Best Costa Rican Coffee – A Review and Buying Guide

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best costa rican coffee

Costa Rica has a pristine reputation in the coffee industry. These coffee beans are considered some of the best in not just Central America, but the world. 

One of the best coffees to come out of Costa Rica is the Volcanica Costa Rican Peaberry Coffee, from the Aquiares Estate in the Central Valley with a 10/10 body, flavor complexity, and memorable, sweet aroma. 

Is it a landslide win? Or can any other coffee hold a candle to the Volcanica? Let’s find out. 

We have Costa Rica’s best offerings for bragging rights. These are Costa Rica’s finest, most satisfying coffee blends and ticked the boxes for me as I took sip after sip in my research. 

Before we dive into our product reviews, let’s take a step back to discover Costa Rica, and why they make the best coffee in all of Central America. 

History & Brewing Traditions 

Coffee was originally brought to Costa Rica from Cuba in 1779, where it has flourished ever since. It was first grown in Costa Rica’s Central Valley, where the high altitude of the mountainous region paired with fertile soil and a temperate climate ensured the survival of the Arabica coffee plant. It quickly became Costa Rica’s most important export. 

Today, Costa Rica is one of the 15 top coffee-producing countries in the world, though it only accounts for just shy of 1% of the world’s coffee production. This makes Costa Rica’s coffee beans an exclusive, highly sought-after coffee with a powerful taste. 

Make Bad Coffee, Go To Jail

Costa Rica offers coffee flavor unmatched by other countries because growing sub-par coffee is literally illegal.

In 1989, the government of Costa Rica passed a law forbidding coffee farmers from planting anything other than 100% Arabica beans. Arabica beans produce the finest fresh roasted coffee in the world, and this law was meant to encourage farmers to aspire to excellence. 

Costa Rican coffee farmers achieve excellent Arabica coffee through three growing traditions: 

1) Naturally Processed Coffee. The mature coffee bean, called a coffee cherry, is dried separately from the pulp of the seed, which produces unique flavor profiles. 

2) Washing Technique. To separate the coffee cherries, the beans are sent to a wet mill where high-pressure water strips the pulp away from the seed. 

3) Notes Of Honey. In honey processing, the fruit is initially removed from the coffee beans and left to dry, where they naturally fall away from the bean. 

The Chorreador De Cafe 

For over 200 years, the chorreador has been one of the most popular brewing devices in the Costa-Rican coffee industry. The Chorreador De Cafe is built from a wooden stand that holds the coffee cup. A pot or sock is held open and over your mug via a wire or rim. Brewing involves ground beans being placed in a cloth bag and hot water being poured over them.

Pour-over style drip grinds are one of the most popular methods of brewing in Costa Rica and ensure you get that high-quality, authentic taste that the organic coffee Arabica beans provide. 

Costa Rican Coffee Regions 

costa rica coffee regions

Some of the best coffee in the world comes from these small Costa Rican regions tucked into the mountains. 

Valle Central

Surrounded by the San Jose Highlands, the central valley has well-defined rain and dry seasons, perfect for growing quality coffee. The Central Valley produces coffee with a pleasant sweetness and hints of fruit flavors, chocolaty sweetness, and subtle honey notes. 

Tres Rios

Three ‘Rivers’ has rich soil that is complemented by the Irazu Volcano. The coffee produced in this region has a flavor profile of allspice notes, citrus flavors, and a distinct plum taste. 

Tarrazu

Nestled in the San Jose province, Tarrazu is a favorite for coffee tours. It produces high-quality Costa Rican coffee with a flavor profile of vanilla, dried fruit, and floral notes. 

Naranjo

Famous for its lush orange groves as well as its coffee, Naranjo grows distinct coffee with a balanced acidity level and notes of fruity sweetness, nuts, cocoa, and an aroma of honey. 

Our Favorite Beans From Costa Rica

Let’s take a look at some of the best coffee Costa Rica has to offer, starting with our best overall pick, the Volcanica Peaberry. 

Volcanica Costa Rican Peaberry Coffee – Best Overall

volcanica costa rican peaberry coffee
At A Glance
  • Roast: Medium
  • Bag Size: 1 lb.
  • Best Brewing Method: Espresso
  • Origin: Tres Rios
  • Flavor Notes: Peach, crisp toasted Tarazzu, apple

Summary: High-quality coffee with a complex flavor blend of citrus and fruity notes makes Volcanica a balanced, distinctly Costa Rican coffee. 

Volcanica Peaberry is a balanced, distinctly Costa Rican coffee and our best overall. With a flavor profile to die for, you can expect a perfect blend of crisp, toasted Tarrazu with a medium body and delicious peach and apple flavor. 

What exactly is peaberry? Peaberry beans account for only 5% of the coffee crop yield, and have to be handpicked and selected to make the cut based on their quality. Peaberry beans have a finer, nuanced flavor and in some cases have notes of acidic lemon, honey, and fresh almond.

Let me tell you, you can taste the difference. The natural flavors of the Volcanica Peaberry are delicate, and with a tropical fruit finish, this coffee makes for a satisfying brew with a smooth taste. 

Volcanica Coffee’s a brand you are most likely to find on the shelves of your local grocery store or wherever your coffee suppliers are.

This coffee is best for regular coffee and espresso drinkers, and specifically, those who want to add notes of citrus fruit to their otherwise flat, familiar espresso. 

Volcanica also roasts and ships their beans to order, meaning you get the freshest roast possible. 

Pros
  • Medium-bodied tropical roast makes for an ideal coffee 
  • Handpicked peaberry beans 
  • Popular coffee among grocery store shelves and supermarkets
  • Perfect for espresso or specialty coffees 
  • Roast and ship their beans on demand 
Cons
  • Ground is slightly too fine and may clog some coffee maker filters 

Cafe 1820 Costa Rican Ground Coffee – Best Value

At A Glance
  • Roast: Dark
  • Bag Size: 2.2 lbs.
  • Best Brewing Method: Drip Coffee
  • Origin: Valle Central
  • Flavor Notes: Chocolaty sweetness with a fruity brew finish

Summary: A great value pick that still uses premium coffee beans from nutrient volcanic soil. 

Cafe 1820’s classic ground coffee blend is the ideal choice for budget coffee nerds. You can grab a larger, 2.2 lb. bag size, for a cheaper price, without losing that Costa Rican flavorful coffee taste. 

With flavors of chocolate, tropical fruit, and mild acidity, Cafe 1820 makes for a strong dark roast without the bitter flavor, acidic notes, or syrupy body you would expect from other, budget dark roast coffee.

Because the coffee ground is dark, the coffee is full-bodied and helps to reveal the deep, rich flavors of these Costa Rican coffee beans. Cafe 1820 is made best by gourmet coffee brewing. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a ton of information available online through the Cafe 1820 website or Amazon about the flavor profile or recommended brewing methods. It took me buying the coffee and hoping I’d like it to form an opinion.

I’d recommend reaching out to local seller for more info before you buy. 

Pros
  • Dark chocolate distinct flavors from 100% Arabica beans 
  • Gourmet coffee without the high price tag 
  • Gentle acidity compared to other dark roasts 
  • Larger bag size makes it great for regular drinkers or for more than 1 cup of coffee a day
Cons
  • No flavor note profiles online  

Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC, Costa Rica Tarrazu Coffee – Best Single Origin

At A Glance
  • Roast: Medium
  • Bag Size: 2 lbs.
  • Best Brewing Method:  French press, or drip espresso 
  • Origin: Tarrazu (Los Santos)
  • Flavor Notes: Bright acidity with notes of milk chocolate and sweet honey

Summary: The taste of 100% Arabica beans with a light body and bright flavors. 

Fresh Roasted Coffee’s Tarrazu is our pick for best single-origin beans, as they’re grown and processed in Los Santos at heights of 1600 meters.

At Fresh Roasted Coffee, the coffee beans are sun-dried, enhancing the coffee quality, while using the washing technique, separating the bean and the pulp to create a unique flavor. 

This coffee brand is also known for using advanced tech that not only ensures a reliable, balanced coffee flavor but has also reduced its carbon emissions by 80%.

This Tarrazu coffee’s medium roast profile includes notes of chocolate and honey sweetness, making it an easy-drinking coffee and perfect for French press brewing or drip espresso. 

Pros
  • Processing methods include washing technique, sun-drying, and advanced tech to ensure a high-quality coffee experience 
  • Single-origin makes Fresh Roasted Coffee’s flavors robust and bold
  • Perfect for the French press 
Cons
  • Beans are known to develop an odor over time with sun exposure, so best to keep them in a shaded area of your kitchen or in a cupboard. 

Dark Costa Rican Tarrazu – Best Premium Pick

At A Glance
  • Roast: Dark
  • Bag Size: 5 lbs.
  • Best Brewing Method: Pour-over
  • Origin: Tarrazu
  • Flavor Notes: Notes of honey, citrus, and dark chocolate with strong flavor

Summary: A slow-roasted, bold taste for elevating your cup of coffee as high as the Tarrazu mountains 

The Dark Costa Rican Tarrazu by Coffee Bean Direct is for the prosumer who wants robust beans with delicious, Arabica flavor. 

This Tarrazu’s flavor profile contains notes of vibrant citrus, honey, and rich dark chocolate making for a savory dark coffee. What sets this coffee bean apart from other similar Central American dark roasts is its roast process. 

The coffee beans are slow roasted by Coffee Bean Direct, which gives you a fuller taste with more flavor than other beans and without the acidity. Not to mention, slow roasting coffee beans gives an intense aroma that will make every coffee lover’s mouth water. 

Coffee Bean Direct also roasts to order and ships the beans whole, meaning you get a high-quality coffee bean that’ll stay fresher for longer. 

Pros
  • Slow roasted beans with a fuller, complex aroma and taste
  • Bold taste with no acidity 
  • Roasts to order and ships whole beans for fresher coffee
Cons
  • Package isn’t resealable, and at 5 lb. in size, storage can be tricky 
  • More bitter than other Costa Rican dark coffees

Green Mountain Costa Rica Paraiso – Best Pod Coffee

At A Glance
  • Roast: Medium
  • Bag Size: 4 lbs. (96 K-cup capsules)
  • Best Brewing Method: Pod coffee machines
  • Origin:Naranjo (San Jose)
  • Flavor Notes: Smooth cocoa, balanced with caramel notes, graham cracker, honey, and white fruit

Summary: The traditional Costa Rican taste meets the convenience of coffee capsules.

For the pod-tech coffee maker aficionados among us, look no further than Green Mountain Paraiso for authentic Costa Rican Arabica coffee.  

The Green Mountain Costa Rica Paraiso brings the lush coffee farms of the mountains right to your pod machine, with a blend of smooth cocoa and distinct notes of caramel, graham cracker, honey, and white fruit.

This is an excellent quality coffee with the convenience of pod technology. There is a whopping total of 96 pods in the packaging, while K-cups are compatible with most capsule coffee makers, including all Keurig machines. 

Green Mountain also responsibly sources their beans from local farmers of the Naranjo region, ensuring the sustainability of the local Costa Rican coffee industry. 

The widespread success of pod coffee makers makes the Paraiso coffee blend easy to source from your local grocery store or wherever you buy your favorite coffees. 

Pros
  • Easy to prepare and user-friendly Costa Rican coffee 
  • Readily available in most grocery stores and coffee shops
  • Delicious caramel and cocoa notes make for a smooth, easy-drinking medium roast 
Cons
  • Defective cups found in the 96-pack are the biggest complaint among online reviewers 

Buyer’s Guide

Before you buy, here are some things I considered when finding the right Costa Rican coffee for me. 

Taste

Why should you choose Costa Rican coffee? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; Costa Rica makes some of the best coffee in the world and has cornered a very exclusive, refined piece of the coffee industry. 

Like any plant or anything grown from the soil, there are certain conditions and practices that need to be perfect, and if not? No harvest. 

Costa Rican coffee’s perfect conditions are what makes their coffee special, comprised of climate and harvesting. 

Climate

Volcanic soils and warm temperatures allow the Arabica coffee bean to grow into a decadent, complex blend of flavors. The volcanic ash oxygenates the beans while they’re in the soil, a trait that is unique to Costa Rica that no other Arabica-producing country has. 

Harvesting

Only handpicked, ripe cherries are harvested, as each bean is measured for its maturity. This process perfectly describes the Costa Rican coffee farmer as someone who takes pride in growing and providing some of the best coffee in the world. Handpicked harvesting also contributes to Costa Rica’s distinct coffee flavor and aroma. 

Roast

Depending on your preference, each coffee has a unique taste and aroma all boiling down to its roast. You can choose between light, medium, or dark varieties. 

Light roasts — are identified by their light brown color, lack of oil on the coffee beans, and a lighter, more thin body. Lightly roasted beans roast for a shorter time and at lower temperatures, with a toasted grain taste and noticeable acidity. 

Medium roasts — have a thicker body and a more balanced flavor than lighter roasts. Roasting longer than a lighter roast, mediums tend to lose some of that pronounced floral taste that’s inherent to lighter coffee. 

Dark roasts — have a discernible black color to them with a robust full body and bold, smoky taste. Be wary of dark roasts, as a dark roast’s cook can burn away all the flavor of the country of origin at such high temperatures. In lesser sellers’ hands, your coffee is going to taste like charcoal. 

Flavor Profile

Try to really think about the flavors you want in a coffee. Maybe notes of plum? Or are dark chocolate notes a must? 

Costa Rica is fortunate enough to have a lot of variety in their coffee tasting notes that you can really pick and choose and dig online to find the perfect cup just for you. 

Be sure to check for brands you like and what kind of flavor profiles they offer on their websites. If there’s not enough information available to you, try emailing them directly or contacting a local seller.

Conclusion  

Costa Rica has some of the best coffee the world has to offer. Arabica coffee beans have a powerfully gourmet taste from volcanic-rich soil in temperate weather conditions at high altitudes with coffee farmers who handpick their cherries and only strive for excellence. 

In the spirit of excellence, the best Costa Rican coffee is the Volcanica Peaberry. This coffee is best because of its decadent peaberry cherries giving us a superior taste, among other benefits like increased availability and roast-to-order shipping. 

Volcanica takes the title and can take my money any day of the week. This coffee will make a welcomed addition to your coffee routine and will bring a little taste of Costa Rica to your morning mug.

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Author
Clint's skills as a barista have made it easy for him to transition into writing about coffee. With so much personal experience and passion, he is able to shed light on all aspects of coffee to ensure you can enjoy this delicious beverage as much as he does.

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