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How to Make Coffee in Costa Rica: A Step-by-Step Guide

Article by GVI


Posted: February 25, 2023

Coffee has been a beloved part of many people’s lives for centuries, and Costa Rica is no exception. Its rich volcanic soil and tropical climate make it the perfect place to grow and produce some of the world’s finest coffee beans. Brewing a perfect cup of Costa Rican coffee takes more than just buying some beans however, it takes an understanding of the entire coffee-making process from selecting beans to grinding and brewing. Read on to learn how to make a perfect cup of Costa Rican coffee in just a few steps.

What Coffee is Grown and Produced in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica produces some of the highest-quality Arabica beans in the world. These beans are full-bodied with a fruity undertone and are known for their bright acidity and moderate sweetness, making them ideal for both espresso and filter coffees. Coffees from the Central Valley region such as Tarrazu, Tres Rios, and Heredia are some of Costa Rica’s top-selling coffees. They have a sweet and creamy flavour profile with fruity undertones.

In addition to the Central Valley region, Costa Rica also produces coffee from the highlands of the West Valley, which is known for its intense flavour and aroma. This region produces some of the most sought-after coffees in the world, such as the Monteverde and Naranjo varieties. These coffees have a unique flavour profile, with notes of chocolate, nuts and citrus.

The Basics of Coffee Preparation

Before brewing any coffee, it’s important to understand some basic principles of preparation. Once you select the type of beans you want to use, you’ll then need to roast and grind the beans. Roasting is done to bring out the flavours of the beans and make them more palatable. There are several different types of roasting techniques, so experiment to find the one that best fits your taste. Once you’ve roasted the beans to your preference, you’ll then need to grind them. Generally, the finer the grind, the stronger the coffee. Brewing also requires careful attention to ensure a balanced cup.

When brewing coffee, it is important to use the right amount of water. Too much water will result in a weak cup of coffee, while too little water will make the coffee too strong. Additionally, the temperature of the water is important. If the water is too hot, it can burn the coffee, resulting in a bitter taste. If the water is too cold, it will not extract the full flavour of the beans. Experiment with different temperatures to find the one that best suits your taste.

Understanding Roasting and Grinding Techniques

Roasting coffee involves exposing it to high heat for various durations to bring out its colors, aromas and flavours. Common methods for roasting coffee in Costa Rica include air roasting and drum roasting. Air roasting is considered the traditional way to roast coffee in Costa Rica and uses hot air circulated through the beans. This method produces a light and crisp cup of coffee. On the other hand, drum roasting is a modern method which uses rotating drums to evenly heat the beans. This results in a smoother cup with more roast flavour and fuller body.

The grinding process is also an important part of making coffee. Different brewers require different grinds in order to extract flavour correctly. For example, espresso calls for a much finer grind than French press or filter coffee. A burr grinder is often recommended for home use as it works better than blade grinders at achieving even particle size and offering control over grind setting.

The Different Types of Costa Rican Coffee Drinks

There are many different types of Costa Rican coffee drinks available. Café reposo, or cafeól, is an espresso served with equal parts steamed milk and foam. Café con leche is an espresso served with hot milk and sugar added for sweetness. Café cortado is an espresso with just a touch of steamed milk to soften the acidity. Americano is espresso served with hot water, making it weaker and easier to drink than an espresso.

Selecting the Right Coffee Beans for Your Perfect Cup

Selecting the perfect beans for your preferred type of coffee can make all the difference. Different types of beans have distinct flavours and aromas. Look for high-quality freshly-roasted single origin or certified organic beans for a vibrant cup of coffee. You’ll want to check if it has been chemically processed or not, as chemical processing can add artificial flavours or sweeteners that can affect your cup’s taste. Additionally, pay attention to the roast level and make sure it complements your brewing technique.

Brewing the Perfect Cup of Costa Rican Coffee

To make a perfect cup of coffee using your preferred brewing technique, make sure to use filtered water, freshly ground coffee, and follow all instructions accurately. Generally, espresso requires finely ground coffee with a ratio of 1:2 (17g of ground coffee to 34ml of water). Espresso should be brewed for 15-20 seconds with water heated at 85-95 C (185-205 F). For filter coffees, you’ll want coarser grounds for slower extraction with water again heated to 85-95 C (185-205 F). When brewing café-style drinks such as cappuccino, you’ll need more finely ground beans for quicker extraction.

Adding Special Touches to Your Costa Rican Coffee

Costa Rica also has uniquely delicious ways to enjoy their traditional coffees. One popular topping is queso fresco – a type of fresh white cheese – which provides a creamy flavour when melted onto warm espresso. For an extra dash of sweetness or richness, you can try café con leche with condensed milk or café con hielo with sweetened condensed milk and ice. Lastly, adding different spices like nutmeg or cinnamon can create a delicious twist.

Tips for Enjoying Your Costa Rican Coffee Experience to the Fullest

When you’re selecting your beans, don’t forget to explore different regions – each region has unique flavour profiles which enhance each cup of coffee differently. When grinding whole beans at home, use a burr grinder as it offers more control over grind size making espresso shots easier to brew consistently. Finally, make sure you store your roasted and ground beans properly as light, heat, oxygen, and moisture can all contribute to stale or bitter coffee.

If you’re interested in learning more about Costa Rica and its culture, why not consider joining a volunteer program with GVI? With a variety of programs focused on conservation, education and community development, you’ll have the opportunity to make a positive impact while exploring the country’s natural wonders in your free time.

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