The Impact of Coffee on the Costa Rican Economy

If you were to ask someone to describe what they know about Costa Rica, one of the first things that would most likely come to mind is the coffee industry. Coffee has been grown and sold out of Costa Rica for the past two centuries. The combination of soil, altitude, temperature, humidity, and other features have led to a world-renowned cup of coffee coming out of Costa Rica. This has been a huge source of economic income and international publicity for the country which have led to many benefits for the country of Costa Rica and its people.

One of the economic benefits that the coffee industry has brought to Costa Rica is the ability to build up other industries. An example of this would be the tourism industry. This has been extremely relevant in the region of Monteverde. This area has been primarily coffee and dairy farming until the 1980s when tourism started to become popular. Many people wanted to come and see the rainforest and other sights and the coffee industry was able to have a preexisting foundation so that this land was established and prepared for an influx of tourists in the years to come. Also, many coffee companies in Costa Rica today use tourism to their advantage by offering coffee tours, tastings, and souvenir shops. Obviously, the tourism sector has surpassed its coffee counterpart, but I can see that these companies are trying to get their share out of the tourism industry to supplement their coffee businesses. Many other industries have further developed because of the source of income that coffee has generated including education and public services. This has all led to an overall better off place to live and visit as a result of the coffee industry.

Sustainability throughout the coffee industry has led to many economic benefits throughout Costa Rica. Almost all the farms we have visited have had a major focus on sustainability practices. One benefit that being sustainable has is lower costs. We have come to learn that electricity and water are very expensive here in Costa Rica. If a company can limit its usage of these utilities, that would save them a lot of money and help the environment at the same time. I have seen many examples of this in use that range using bike parts to cut feed for animals to reusing parchment paper as fuel to use when heating the coffee beans. All of these practices have been put in place in order to eliminate any unnecessary use of expensive power sources when greener alternatives can be found. In conjunction with the economic benefit this brings, the environmental impact is felt with equal, if not greater magnitude. For example, healthier environmental practices lead to a better-quality product which will result in better production and sales for a company. Another aspect that the environmental sustainability helps with is the ecotourism industry. This starts with sustainable methods that are put in place on the farms that lead to the want of communities to protect the ecosystems around them. This has also been very prevalent in Monteverde where they have over 90,000 acres of protected rainforest. This in combination with the draw of ecofriendly practices on the coffee plantations have led to a boom of the tourism industry there. This boom has seen major economic benefits for that region all because of the decision to work towards becoming a sustainable nation. In general, the coffee industry has provided the stepping stone for Costa Rica to achieve the economic status Costa Rica has come to reach today.

Another interesting topic with Costa Rica is that since they export a majority of the goods they produce, do the local people receive the same quality good or are they getting a lesser quality at their expense? From my personal experiences so far, I would say that the people of Costa Rica are left with a quality that is equal, if not better, than that of the goods that get exported. One of my reasons behind this thought is that much of the fruit I have eaten here has been on another tier of quality compared to what I have had in the United States. Since fruits are one of Costa Rica’s main exports, I would say that they have better quality sold to the local Ticos than what is consumed in other counties. For the coffee industry, I would still say that they are receiving a quality that is above average. I have talked to my host abuela about the coffee here and she raves about how much she loves it so I do not believe that Ticos feel they are receiving a lesser quality than what is exported. Also, I have learned that Costa Rica has one of the highest coffee consumption levels in the world. With this in mind, I do not see how they could feel as if the product they are consuming is of inferior levels. Overall, I would say that the goods the Ticos are left with to buy and consume are of equal to better quality than that of what is being exported.

Leave a Reply