Costa Rica Coffee Terrain: Guanacaste

The Costa Rica Coffee Institute, we believe, is a very important factor in the success of the country’s coffee sector, with the Tarrazu region leveraging the Institute’s resources more effectively than most. This, in turn, has played a role in Tarrazu’s exceptional success with its own regional cooperatives. Good growing conditions, of course, are the most important factor. But why else do some regions do so much better than other regions? What explains our neglect of the Orosi region during the first year of Organikos operations?

We have also neglected Guanacaste coffee region, but this seems more obviously based on its geography. If you have been to Costa Rica, as a statistical fact it is very likely you spent some of your time in the northwest of the country. Most visitors spend at least part of their vacation in this zone due to the exceptional beauty of the Pacific coast, especially as contrasted to the arid conditions just inland. It does not sound like coffee country. Read the Institute’s own description, where the bold section might throw off anyone, but the nuances that follow help understand why a closer look makes sense:

GuanacasteCoffeeHigh temperatures and a dry climate result in a bean that is long and soft when roasting. The drink is soft, full-bodied and lightly acid, with well-defined salty and bitter notes.

The Guanacaste region is characterized by the exploitation of coffee crops in small areas, distributed in the provinces of Guanacaste, Puntarenas and Alajuela (Sarapiquí and San Carlos). Coffee plantations are located between mountainous areas with the cool temperatures of the Central Volcanic and Guanacaste mountain ranges.

Most coffee growers are small producers, whose harvest range between 50.000 and 70.000 quintals per year; and a high percentage is classified as Pacific type. Because crops are established in high-temperature areas, approximately 85% of plantations are under forest shade mainly of Erythrina or Poro, Musacea, Inga or Guaba, fruit species and exotic wood. This production is known as “Sustainable Coffee Growing”.

Coffee plantations in the Guanacaste region are developed in andisols soils of volcanic origin characterized by their great fertility and excellent structure. In Sarapiquí and San Carlos, although to a lesser degree, coffee plantations are located in inceptisols soils towards the middle and upper areas, and in ultisols in the lower areas. As in other coffee regions, the Arabica species is grown, mainly the Caturra and Catuaí varieties.

Guanacaste has two well-defined seasons: a dry season and a rainy season, except in Sarapiquí and San Carlos, where the rainy season may be longer, although not with much intensity during the summer. In the provinces of Guanacaste and Puntarenas, the average annual rainfall is of 2.100 millimeters, and the weather is warm, especially in summer when temperatures reach over 30 °C.

Visit the Institute and read more here.

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