Tasting the Difference

Over the past two centuries, the coffee industry and the production of various fruits has played a major role in the economic success of Costa Rica. Although these crops have brought great business to the country, Ticos themselves have been missing out on some of the rich, gourmet quality products. At each of the plantations we have been to so far, all of the best crops have been exported to European and American consumers and Tico consumers were left with a small selection of the second-class crops, or the “floaters” as mentioned in the coffee bean industry. Until today, we were not exposed to high-quality products made specifically for local Ticos. Today we visited a company called, 1820. 1820 has been a coffee producer for 24 years, and they specifically market their products to Ticos. They have various classes of coffee, two of which we were able to taste test today: Cláro and Especial Reserva. Both of these products are 100% Arabica, this means that the quality of the coffee is very good; there is no need for sugar to be added to create flavor. As many plantation managers have told us, “supermarket coffee” or the coffee often times left to the Ticos is 80% Arabica coffee beans, and 20% sugar; 1820 produces both as they state “the best coffee is the product that you prefer.”                                                             IMG_3216

1820’s most popular type of coffee is their Clásico, and they account for 30% of the Costa Rican market for coffee, this means that they are by far the most popular. The reason that 1820 is so successful in the Costa Rican market is because they aim to match the taste of the Ticos, they do not base the tastes of their products off of the preference of the expert cuppers.

1820 produces great quality coffee, but they match the flavor that the Ticos have become used to. In other words, they seem to somewhat mimic the flavor of the lesser coffee. Brands like Café Britt, for example, do not do as well in sales in Costa Rica because they produce gourmet coffee that is better off being marketed on an international scale rather than the local scale. I think that the Ticos absolutely deserve better quality products than they are given; however, they do not seem to expect this quality because they have become so accustomed to the second-class product, I would even bet that most of the time they do not care to notice the difference. Instead, they are content with what they have. Because it is produced very close in distance, they seem to have the freshest products, especially when it comes to fruits like mango and pineapple, no matter the quality.

Coffee and fruit have been Costa Rica’s main exports for the past two centuries, and because they export the finest goods, they have maintained successful business relationships with many foreign companies. This leads not only to continuous revenue from the exports, but also, it attracts foreign investors as a whole whether it be in fields of hospitality, ecotourism, or even in the production of crops.

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