Icafe is a government associated institute that helps in research and development of coffee for Costa Rica. They ensure the waters from rivers are consistent with government standards and help develop ways to fight diseases that affect coffee.
Icafe receives most of its funding from a small tax on coffee exports. Everyone whether they use Icafe’s resources or not pay the tax. In return, Icafe provides invaluable information to coffee farmers. Such as providing feedback on the soil. To do this Icafe dissolves farmers soil to then analyze using a chromatography machine. Before where they had to run through an arduous process of testing each element individually, however, due to recent developments in technology they can now do very quickly with a single machine. Changing how fast they get their results from around a month to just a week.
Additionally, Icafe helps farmers by creating new ways to deal with pests. To deal with the terrible fungal infection known as rust they create resistant types of arabica coffee plants. Normally this would take around 30 years as you have to test each type with 6 generations. However thanks to cloning, this process can be shortened to only two years. One really cool way, Icafe has thought to deal with pests it to create a fungal infection that kills the coffee borer beetle, Broca in Spanish, and Hypothenemus hampei in fancy scientist talk. They use this fungus on their coffee plants to kill the Broca’s that come into contact with it.
Despite Icafe being free to any coffee producer in Costa Rica, there may be reasons why one wouldn’t want to utilize their services. One, it is slow your results which if you had your own lab could take days would be weeks as Icafe has to do EVERYONE’S results. Additionally, they generalize the results to one soil type. Even though each geographic area has different soil for the sake of expediency Icafe limits its recommendations to what you need to do to your soil as if you lived in an area with the average soil. That is to say, if you are growing coffee in the Central Valley the solution that you would receive to make your soil better would be as if your soil was mixed with soil across Costa Rica and therefore would not take into account your individual geography. So for some plantations, it may be better to have a faster more accurate lab run the testing and provide soil solutions.
These new developments in the coffee fields continue to interest me. I hope to have more time to learn about the cutting edge technology being used to help coffee produces. ¡Pura Vida!