There are actually many more origins in the Americas, but some that are too cold for me to feel like introducing. Therefore, I have selected a few of the more typical American origins, including Bolivia, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica. The length may be long, you can first collect and then slowly read.
Honduras is located between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, with a large undeveloped lowland jungle in the northeast and a densely populated lowland river valley in the northwest, where the Coco River separates Honduras from Nicaragua. Honduras has three distinct topographic regions: a vast inland highland and two narrow coastal lowlands. Inland are mountainous areas that make up approximately 80% of the country’s topography.
The economy of Honduras is primarily agricultural, and coffee production has played an important role in the country’s history and is important to the Honduran economy. in 2011, became the largest coffee producer in Central America; it accounted for 14% of its GDP in 2013. By 2020, total coffee production could rank sixth in global production and second in global production of Arabica.
History of Coffee Development
Coffee was first introduced to Honduras by Spanish merchants in the late 18th century, and small-scale cultivation began in 1804. However, coffee production was a long-term investment that would only pay off after many years, and most small farmers could not afford to wait that long, and since bananas had always been the main cash crop in Honduras, there were still many small farmers who mainly grew bananas, and coffee cultivation did not spread on a large scale.
At the end of the 19th century, coffee cultivation in Honduras passed its initial stage, and although there were many coffee plantations, they were not large in scale. The soil, climate and other natural conditions of Honduras are much the same as those of neighboring countries such as Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, which produce coffee, but the lack of transportation construction linking the production areas and ports led to almost no exports of Honduran coffee, and the products were mainly sold at home.
In 1894, Honduras produced about 2,000 tons of coffee, 10% of which was exported. Exports took place from the Pacific port of Amapala in the south and the deep-water Caribbean port of Puerto Cortes in the north.
By the 20th century, Honduras was exporting more than 54,000 pesos of coffee beans. it was only in the mid-20th century that the condition of Honduran roads improved, making it easier to get coffee out of the fields and export it. Since then, more roads have been built and some have been expanded, which has made it easier to export coffee.
In 1970, the Honduran government established the Honduran Coffee Institute (Instituto Hondureño del Cafe), or IHCAFE for short, to help improve the quality of local coffee.
In 1998, Honduras suffered a setback when Hurricane Mitch destroyed at least 80% of the coffee estates, followed by an outbreak of coffee leaf rust and damage to infrastructure, making life extremely difficult for small farmers. Since then, the Honduran coffee industry has recovered. Today, Honduras is thriving and is the sixth largest coffee growing country in the world. The coffee industry in Honduras creates more than one million jobs during the harvest season, making it an important economic pillar of the country.
Honduras has a complex topography and a diverse climate. The coastal plain in Central America has a tropical rainforest climate with an average annual temperature of 31°C. The mountains have a subtropical forest climate with an average annual temperature of 23°C. The rainy season from June to November is ideal for growing coffee. The mountains have a subtropical forest climate with an average annual temperature of 23°C. The rainy season from June to November is ideal for coffee growing, with mild temperatures and abundant rainfall.
Most of the coffee beans from Honduras are sold to Europe and the United States, and Asia does not get much of the production.
There are 280,000 hectares of coffee plantations in Honduras, mainly small coffee plantations, most of which are smaller than 3.5 hectares, and these coffee plantations account for 60% of the entire Honduran coffee production. In the coffee plantations, because of the mountainous nature of the plantations, they are collected by hand in order to produce better quality coffee beans.
There are more than 100,000 families involved in coffee production in Honduras. Of these, 95% are small-scale farmers and 70% farm on less than 2 hectares of land (about 30% of the country’s total production). more than 95% of households are engaged in coffee-related labor. In Central America, the aging population poses a real challenge to the long-term sustainability of coffee, and the average age of Honduran coffee producers is declining. The average age of Honduran coffee growers is 46 years old, 10 years younger than 10 years ago.
In 1970, the Honduran Coffee Institute (Instituto Hondureño del Cafe (IHCAFE)) was established to improve the quality of coffee and to assist coffee producers by setting up coffee laboratories in six production areas defined by the Institute. These six production areas are located in the western and southern regions of Copan, Opalaca, Montecillos, Comayagua, Agalta Tropical, and El Paraiso. These areas have an average altitude of more than 1100 meters above sea level. The coffee grown in these areas is 69% HG, 12% SHG and 19% CS.
Located between the Copan, Ocotepeque and Lempira regions, it exhibits intense chocolate flavors, characterized by a sweet blend of honey and caramel, with relatively light fruit flavors, planted at an altitude of 1000 – 1500 meters, with an annual precipitation of 1300 – 2300 mm; the season lasts from November to March.
Mainly planted in Bourbon, Catuai, Pacas, Lempira, IHCAFE – 90.
Opalaca Zone (Opalaca)
Located between Santa Bárbara, Intibucá and Lempira, it has a very fine acidity, with an overall balance and a taste of tropical fruits such as grapes and mulberries, with a sweet and sour finish, showing a strong lemon flavor, neutralized by the sweetness of honey and caramel, with a clear fruit flavor, at an altitude of 1100 – 1700 meters, with an annual precipitation of 1350 – 1900 mm; season from November to March.
Mainly planted with Bourbon, Catuai, Lempira, Typica.
Located between the La Paz, Comayagua, Santa Bárbara and Intibuca regions, it is full of intense fruit and sweet aromas, with lemon and floral rhythms. The lemon and fruit aromas are important features, especially the peach and orange, with lively and bright acidity, a velvety texture and a long finish. Altitude 1200 – 1700 m, annual precipitation 1300 – 2300 mm; season December to April.
Main cultivation Bourbon, Catuai, Lempira, Pacas.
Located between the Comayagua and Francisco Morazán regions, it has a lemon flavor with a distinctly sweet fruit aroma and a creamy texture, as well as a citrusy sweetness and a sweet, chocolatey flavor.
Mainly planted with Bourbon, Typic, Caturra, Lempira.
This area spans parts of the provinces of Olancho, El Paraiso and Francisco Morazán, mainly in the eastern part of the province, and is the most dispersed area, consisting of 14 protected areas to increase its botanical diversity to balance the ecosystem, with a high ecotourism value. Aromas and aromas of honey, it has an intense citrus flavor and a subtle but pronounced acidity, and a pleasant aftertaste. The altitude is 1100 – 1700 m and the annual precipitation yield is 1350 – 1950 mm; the season lasts from December to March.
Mainly planted with Bourbon, Typic, Caturra, Lempira.
It is located in the south of Honduras, between El Paraíso, part of Choluteca and the province of Olancho. The coffee has a gentle, fruity acidity, caramel aroma and a balanced taste. The altitude is 1100 – 1700 meters and the annual precipitation is 950 – 1950 mm; the season lasts from December to March.
Mainly planted in Catuai, Caturra, Pacas, Parainema, Lempira.
Treatment method and tree species
The most traditional treatment method in Honduras is the water washing method, which will not be described. Most of the other tree species planted have been described before. Here we will focus on Lempira, IHCAFE – 90 species, which are appearing for the first time.
This is a cross between Timor Hybrid 32/1 and Caturra. Selected by IHCAFE, it is highly similar to Costa Rica 95.
IHCAFE – 90
A cross between Timor Hybrid 32/1 and Caturra, selected by IHCAFE, highly similar to T5175.
Honduran Coffee Institute
Established by the Honduran government in 1970 and privatized since 2000.
The functions of the Institute are mainly to implement the national coffee policy and to establish standards for the production and internal and external marketing of coffee through technology generation and transfer, management and business development, in order to achieve sustainable and competitive coffee growth in the international market and to become an integral part of the international market.
On the other hand, developing the competitiveness of the coffee industry through a sustainable approach, using cutting-edge technologies that are environmentally friendly, providing the market with quality coffee, promoting the profitability of Honduran coffee growers, and implementing the promotion of diversified alternatives that will be effective and viable as alternative sources of income.
Guatemala is located in Central America, with tropical rainforests in the lowland plains of Petén in the north, volcanoes up to 4,200 meters in the highlands of the central part, and a tropical climate in the narrow, rich flatlands along the Pacific Ocean.
The central highlands are also the cultural center of Guatemala, with altitudes of about 1300 – 1800 meters above sea level and mild temperatures throughout the year, with daytime temperatures of about 18 – 28°C, often colder in January and February higher up. Guatemala City, the capital of Guatemala, is also located here. The city has 2.5 million inhabitants and is the largest city in Guatemala. Tourist centers include Lake Atitlan, the old capital of Old Guatemala, the ancient Mayan city of Tikal and some other famous cities such as Quetzaltenango and Chichicas de Nangos.
History of Coffee Development
Some say that coffee cultivation in Guatemala began as early as the mid-18th century, when Jesuit missionaries brought coffee plants to decorate their monastery in the city of Antigua. The initial coffee cultivation was not very large and not many people planted it because of the poor economic conditions and the inability of the locals to invest in the plant quickly.
Until the 1860s. At that time, during the Napoleonic Wars, trade routes were blocked and the application of cheaper artificial dyes weakened Guatemala’s exports of indigo, one of the country’s main cash crops. In search of new sources of income, many people turned to coffee cultivation as a new economic source.
Because coffee production is labor-intensive, lack of labor was a major obstacle to increasing coffee production in Guatemala. in 1887, Guatemala produced about 22,000 tons of coffee; in 1891, it produced about 24,000 tons. By 1902, some of the world’s most important plantations were located on the southwestern coast of Guatemala.
The Great Depression of the late 1920s and 1930s also affected Guatemala, leading to the rise to power of another dictatorial regime. Fed up with dictators, Guatemala democratically elected their first president in 1940, but he didn’t last long. President Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown in a coup to protect U.S. economic interests.
In June 1952, during the Guatemalan Revolution, Congress passed Decree 900, also known as the Agrarian Reform Law. This law redistributed land from more than 1,700 haciendas to 500,000 landless peasants. Most of the beneficiaries were indigenous people who had not had access to land since the Spanish conquest in the 15th century. In turn, the law angered many powerful landowners, including the United Fruit Company and the United States, who saw the reform as a communist threat. The agrarian reform law is often cited as an instigating factor in the 1954 coup that marked the beginning of decades of civil war.
The civil war in Guatemala did not end until 1996, which greatly hampered the coffee industry in Guatemala. The stability of peacetime slowly allowed coffee production to expand beyond the historical coffee growing areas. Beginning in the 21st century, lands that once grew popular crops such as macadamia nuts and avocados began to be replaced by coffee.
Today, Guatemala’s coffee industry is a juggernaut. It generates about 40% of agricultural export revenue, and almost a quarter of the population is involved in the production of the 3.6 million bags of coffee exported each year.
Guatemala was the top coffee producer in Central America for most of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, until 2011 when it lost its leading position to Honduras.
Beginning in 2012 and continuing for several years, an outbreak of coffee leaf rust hampered coffee production and development in Guatemala, reducing yields by up to 25% and leading the government to declare a state of emergency. Farmers tried a combination of chemical and organic treatments, targeted pruning, reduced shade plants, and replaced susceptible varieties with more leaf rust resistant varieties.
Coffee production was recognized as a national intangible heritage by the government in 2018. Today, coffee remains one of the main agricultural exports and it is a source of income for more than 125,000 Guatemalan families.
There are 37 volcanoes throughout Guatemala, providing fertile, mineral-rich soil. The planting altitude ranges from 1300 – 2000 meters above sea level. And it’s not just the altitude, the variety of terrain in Guatemala and the different climates on the west and east coasts create a microclimate that allows for a great variety of flavors even within the same appellation.
The optimal temperature for healthy, fruitful coffee growth is between 16 – 32 °C. Coffee is grown at an altitude of about 500-700 m above sea level. Coffee is grown at an altitude of about 500-700 meters above sea level. 98% of coffee is grown in the shade, where shade trees reduce soil erosion and recycle nutrients. Plantations at an average altitude of around 1500 meters above sea level must be protected from the cold north winds with wind protection.
The country has 305,000 hectares of land dedicated to coffee production, and coffee forests account for 7% of the country’s forest cover. They are located on steep mountains in the main water recharge areas and help protect the country’s fragile ecological health.
Coffee producing areas
Coffee is grown in 20 of Guatemala’s 22 departments. The high altitude (1300 – 2000 meters), combined with rich volcanic soils (over 35 volcanoes from the Guatemalan highlands) and over 300 microclimates, means that Guatemala is able to produce coffee with different flavors. Eight of these regions are the better known ones.
Acatenango (Acatenango Valley)
The region benefits from the frequent eruptions of the nearby Fuego volcano, which fill the coarse, sandy soil with minerals. The coffee here is grown in the dense shade of Gravilea, Inga and Guachipilín trees at an altitude of up to 2,000 meters, creating an incredibly biodiverse forest environment.
Due to its location, Acatenango also experiences temperate gusts from the Pacific Ocean and a pronounced dry season. This allows the coffee to dry completely in the sun without the need for mechanical assistance.
Antigua (Antigua Coffee)
Rich volcanic soil, low humidity, lots of sunshine and cool nights characterize the Antigua region. This valley is surrounded by three volcanoes, Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. Every so often, Fuego, one of Guatemala’s three active volcanoes, adds a new layer of mineral-rich ash to Antigua’s soil. The volcanic pumice in the soil retains moisture, which helps offset Antigua’s low rainfall. In Antigua, shade trees are particularly dense to protect the coffee plants from the occasional frosts in the area.
The appellation Antigua is probably the most common one in the country. in 2000, Antigua received the appellation of origin to recognize the distinctiveness of the region and to prevent other coffees from being sold as Antigua coffee.
Atitlan (Traditional Atitlan)
Lake Atitlan is the largest volcanic lake in Guatemala, and with three volcanoes surrounding the lake, the soil is as fertile as you can imagine. More than 90% of the coffee trees are planted on the slopes of the volcano, together with other plants, as its shade trees. It can also be used to supplement the family if the coffee production season is bad. Atitlan’s coffee beans are full of aroma and fruity acidity that makes the cheeks taste sweet.
Rainforest Coban (Rainforest Coban)
Coban is unlike any other producing region in Guatemala, with a tropical rainforest climate. The year-round rainfall and frequent fog make the coffee trees here bloom up to nine times a year. Because of this, there are very few sun-dried beans in the Koban rainforest, and the main method is washing. Koban’s coffee beans have a strong flavor with a touch of spice, low acidity, strong cocoa flavor, and some even have a bit of grape and dried fruit flavor.
The terroir of the Fraijanes appellation is similar to that of Antigua, with volcanic pumice soils, very high altitude, ample rainfall, variable humidity and an active volcano characterizing the region. Pacaya is the most active of Guatemala’s three erupting volcanoes, providing the region with small deposits of ash at regular intervals, giving the soil an important mineral boost. There is plenty of sunshine during the dry season, and although clouds, fog and thick dew are common in the early morning, they quickly disappear, leaving the entire Farahannes plateau dry. This is the best appellation in all of Guatemala for sun treatment.
Viviténango (Highland Huehue)
Viviténango is located in western Guatemala, near the Mexican border. Viverteñango is known for its wide ethnic diversity and the Cuchumatanes Mountains, the highest non-volcanic mountain range in all of Central America. It is also the country’s most complex and famous coffee producing region, and these coffees regularly appear in the top ten of COE competitions. This is due to the coffee’s ability to grow at incredibly high altitudes (up to 2,000 meters above sea level), thanks to the dry, hot winds that blow into the mountains from the plains of Tehuantepec, Mexico, and protect the region from frost. These high altitudes combined with a relatively predictable climate result in exceptional coffee quality.
New Oriente (New Oriente)
This region has been growing coffee since the 1950s. Now, almost every farm in the hills is a coffee farmer, and this area, once one of the poorest and most isolated in Guatemala, is now full of vitality. The abundant rainfall in this region makes it much wetter than Antigua, which lies in the middle, but the new Orient, which is high in the mountains, has a higher altitude, a more attractive aroma and quite a complex variation in flavor. Washed beans have pronounced lemon peel, nutty, and caramel flavors. Sun-dried beans, on the other hand, have a complex wine feel, cream, cherry and other thick flavors. Among them, Santa Rosa has had a very bright showing in recent years as a sub-appellation in the competition.
San Marcos (Volcanic San Marcos)
San Marcos is the warmest of the eight coffee growing regions and has the highest rainfall, up to 5,000 mm. Seasonal rains come earlier than in other regions and flowering is earliest. As with all remote areas of Guatemala, much of San Marcos Volcano is grown on farms with their own processing plants. The average coffee farmer will dry the beans in the sun on days without rain before going into the plant to dry them by machine to minimize damage, a sort of Guatemalan site-specific processing method. El Socorro, the Triple Crown winner of Guatemala’s Cup of Excellence COE, comes from this region.
Species and processing method
Arabica is grown in almost all of Guatemala (98%), including Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai, Typica, Maragogype, Pache, etc., with a boutique rate of over 45%.
I have already introduced all the other species, but this time I will only introduce the new one that has emerged: Pache.
The Typica variety has a natural mutation that causes the plants to grow smaller (dwarf), which allows it to be planted more intensively and obtain higher yields. This variety was discovered in 1949 at the Brito farm in Santa Cruz Naranjo, Guatemala. It was selected by mass selection, that is, a group of individuals were selected for their superior performance, the seeds of these plants were bulked to form a new generation, and the process was repeated. It is best suited for growing at altitudes above 1200 meters and in areas with an annual rainfall of less than 2500 mm.
The vast majority of Guatemala is treated with water washing. New treatment methods such as solarization and dense treatment have also gradually begun to spread.
Guatemala belongs to the subtropical alpine terrain, coupled with abundant rainfall and fertile volcanic ash soil, ideal for growing coffee beans, higher altitudes are more likely to produce more expanded coffee beans, so the altitude and bean hardness to judge the merits of coffee.
In 1960, coffee growers developed their own union, which has since become the National Coffee Institute Anacafé (Asosiación Nacional del Café), a research center, marketing agent and financial organization that provides loans and support to growers in all regions.
The Republic of El Salvador is composed of 70% lava terraces and mountains, with an average altitude of about 610 meters. Except for the narrow plains along the southern coast, the rest of the country is a mountainous plateau with many volcanoes, making it the “Land of Volcanoes”. The highest peak in the country is Mount Santa Ana at an altitude of 2,381 meters. The climate is hot and humid in the coastal and lowland areas and cool in the mountains. The average annual temperature ranges from 17 to 25 degrees Celsius.
El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America in terms of area. The natural landscape is rich, with volcanic terrain being the most characteristic feature, with the most prestigious three volcanoes, Cerro Verde, Izalco and Santa Ana, coming together to form a volcanic complex.
The coastal zone has a standard tropical climate with many well-known beach resorts. The high mountain areas may be much cooler, but the temperature is still above 10°C.
History of coffee
According to historians, the introduction of coffee in El Salvador can be traced back to as early as 1779 – 1796. The first coffee crop was found on the land of two Salvadoran farmers from Ahuachapán; they had obtained the seeds in Guatemala.
In the early 19th century, coffee was first grown in El Salvador for home use. In addition, the first commercial treaty with the United States, signed in 1853, helped increase coffee production in El Salvador. In addition, the establishment of the International Bank in 1880 and the installation of the telegraph also contributed to the increase in coffee production.
By 1880, coffee had become almost the only export crop.
By the mid-20th century, the commercial prospects for coffee were clear, and the government began to support coffee production through legislation such as tax breaks for producers, exemptions from military service for coffee workers, and the elimination of export duties for new producers.
In the 1950s, El Salvador began modernizing its coffee growing system and created the Salvadoran Institute of Coffee (ISIC).
This institute contributed greatly to improving the productivity and quality of coffee. This newly established institution began to develop new coffee varieties and began to bear fruit in the 1960s.
By the late 1970s and early 1980s, El Salvador was among the top ten coffee producing countries in the world.
Then came the Salvadoran civil war of the 1980s, which severely affected the country’s coffee production. It is estimated that coffee production dropped by 19% during this period. Many coffee farms were located in areas of high conflict.
After the civil war, agrarian reform reversed previous land policies and broke up the country’s original system of large estates.
By the 1990s, annual coffee production in El Salvador remained at around 2.4 million bags. However, for various reasons, El Salvador’s annual coffee production is now less than 900,000 bags.
Between 1997 and 2001 coffee prices fell sharply and the entire Salvadoran coffee economy collapsed, with producers and exporters defaulting on their bank debts. The crisis was so widespread that most producers went bankrupt and coffee production declined, but more importantly, they lost government and financial support. According to ICO data, production in El Salvador dropped by more than 34% that year.
Coffee is a significant contributor to El Salvador’s economy and an important export commodity for the country. Unfortunately, however, coffee has been labeled as ‘political’ in the country.
In addition to decades of politics and price factors, El Salvador’s coffee industry lacks uniformity. This drawback was highlighted when leaf rust ravaged the country in 2013.
Only 3 percent of the coffee trees planted at the time were rust-proof, most of them Bourbon and Pacas, so the industry had no chance to fight the epidemic raging in Central and South America. During the 2014 harvest season, El Salvador’s production dropped nearly 60 percent to 515,000 bags, according to ICO data. Annual production in subsequent years has hovered between 500,000 – 750,000 bags; a far cry from the millions of bags 20 years ago.
In 2016, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture launched a new program to distribute 20 million rust-proof plants to small farmers to further revive the country’s coffee industry.
On top of that, in late 2017, the Salvadoran government signed a political agreement proposing to invest $100 million over the next eight years to renovate 70,000 hectares of land with rust-resistant varieties, according to the USDA’s latest Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) annual report.
In 2018, Salvadoran coffee exports increased, accounting for more than 60% of total export revenues; it is one of the top 20 coffee producing countries in the world. In total, there are about 20,000 coffee farmers and more than 100,000 people working in the sector. By today, Salvadoran coffee production is still declining, but will remain the most important component of the Salvadoran economy by 2021.
El Salvador has approximately 165,000 hectares of coffee plantations, close to 12% of the country’s arable land. Although planted in 7 of the country’s 14 departments, the majority of plantations are in the western and central departments of Santa Ana (34% of total production), Ahuachapán (17%), Sonsonate (10%) and La Libertad (21%). The majority of coffee lands in the east of the country are located in the provinces of San Miguel (10% of the total national area) and Usulután (6%).
Coffee is an important source of employment, generating nearly 135,000 direct jobs, accounting for 25% of the agricultural sector and 7% of the country. In 1996 / 1997, exports totaled 2.85 million 60 kg bags valued at $506 million. Bulk shipments went to Germany (45.3% of the total), the United States (18.55%), and the Netherlands (5.9%).
The active volcanic activity brings mineral-rich volcanic ash to El Salvador, and the composition of the soil, which is mainly composed of volcanic ash, has more minerals and less organic matter. Therefore, in order to maintain the location and make up for the lack of organic matter, coffee farmers will use treated coffee fruit residues or organic matter under the coffee trees as fertilizer to make up for the lack of organic matter in the soil and ensure the healthy growth of coffee trees. El Salvador cultivates more than 150,000 tons of organic coffee every year.
There are nearly 20,000 coffee producers in El Salvador. Small and medium-sized farms of less than 120 hectares account for about 65% of production. The producers, who account for about 25% of the total production, are grouped into marketing cooperatives that together form the “Union of Coffee Cooperatives of El Salvador”, which was created by the agrarian reform of 1980, the “Union of Coffee Producers and Beneficiaries”. Coffee production and processing cooperatives were organized to bring together small farmers who did not have access to land before the reform and who accounted for 10% of national production.
Coffee producing areas
The coffee producing areas of El Salvador are located in 6 regions, namely Apaneca Ilamatepec, Alotepec Metapán, El Bálsamo Quezaltepec, Chichontepec, Tecapa Chinameca and Cacahuatique.
The Apaneca Ilamatepec mountain range includes the provinces of Santa Ana, Sonsonate and Ahuachapán, which are located in the western part of the country. It is estimated that about 50% of the area is devoted to coffee cultivation. The coffee varieties grown in the area are Bourbon, Pacas, and Pacamara. The coffee in this region is grown between 500 – 2365 meters above sea level.
The Alotepec Metapán mountain range includes the provinces of Santa Ana and Chalatenango in the northwestern part of the country.
The three types of coffee grown in the region are Pacas, Bourbon, and Pacamara. most of the coffee produced in the region consists of small producers.
EL BÁLSAMO QUEZALTEPEC
The Sierra de Balsamoc-Saltepec includes a number of municipalities in the departments of La Libertad, San Salvador and Sonsonate. It is located in the central part of the country.
The region includes the San Salvador volcano and its rich volcanic soil. Coffee from this region is grown at altitudes of 500 – 1900 meters.
The altitude of the region varies greatly, averaging from 500 – 2000 meters, with the highest peak of 2130 meters, the San Miguel or Chaparastec volcano, located in the region. This region is the third largest production area in El Salvador.
The Chinameca Tecapa mountain range is located in the east of the country and it includes the provinces of Usulután and San Miguel.
Bourbon, Pacas and Pacamara are the most cultivated varieties in this mountain range.
Chinameca Tecapa is 500 – 2000 meters above sea level and it includes the famous San Miguel and Chaparralastique volcanoes.
The Cacahuatique coffee growing region is located in the departments of San Miguel and Morazán in the eastern part of El Salvador. It is estimated that 4% of the total coffee growing area is located here.
El Salvador Coffee Commission (Consejo Salvadoreño del Café)
This organization, mainly in El Salvador, monitors and tests the quality of coffee; counsels coffee farmers on coffee cultivation; and also traces the origin of raw coffee beans produced in the country, specifying information on the origin, and other work.
Costa Rica is located in a narrow strip of Central America, bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the east and the North Pacific Ocean to the west, with a coastline of 1,290 km (212 km of Caribbean Sea on the east coast and 1,016 km of Pacific Ocean on the west coast). Costa Rica’s coast is bordered by plains and separated by rugged mountains in the center. The country has declared its exclusive economic zone to be 200 nautical miles and its territorial sea to be 12 nautical miles. The climate is tropical and subtropical, and partly neotropical.
History of coffee
Costa Rica is the 14th largest coffee producer in the world, with a global market share of about 1%. Costa Rica’s volcanic soil is very fertile and well-drained, and was the first country in Central America to grow coffee and bananas for their commercial value. Coffee and bananas are the country’s main export commodities.
Coffee was first brought from Cuba to Costa Rica in 1779, and was first produced commercially in 1808 and exported for the first time in 1820.
In 1825, the Costa Rican government introduced tax exemptions, and the “coffee growers’ plots” were introduced to encourage the population to start growing coffee, and from this time on the coffee industry grew rapidly in Costa Rica. 1843 saw the first export of Costa Rican coffee to England, and in 1860 it was successfully sold to the United States.
In the 1900s Brazil, Honduras and Guatemala joined the race for the coffee market, which became increasingly competitive in terms of price. Costa Rica’s national coffee association, the Costa Rican Coffee Institute (ICAFE), was founded in 1933. This organization assists in the commercial and agricultural development of the coffee industry.
The Second World War in 1945 brought major changes to the Costa Rican coffee industry. Costa Rica used to be the largest supplier of coffee beans to the United Kingdom, but with the outbreak of the war, the United Kingdom stopped importing Costa Rican coffee beans, creating a major blow.
A plague of coffee trees hit Central American coffee farms in the 1980s, killing millions of trees and dealing another blow to the coffee industry until the mid-1990s, when coffee production rebounded significantly but prices were not what they used to be.
Costa Rica passed a law in 1989 that prohibited farmers from growing Robusta. In 2000, although the value of coffee beans was not as high as it had been in the past, coffee was still booming in Costa Rica and coffee farmers were able to invest in their own post-harvest processing equipment, so they were able to process most of their own coffee. Coffee production has also increased significantly.
Costa Rica has a tropical and subtropical climate, with a rainy and dry season throughout the year. The volcanic soil is fertile, with low acidity and good drainage, and more than 80% of the coffee growing area is located at 800 – 1600 meters above sea level, with temperatures between 17 – 28°C and annual rainfall of 2000 – 3000 mm. Fertile soils, mild and moderate temperatures, and stable and abundant rainfall are essential factors for growing good coffee.
The Costa Rican coffee industry is divided into four sectors: growers, processors, exporters and roasters: growers have legal ownership of the development of coffee plantations and are responsible for delivering the harvest to processors; processors receive the coffee and process, sell and trade it; exporters are responsible for contacting foreign countries and supplying large quantities of coffee to importers and roasting companies in the main consuming countries; and roasters are responsible for roasting, grinding or finishing the coffee.
There are 29,918 coffee growers in the country, of which 25,812 are small-scale growers, accounting for 86.3% of the total growers, and the total production of small-scale growers accounts for 29.3% of the total coffee beans produced in the country.
Of the 292 coffee processors registered with the Costa Rican Coffee Association, 20 operate as cooperatives, which account for 47% of all registered coffee processors and 40% of the total coffee processed in the country.
Coffee producing areas
Costa Rica is a long and narrow country with oceans on both sides and a long coastline, but the altitude is very suitable for coffee growing, with five main production areas: Central Valley, Three Rivers, West Valley, TARRAZÚ and BRUNCA, and Turrialba, Orosi and Guanacaste are the three smaller appellations.
The Central Valley is the most populated region of Costa Rica and the heart of the country’s coffee industry, accounting for approximately 15% of total production. At an altitude of 1,000 – 1,200 meters, the Central Valley’s volcanoes provide very fertile and mineral-rich soils, which, together with the distinct dry and rainy seasons, create a special microclimate ideal for growing coffee trees, and the coffee harvest usually takes place from November to February.
Three Rivers Region (TRES RÍOS)
This is the smallest coffee producing area in Costa Rica, at an altitude of 1000 – 1600 meters. Like the Central Valley, the Ilhazu volcano provides the fertile soil environment of the Three Rivers region, which produces many world-renowned coffees and is considered by many coffee drinkers as the “Bordeaux” of coffee production. The coffee has a pleasant body and an excellent sweetness. However, due to its proximity to the capital, arable land in the region is rapidly disappearing and many coffee farms are succumbing to economic pressure to invest in real estate.
This region accounts for 25% of Costa Rica’s total production. With an altitude of 1200 – 1700 meters and an annual production of about 307,000 – 460,000 bags of coffee beans (60kg/bag), West Valley is also home to the Orange County Cooperative (Naranjo), which offers a wide range of coffee bean flavors, from classic chocolate to delicate fruit flavors such as peach and orange.
Costa Rica’s largest and most famous coffee producing region, accounting for nearly 35% of total production, at an altitude of 1200 – 1700 meters. The rich volcanic soil and cool climate of TARRAZÚ, combined with the high altitude growing conditions, produce a coffee with rich acidity and a rich, full body, often with fruit, vanilla and chocolate flavors. TARRAZÚ also has many innovations and advances in coffee growing and processing techniques, making TARRAZÚ considered to be the best coffee bean region in Costa Rica.
Brenca accounts for about 20% of the country’s production and is located at an altitude of about 800 – 1200 meters. It produces mainly HB grade coffee beans, and although the flavor is not as distinctive as the other regions, it is still one of the most important coffee regions.
Other production areas
About 5% of Costa Rica’s coffee production is located in the Turrialba, Orosi and Guanacaste regions, which are at an altitude of about 600 – 900 meters and therefore have a milder flavor, lower acidity and thinner body.
Costa Rica determines coffee grading by the altitude at which the coffee is grown, and in general coffee cherries ripen at different altitudes for different amounts of time. Higher altitudes yield denser, harder coffee beans.
The Costa Rican Coffee Association (Instituto del Café de Costa Rica), or ICAFE for short, is a non-state public institution founded in 1933. It is the governing body for coffee cultivation in Costa Rica.