So, this month happens to be my annual detox month - I eat mostly fruit, veggies, whole grains like quinoa and wheatberries, some fish, some soy, and that's about it... no bread, no processed or refined foods, no caffeine. I had a headache the first three days because I'm SO addicted to coffee. So in starting to write this blog I'm pretty scared that it's going to send me spiraling. Especially since I am writing this from a coffeeshop - my mug of green tea is just...delicious.....:(
Coffee isn't indigenous to Costa Rica - it actually didn't arrive until the last decade of the 18th century. Although the spread of coffee cultivation moved slowly through the country, it eventually became a main export, and was transported around the country using the railroad (you guessed it - the railroad built by Henry Meiggs and Minor Keith for the United Food Corp!). The country has now become so connected with the exportation of coffee that the Costa Rican tax year is based on the coffee trade, beginning in October and ending in September of the following year. The most famous coffee-producing regions are Tarrazu, Tres Rios, Heredia, and Alajuela. From what I've read, coffee is widely esteemed in Costa Rica, and enjoyed by almost everybody. In fact, the government decreed in 1840 that all laborers building roads should receive a free cup every day! However, in reading some articles about coffee in Costa Rica, I was surprised to hear some complaints about the coffee in the country. Supposedly much of the best coffee is exported, leaving locals with the dregs:(
A Guaymi woman hand picking coffee
Much of the coffee in Costa Rica is picked by local laborers. In some regions particular indigenous groups act as migrant workers, some of which cross the border for work, such as the Guaymi who come from Panama. They can be recognized by the women's brightly colored dresses, bags made from plant fibers, and beaded bracelets and necklaces.
So, in the midst of reading for this blog I got caught up in a website for a company (Cafe Milagro) created by a couple who traveled to Costa Rica a few summers in the early 90s and fell in love with the country. They ended up buying a coffee roaster and opening up a warehouse where they started a coffee roasting business. Sometimes customers would come in to buy a kilo of coffee and would relax on a sack of beans while they enjoyed a cup of fresh roasted coffee. They ended up being so popular that the created a little shop and a local baker supplied pastries, and eventually began serving dinner.
Not only have they created a successful business in the coastal town of Quepos, they also donate a portion of their profits - some to the chamber of commerce, some to the Titi Conservation Alliance, which protects local biodiversity, and they also have a yearly fundraiser to raise supplies for a local area school. If you are interested in ordering some of their coffee, check out their website. I just ordered their Organic Dark Roast - grown in high altitude volcanic soil and handpicked by independent family farmers. I also got the shade-grown, pesticide-free Finca Rosa Blanca Eco Estate Coffee, which cultivates trees in a way to create a biological corridor for birds and mammals in the area. They gave me some free chocolate covered pineapple with the order. MMMM, I can't wait to break my detox on my Costa Rican cooking night with a steaming cup of coffee and a chocolaty treat straight from a beach town in Costa Rica!!!!
If my post here really resonated with you and you'd like to move to Costa Rica and get involved with the coffee business, maybe you should consider buying this Costa Rican Coffee Farm - only $80,000!