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Costa Rican Coffee
Nearly all the coffee exported as gourmet Costa Rican Coffee (or simply Costa Rica Coffee as it is often referred to) is grown in the high mountain areas around San Jose. These areas are divided into four districts, Tarrazu, Tres Rios, Heredia and Alajuela. The conditions in those districts are perfect for cultivating coffee. The soil is rich and volcanic in nature and the high mountain climate combine to make superb conditions for growing gourmet coffee.
Costa Rica coffee beans (or Costa Rican coffee beans if you prefer) are graded by hardness until Kenya coffee beans which are graded by size. Hardness is determined by the altitude at which Costa Rica coffee beans are grown. A "Strictly hard coffee bean" (SHB) indicates that the coffee was grown at above 3,900 feet, a "good hard coffee bean" (GHB) is grown between 3,300 to 3,900 feet. Then there is "medium hard coffee beans" (MHB) which are grown between 1,600 to 3,300 feet. Most Costa Rican coffees grown near the Atlantic will carry a name with the word Atlantic in it, such as "High Grown Atlantic Costa Rican Coffee", because these varieties are favored in Europe.
Unlike most other gourmet coffees, gourmet coffee from Costa Rica is sometimes referred to by the coffee plantation (estate) from which it comes. Bella Vista and La Minita are two of the most popular. There are actually more than 150,000 Costa Rican coffee farms and plantations. Thankfully, most of the smaller coffee farms identify themselves together as cooperatives while the larger Costa Rica coffee plantations refer only to themselves. This reduces the number of actually Costa Rica coffee exports on the market and makes the number of coffees to look for much more manageable. Here are a few popular gourmet Costa Rican coffee market names to keep your eye out for; Tarrazu, Tres Rios, Cartago, San Jose, Curridabat, San Ramon, Heredia, Montes de Oca, Naranjo and Sabanilla. All of these Costa Rican coffees are Arabica beans.
Of all the coffees grown in Central American, Costa Rican coffee is the strongest and perhaps the best to blend with other coffees. It should be noted that lesser grade Costa Rican coffee beans are often sold specifically for blending. These Costa Rican coffee beans are not gourmet coffee quality and can actually be found in some commercial blends.
Gourmet Costa Rican coffees typically taste clean, strong and well balanced. They are also well-known for their strong inviting aroma. In the gourmet coffee world, Costa Rican coffees are heavy hitters and should be on any coffee lover's "must taste" list.
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