantations to be processed and roasted. I think this is a benefit because it allows different companies to always have business and have a revenue even if there is a dry season or too wet of a season that may harm some of the crops. I think of this almost as an insurance policy to cover for any anomalies that may happen over the course of the year that are unpredicted.
In addition, coffee plantations provide a lot of tourism in the area. Many of the plantations provide different tours to show people around the world the specialties of the plantation and how Costa Rica’s focus on sustainability play a role in their coffee business. This tourism also boosts the economy within the country. Along with Costa Rica benefitting from the tourism, the businesses gain publicity from showing their coffee and allowing other people to sample their different blends. Also, there is an increase in education about sustainability that many people can take home and try to implement so it will benefit the environment.
The environment also benefits from the use of the land. Many of the farms, especially in Monteverde, do a lot of extra work to help rebuild the environment. Rather than using pesticides, they grow extra trees and plants that bear fruit that can help enrich the soil and naturally protect the plants from insects. There is also the benefit of growing plants and rebuilding old pastures to increase the amount of green in the environment. Even though we harvest the beans, planting coffee plants still benefit the ecosystem. There is also an increased amount of land secluded as preserves that divide farms and add to the biodiversity which helps coffee growth and pollination as well as stops developers from tearing down land for unnecessary things.
Most plantations say they have gourmet or high quality coffee. This means the coffee beans are in high demand and therefore, many of the companies try and increase the price along with the New York stock market to get the most amount of revenue. In these instances, the coffee beans are too expensive to sell within the country. For some companies, there are brews that are made from “lower grade” coffee, which may be some smaller or reject beans, that are made into local brews for cheaper. There are other instances where good quality coffee is made with the intention on only staying local. We saw this at Café Rey. They decided to make their brews to specifically be used in local supermarkets. However, they still differentiate their different levels of product based on which market they are put into. Higher grade beans are put in more expensive supermarkets whereas the beans that are easier to find or may be more common can be found in local convenience/ supermarkets. In any instance, not all the coffee is exported, there are still local farmers or “Tico” companies who provide the Costa Rican supply. In other instances such as for beans, Costa Rica has to import a majority of their supply to keep up with demand since there are other places who can produce these products for cheaper and in mass.
When it comes down to the product, the quality and brew chosen comes down to preference of the person. I think there are a good selection of coffee available to Ticos from what I have seen from different companies and from what my host Mom has talked about. Just like in the United States, good quality comes at a price. The better “tasting” coffee will usually be more expensive and harder to get because it is less common. On the other hand, just because something is high quality, does not always mean it is the favorite. There are some people who prefer “regular” coffee that is at a more reasonable price, but still fulfills the satisfaction necessary for each cup of coffee. I do believe that Ticos deserve some different blends. Places like Doka talked about using “reject” beans to make the coffee since it would not sell as high level coffee in other markets. I think Ticos deserve more of what Café Rey offers which is quality at every level, but is still priced for quality. That way, there is still an opportunity to get the coffee some Ticos may prefer as long as they can afford it. I think it is better to have an option to buy high level coffee rather than having corporate heads choose what product stays in country and what is exported due to the majority. Although most can be exported, I believe there should still be a small percentage that stays in country.