Costa Rica’s crop is consistently among the world´s best. The Central Valley is the ideal place for growing coffee for its altitude and mineral-rich volcanic soil.
Coffee has been called ¨El Grano de Oro¨ (The Golden Bean) for all the economic prosperity that it has brought to Costa Rica. Over the last 100 years, coffee has transformed Costa Rica from a colonial backwater, into a relatively affluent and cosmopolitan republic. Founding families owned the largest plantations producing a coffee oligarchy. Attracted by coffee plantation jobs, hundreds of families from Europe and the Americas moved to Costa Rica between the end of 1800´s and beginnings of 1900´s, and were given land in exchange for working in the plantations. These families created the largest democratic middle class in all Central America.
The first coffee export was to Colombia in 1820. In 1842, Costa Rican coffee planters made their first direct shipments of coffee to England. European coffee connoisseurs soon recognized Costa Rican coffee as one of the world’s finest. More importantly, Costa Rica now had access to Europe’s wealth. The face of this once sleepy little ‘Rich Coast’ was now changing. This economic prosperity enabled the country to build most of the nation’s landmarks. In 1890 it was built the first access to the Atlantic coast in 1890 via a new railroad. In 1897, the inhabitants of San Jose were able to attend the memorable inauguration of the National Theater which was paid for by the coffee and banana farmers who desired to have well known European Opera singers sing locally.