Best Costa Rican Coffees in 2020
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 flavors of chocolate and ripe fruit. In fact, some say Costa Rican coffees have the best flavor 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
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 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 favorite 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. Flavor notes can range from honey and molasses to grape and citrus. Brew through a paper filter to highlight these bright flavors.
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 flavor. 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 flavoring 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 flavor, 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 flavor before it gets to you.
The 6 Best Costa Rican Coffee Beans in 2020
||Volcanica Coffee Company Costa Rican Peaberry||
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||‘Fresh Roasted’ Costa Rican Coffee Beans||
||George Howell Tarrazu||
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||Sweet Maria’s Green Costa Rican Range||
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||Oren’s Costa Rica La Minita||
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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 favorite single origin Costa Rican coffee beans.
Volcanica Coffee is one of the best online retailers of gourmet single-origin coffee beans (and even blends). They have a strong commitment to quality, including not roasting your beans until AFTER you order and sending them along with super-fast free shipping.
That guarantees you the freshest tasting coffee.
Currently on offer is a hand-picked Costa Rican Peaberry. Peaberry coffee is a mutation that causes about 5% of coffee cherries to contain one bean instead of two (3). That means the one coffee bean gets double the nutrients and thus double the flavor, making them prized by coffee lovers.
Peaberry coffee is known for being sweeter, more flavorful, and higher in caffeine. These coffee beans have a balanced yet intense fruity, citrusy flavor that is mild, sweet, and bright.
Volcanica’s Costa Rican beans hail from the prized La Isabela Estate, where they’re shade-grown at 5,200 feet. The beans are Rainforest Alliance certified, which means you can feel good knowing they’re produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way.
True to their name, Fresh Roasted only sells freshly roasted coffee. Ordering coffee through Amazon is risky unless you are sure that the coffee will be fresh, and in this case, you can be. The coffee is not roasted until after you order, meaning you should receive it within 4-7 days of roasting.
Their coffee from Costa Rica is a single origin medium roast from Tarrazu.
To get coffee from Costa Rican premier coffee-growing regions at such a bargain price is rare.
It’s an intensely flavorful bean, with a medium body and notes of chocolate and honey. It has a present acidity, but it’s less powerful and citrusy than many other Costa Rican options. So it’s great for sensitive stomachs.
Fresh Roasted uses only environmentally friendly Loring roasters. They are Climate Pledge Friendly thanks to their Compact by Design certification, which means the packaging is optimized to reduce shipping’s carbon footprint.
Impressively, they also guarantee insurance, medical services, housing, and transportation to all coffee pickers during harvest. This is coffee that will make you feel as good as it tastes.
La Colombe is a specialty roaster that has been around for 20 years. They have mastered the art of finding and roasting great coffee from around the world. If you don’t live near one of their stores, you can order coffee through their website and get free shipping on orders over $30.
They have a wide variety of single-origin coffees, and you will likely always find a great Costa Rican. Right now, they’re offering Costa Rica Special Process, a beautifully balanced light roast with bright acidity and pronounced fruit, nut, and citrus flavors.
Fascinatingly, this coffee is both a single origin AND a blend! How is that possible?
The coffee beans were all grown on the same farm, Hacienda Sonora, located at 4,000 feet elevation in Costa Rica’s central valley. But they processed half the beans naturally and the other half with honey before they blended them back together.
This gives this coffee an utterly unique depth and complexity that should not be missed.
Another coffee bean hailing from the mountainous region of Tarrazu, this offering from George Howelle, is the platonic ideal of a coffee from Costa Rica.
If a friend asks you what Costa Rican coffee tastes like, this is the one to serve. It deliciously demonstrates the characteristics of the Tarrazu region in particular (4).
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.
Along with that prized acidity, this medium-bodied coffee has a surprisingly heavy mouthfeel. It highlights the country’s classic flavors of milk chocolate, nuts, and sweetness and has a bright and juicy finish that suggests peach.
This is an excellent coffee for pour-over brewing, so now’s the time to pull out that Kalita Wave or Hario V60. It’s pleasantly chocolate-forward but has enough acidity and fruity complexity to make it enjoyable.
If you roast your coffee, you probably already know about Sweet Maria’s. Tom, the man behind Sweet Maria’s, spends a lot of his time in the beautiful nation of Costa Rica. He sees the potential this place has to continually improve their coffee growing and processing practices to produce the best coffee around.
So you know that any coffee they sell is going to be excellent.
Their high-altitude-grown Tarrazu Monte Alto beans have a fascinating blend of flavors that you can manipulate to your heart’s content with your roast. The green coffee beans have tasting notes of muscovado sugar, caramel popcorn, raisin, lemon zest, and malic apple.
While most roasters offer light or medium roast for Costa Rica coffee, Sweet Maria’s suggests a darker roast for these green beans, resulting in full-bodied coffee with rich mouthfeel flavors of bittersweet chocolate and dark fruit.
Espresso lovers, take note!
If that doesn’t sound up your alley, check out their other premium green Costa Rican beans.
The cold brew process naturally generates a sweet and mild coffee with low acidity, so we love to use flavorful and full-bodied beans. Oren’s Costa Rica La Minita coffee, which has been popular since Oren began roasting it over 30 years ago, is a perfect example.
It’s an easy-drinking coffee, with a flavor profile to please everyone. You’ll taste notes of milk chocolate backed by a fruity sweetness of honey and plums. It has a long finish and a bright acidity that keeps your tastebuds engaged.
It’s a naturally processed coffee, a relatively unusual find in premium coffees, and this gives it an added complexity that we especially love for cold brew. The cold brew process runs this risk of yielding an overly mild drink, but that will not be the case here.
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 flavors are charming coffee drinkers worldwide.
To get an authentic taste of the country, our favorite this year comes from Volcanica Coffee. Their Costa Rican Peaberry is a delightfully flavorful brew, with a sweet fruitiness that’s perfectly balanced by bright citrus acidity.
Costa Rica coffee is exclusively Arabica. In fact, in 1988, the government outlawed robusta coffee beans all together 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://www.freshcup.com/coffee-certifications/
- Brown, H. (2020, March 17). What Are Peaberry Coffee Beans? The Myths & The Reality. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/03/what-are-peaberry-coffee-beans-the-myths-the-reality/
- Vassau, M. (2018, April 26). Costa Rican Coffee: Get To Know Your Coffee Origins. Retrieved from https://www.drivencoffee.com/blog/costa-rican-coffee-origins/
- Pretel, E.A. (2018, February 9). Exclusive: Costa Rica to lift 30-year ban on planting robusta coffee trees. Retrieved from https://ca.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN1FT2UH
- 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/