Costa Rica is famous for its eight distinct coffee-growing regions—each yielding beans with unique characteristics, brewed in kitchens and coffee shops all around the world—but unknown outside its borders for having a robust coffee culture.
Almost since the first coffee seeds were planted in Costa Rican soil in 1808, the nation has been an exporter. By 1830, coffee was the country’s number one export.
At the very beginning of Costa Rica’s independence from Spain, the first president decided to incentivize coffee the way the US incentivized clear-cutting forests in the American West: anyone who cultivated a plot of land as a coffee farm for five years became owner of the land.
But Costa Rican coffee, as the world knows it, was never intended for Costa Rican use. Though coffee has long been popular among Costa Ricans, many people drink beverages brewed from lower-quality beans.