Costa Rica Coffee
Coffee production in Costa Rica goes back to the year 1779 when the first Coffea arabica crops were brought directly from Ethiopia. The struggling government saw potential in the innovative crop and soon they started offering free land to anyone who showed interest in harvesting the plants. By the year 1829 coffee had become one of the most important sources of revenue for the country.
By the mid nineteenth century, Costa Rican coffee was being exported to England, under a Chilean banner. Upon realizing the origin of the coffee they were consuming, British officials entered direct trade relations with Costa Rica and became their most loyal customer up until WWII. During the early 20th century, coffee revenue aided in the construction of the first modern railroads and even the National Theater (which now boasts murals featuring the crop and is home to one of the most famous cafés in the country).
Nowadays Costa Rica is famous for its gourmet coffee beans, with the famous Tarrazú considered among the finest beans in the world. Along with bananas, coffee might just be the most famous Costa Rican export.
It’s true that the secret is out on Costa Rica coffee, but what many people don’t know about is how Costa Ricans make it. They use an apparatus called a chorreador or “coffee sock”. Now, it’s not really a sock, but a sock-like, small cotton bag held opened by a wire rim and handle that is used as a filter. The chorreador consists of a wood stand which holds the cloth filter where you put the coffee grounds. A coffee cup or coffee pot is then placed on the base of the stand, under the filter, and hot water is poured into the sock where it seeps through the coffee grounds and trickles out of the bag and into the cup.
This process allows for any quantity of coffee to be made and the strength of the brew to be adjusted to taste—from one, strong cup first thing in the morning to a whole pot as family and neighbors stop in for café in the afternoon. It’s rare to enter a Costa Rican household and not find a chorreador in the cupboard or on the counter.
The chorreador has become a popular souvenir item for travelers that would like to take something authentic home with them after visiting Costa Rica. Now you can find a wide variety of these unique coffee makers in stores and supermarkets all over the country, ranging in style from the very basic to the beautifully decorative. It’s something easy to transport that won’t break the bank and can be used at home or just kept as decoration.