Best Costa Rican Coffees in 2023
If you haven’t tried a cup of Costa Rican coffee, you’ve been missing out. The country produces consistently high-quality Arabica beans with compelling flavours of chocolate and ripe fruit. In fact, some say Costa Rican coffees have the best flavour profile in the world.
Have I convinced you to try it? Great! Keep reading for our guide to buying Costa Rica’s best coffee beans.
AT A GLANCE
How to Choose the Best Costa Rican Coffee
|Rightbean Costa Rica Affinity||
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|Decadent Decaf Costa Rica||
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|Lunae Tarrazu Costa Rica||
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|Cafe Britt Tarrazu Montecielo||
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|Rohebohnen Costa Rica Tarrazu||
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|Fresco Coffee Costa Rican||
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Costa Rica is known for its top-quality coffee with great versatility, resulting from its ideal terrain and growing conditions (1).
With its volcanic soil, high altitudes, and good climate, the coffee here is high quality with good acidity.
That means that no matter your preferences, there’s a delicious Costa Rican coffee for you. To illustrate the versatility of coffees grown in this region, we’ll just tell you that Costa Rican has also been a home for the some of the best Geisha coffee beans.
To help you find it, check out this buyer’s guide, where we’ve included a bunch of handy tips.
Which roast is the roast for you?
Costa Rican coffee is some of the most versatile coffee around. It has the potential of doing exceptionally well as a light roast, medium roast, or a dark roast. These single-origin coffee beans can please everybody.
Most roasters opt for a light to medium roast to highlight beans’ characteristic acidity from the region.
However, if you’re a dark roast lover, there are options for you too.
Not sure about your favourite roast? Here are some general taste guidelines to help you decide.
As light roast, Costa Rica coffees will taste very clean with a sweet, mild acidity. Flavour notes can range from honey and molasses to grape and citrus. Brew through a paper filter to highlight these bright flavours.
As a medium roast, roasting a little more will emphasize a full body and a pleasant sweetness. This will make for an excellent drip coffee, great for any time of the day.
If you want a dark roast, Costa Rican coffees will produce a nice, smooth dark roast full of flavour. Washed processed coffees will give you a clean, enjoyable cup that will do well through a French press or even as espresso.
Take certifications with a grain of salt.
Coffee certifications can undoubtedly be a useful way of gauging the environmental and socioeconomic impact of the coffee you’re drinking (2). We would never discourage you from looking for Organic, Rainforest Alliance, and Fairtrade certified coffees.
That said, these days, there is an increasing number of coffee certifications confusing consumers. Any advocacy group can come up with their certificate, with criteria and enforcement of their choosing.
In Costa Rica, a lot of the best coffee is grown on small family farms. These farms often use responsible growing practices and treat their workers (which are sometimes just family members) fairly, but they lack the might to get officially certified.
We recommend that you look for certifications when shopping for Costa Rican coffee. But we also suggest that you look into the farm and growing region of the coffee as well. Don’t immediately discount a brand just because it doesn’t say “organic” on the label.
Kosher certification is different. It has strictly defined rules. Kosher means that the product complies with Jewish dietary law. Coffee is inherently Kosher, so the certificate shows that it hasn’t been doctored with any additives like flavouring or preservatives.
The grind or not to grind that is the question.
As a site staffed by coffee nerds, we recommend that you always buy whole bean coffee and grind it yourself. As soon as coffee is ground, it begins to release its flavour, and before you know it, your pre-ground coffee will taste stale. This is a particular concern when you’re buying coffee online because the shipping time will add to the delay between grinding and brewing.
However, if you don’t have access to a good burr grinder and must buy pre-ground coffee, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First of all, ensure you buy the correct grind size for your brewing method. That means coarse for French press, medium for drip coffee, and ultra-fine for espresso. Not all brands offer grind size options, so shop around if you need to.
Second, look for companies that roast and grind to order and offer fast shipping. This ensures that your coffee won’t have much time to lose the flavour before it gets to you.
The 6 Best Costa Rican Coffee Beans in 2023
Many online coffee brands claim to sell the best Costa Rica beans, but unfortunately, many of these claims are untrue, and you might end up with a blend.
If you’re unsure where to start finding good quality beans, here are some of our favourite single origin Costa Rican coffee beans.
Rightbean Coffee started out as primarily a coffee importer, sourcing high quality green beans from the Kenyan coffee belt. Now they offer an expanded selection of specialty beans, hand roasting your coffee only after it has been ordered.
Rightbean Costa Rica Affinity is selected from farms in Tarrazu, the country’s most famous growing region. Planted at altitudes of up to 1650 metres, these beans grow slowly, with the extra time deepening the flavours. Expect base notes of cocoa, with some brightness and sweetness from creamy orange. When brewed as espresso it develops a rich crema, but the bold flavour also makes it ideal for a cafetière or cold brew.
These beans are labelled European Preparation, which has nothing to do with processing or roasting. It means that the green beans are hand sorted to remove defective beans and foreign matter, with a lower tolerance for defects than in American Preparation (3).
If the craving for the classic taste of Costa Rican coffee hits late at night, it’s time to reach for these beans from Decadent Decaf. These are prime Tarrazu beans, grown at altitudes of 1200 metres among the mountains of southern Costa Rica. Tarrazu’s famously good growing conditions result in a coffee that’s versatile and easy drinking.
With a well-balanced flavour profile, these beans are suitable for a wide range of brewing methods. As a pour over you’ll highlight the clean, aromatic qualities, or with a cafetière, you’ll pick up more of the chocolate and nutty tastes.
Decadent Decaf proudly uses the Swiss Water method of decaffeinating their coffees. This removes up to 99.9% of caffeine from the green beans without the use of chemicals. The beans are then roasted in small batches in the company’s headquarters in West Sussex.
Lunae Coffee founder Nick Robinson started with a simple goal to create an amazing coffee cup. And after perfecting his glass cappuccino and espresso cups, he started selling the perfect coffees to enjoy with them. The family run-brand offers a small selection of single-origin beans, all of which are roasted to order and shipped the same day.
For a small brand, they offer big value, with this very affordable Costa Rican coffee. These 100% Arabica beans are both organic and Fair Trade, sourced from the award-winning Cooperativa Tarrazu. This particular lot is grown by just 30 families on small farms in the San Luis Community.
In terms of flavour, you’re getting the sweetness and acidity that this country’s coffees are known for. At first sip, you’ll discover bright orange notes, followed by a strong but creamy body with notes of cocoa.
The Tarrazu region of Costa Rica is where the country’s most prized beans are grown. It’s an area defined by small valleys tucked among the Talamanca mountain range. The high altitudes of up to 1600 metres, natural shade from the mountains and plentiful rainfall make this prime coffee-growing territory.
Tarrazu is probably the most well-known growing region. Beans from this area have a particularly excited acidity that can catch even veteran coffee lovers by surprise.
Cafe Britt’s Tarrazu Montecielo offers plenty of this prized acidity despite being treated to a darker roast. In the cup, it’s a strong-bodied coffee with a chocolate flavour, highlighted by bright citrusy grapefruit notes.
Cafe Britt is a specialist in Costa Rican coffee, so once you’ve tried their Tarrazu, you can explore beans from other parts of the country including Tres Rios and Naranjo, or their all-Costa Rican blends.
Beans from Costa Rica are usually offered as a light or medium roast to highlight their natural acidity. But if you buy your own green beans to roast at home, you can really experience the full range of flavours that Costa Rican coffees can offer. You’ll also be enjoying a much fresher taste if you roast in small batches.
Like most of our favourite Costa Rican coffees, this one is sourced from Tarrazu. The mountainous landscape means that most coffees you’ll find here are classified as SHB (strictly hard bean) (4). SHB coffees have more of that acidity and sweetness that makes Costa Rican flavours so enjoyable.
Rohebohnen’s Costa Rica Tarrazu beans are wash processed, so you can expect a cleaner, brighter cup of coffee. The precise flavour profile will depend on how you choose to roast it, but you can expect it to be full-bodied with hints of nuts and spice.
As well as the amazing landscape, part of what makes Tarrazu special is the way that the coffee is grown. In other parts of the country, coffee is produced on large plantations, but here it’s grown on small family-run farms. Farmers then sell their coffee through cooperatives, the largest of which is the Cooperativa Tarrazu.
This coffee comes from family farms in the San Marcos area, a particularly high part of Tarrazu with rich red soil. These beans don’t have the high acidity you might expect from the region, instead offering a more smooth and creamy cup. You will get plenty of flavour however, with a strength that stands up to milk as well as being a tasty black coffee.
When you order from Fresco Coffee, your beans are roasted fresh at their headquarters in Hornsea. They’ll be packed and shipped immediately to guarantee you get the best flavour.
Thanks to solid infrastructure and magical growing conditions, Costa Rican coffee beans are finding their rightful place among the planet’s finest. Their bright acidity and sweet flavours are charming coffee drinkers worldwide.
To get an authentic taste of the country, our favourite this year comes from Rightbean Coffee. Their Costa Rica Affinity is a delightfully flavorful brew, with sweet citrus that’s perfectly balanced by rich chocolate.
Costa Rica coffee is exclusively Arabica. In fact, in 1988, the government outlawed robusta coffee beans altogether to maintain the country’s reputation for producing only the highest quality coffee. It’s the only country in the world where this has been done, though the law was reversed in 2018 (5).
Tarrazu coffee is Costa Rican coffee grown in the region of Tarrazu. This is probably Costa Rica’s most famous growing region, and it’s recognized as producing some of the highest quality coffee in the world. It’s located in the country’s mountainous interior, which has ideal altitude and climate for growing arabica beans.
Costa Ricans make their coffee using a chorreador, which is a brewing device unique to the country. It’s also known, less appetizingly, as a “coffee sock.” It’s a simple cloth filter that you suspend from a wireframe over a waiting mug. You add the grounds to the sock, and hot water is poured over them to give a strong cup similar to drip coffee. Most Costa Ricans then add milk and sugar (6).
- Mendez, X. (2017, November 29). The Story Behind Costa Rica’s Disappearing Coffee Farms. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/11/the-story-behind-costa-ricas-disappearing-coffee-farms/
- Bradley, E. (2017, August 10). Coffee Certifications. Retrieved from https://freshcup.com/coffee-certifications/
- Esselon Coffee Roasting Co., Inc. (2016, December 1). Wash Process. Esselon Coffee. https://www.esselon.com/coffee-terminology/wash-process/
- Andrews, D. (2015, March 17). Costa Rica SHB EP ·. InterAmerican Coffee. https://www.interamericancoffee.com/costa-rica-shb-ep/
- Pretel, E.A. (2018, February 9). Exclusive: Costa Rica to lift 30-year ban on planting robusta coffee trees. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN1FT2UH?edition-redirect=ca
- Metcalf, H. (2015). 8 Things You Never Knew About Costa Rican Coffee. Retrieved from https://www.contiki.com/six-two/8-things-never-knew-costa-rican-coffee/