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Costa Rican coffee is a pure delight for many people. Over at Sweetmaria’s, experts on coffee flavors and nuances, they call Costa Rican coffee the “perfect cup”, deliciously balanced between bright and bland, the most coffee-flavored of all coffees.
Coffee and Costa Rica have a long history together. The small Central American country began exporting coffee in 1820, and started exporting their coffee on their own (without the middleman of a big company) as early as 1854. Coffee taxes funded some of Costa Rica’s national architectural and cultural treasures. The relationship between coffee and Costa Rica is a natural one – most of the country has the ideal climate and environment for growing coffee. Over 70% of Costa Rica’s coffee is grown in the mountainous areas that range between 3,280 and 5,580 above sea level. Anyone who’s paid attention to the coffee adverts over the past hundred years or so knows what mountain-grown means in coffee parlance. It’s a synonym for heaven. Both Kona and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee are grown at similar altitudes, in similar volcano-enriched soil. The tropical climate is perfect for bringing out both the bright, fruity overtones and the hints of chocolate and nutty flavors that make mountain grown tropical coffees such a treat.
Now, however, a UN study in Uganda has raised concerns among coffee farmers and researchers in Costa Rica. The study found that changes of just a few degrees in the average temperature could have devastating effects on coffee production. It’s not just the temperature, though, that has Central American researchers concerned. It’s the effect of the temperature change and the changing climate cycles on coffee pests.
Patricia Ramirez of the Central American Integration System sasy that increases in the frequency of dry cycles could favor the growth of leaf rust, a coffee fungus that attacks young fruit, leaves and buds. A similar type of coffee rust infected Brazil in 1970, drastically reducing the production of coffee in the region. Other effects that may be laid at the doorstep of global warming include droughts and unexpected storms with high gusts of wind.
It’s not all bad news for Costa Rican coffee farmers, though. An agricultural economist for ta Costa Rican coffee cooperative said that as the temperature has gradually increase, Costa Rican farmers are finding that they can plant higher on the slopes, at altitudes where coffee never was able to survive and prosper before.