A “Rey” of Sunshine

Today we visited two coffee companies, Starbucks and Café Rey.  I enjoyed both of these visits, as they were very informative.  I thought it was cool to see Starbucks’s research and development plantation and observe the differences between a research and development plantation and one used for actual production.  I also really enjoyed how Café Rey walked us around the warehouses and showed us the roasting process. 

Coffee has been a major focus of the Costa Rican economy for a long time. Near the beginning of the 19th century, Juan Mora promoted a mass exploration of the unknown parts of Costa Rica.  He believed in the potential of coffee and said the government would subsidize anyone would started growing coffee.  This caused many Tico’s to leave their homes to grow coffee, which led to the start of coffee as a major factor in Costa Rica.

Coffee businesses in Costa Rica have experienced widespread economic success over the years.  One economic benefit for Costa Rica has been the profits made from coffee.  Costa Rica generates a lot of revenue and profit from selling coffee, and some of this money is used to help with government programs.  Other than giving Costa Rica money, the coffee industry provides an enormous amount of jobs for individuals.  There are innumerous coffee farms, factories, and facilities that Tico’s and others can work at to make a living.  This helps pull Tico’s out of poverty and strengthens the middle class, because more people are making more money.  Another benefit that the coffee industry has provided is that it helped put Costa Rica’s name on the map.  Other countries around the world started to hear about this small Central American country that produced amazing coffee, and they all wanted to try.  This led to a boom in Costa Rica’s coffee industry, and along with this international interest came more money.  Costa Rica was able to and is still doing business with many different countries worldwide, which is a large part of where Costa Rican coffee goes.

Costa Rica exports a large portion of the coffee it produces.  Every company we have visited that has discussed this topic has mentioned that the Tico’s get the worst coffee, because all of the good coffee is exported.  Tico’s get the “leftovers,” or the coffee that is not as high quality as the coffee sold internationally because companies can receive a better price on the global market than on the local one. This theme has been prominent for centuries, and is why Tico’s put large amounts of milk and sugar in their coffee.  I think Tico’s deserve better coffee.  The Ticos are responsible for making the coffee, from seed to final product, so in my opinion they should be able to the drink the best.  I do understand that from a money-making perspective, it is better to sell on the international market than on the Costa Rican.  I do not think this is a good enough reason to ship out all of the good coffee, and I think Tico’s should have access to at least some of the “good” coffee.  Recently, Tico’s have been exposed to the “good” coffee, which has led to the addition of less milk and sugar to their coffee.

Costa Rican coffee companies have been very successful over the past two centuries.  I was surprised when I first learned that Costa Rica exported all of its good coffee because I think Tico’s should be rewarded with the highest quality of coffee since they put in the hard work into making it.  However, I am happy to see this trend is slowly changing and am excited for Ticos to have full access to “good” coffee. 

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