When you think of delicious coffee, what countries come to mind? Though it provides under 1% of the world’s coffee, there’s a good chance that Costa Rica is on your list, because it’s well-known for its high-quality, uniquely-flavored beans. The country has been producing coffee for export since 1779, and the first beans reached the United States in 1860, so Americans developed a taste for its unique flavors long ago.
Costa Rican coffee can be a great choice for home brewing. But with hundreds of brands available for purchase online, how do you make sure you’re buying the best beans? Don’t worry: we’re here to help. We’ve put together a guide to the five best Costa Rican coffees available in 2020. For our detailed reviews, we compared roast level, freshness, cultivation area, flavor, and price to help you find your new favorite coffee beans. Read on for our ranking of the best Costa Rican coffees, plus a quick guide to help you shop.
|Volcanica Coffee Costa Rica Peaberry Coffee|
|Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC, Tarrazu||Medium||4.50/5|
|Teasia Coffee, Costa Rica, Single Origin||Medium||4.40/5|
|Kirkland Signature Costa Rica Whole Bean Coffee||Dark||4.25/5|
|Cafe Britt Tarrazu Montecielo Ground Coffee|
(Best Ground Coffee Pick)
Sweet, flavorful, and dense, these are premium, hand-picked peaberry beans, grown in volcanic soil at an elevation of over 3,000 feet. Volcanica roasts and ships coffee beans every day. Through Amazon, you can expect to receive them between four days and two weeks of the roasting date. The company promises a tight inventory to prevent you from receiving stale beans.
Volcanica’s 16-ounce bags are more expensive, but still a decent price for single-origin, gourmet beans.
The Costa Rica Tarrazu Coffee from Fresh Roasted is another high-quality option, consisting of single-origin medium roast whole beans from the famed Tarrazu region. These beans are grown at over 4,000 feet, offering a distinct high-altitude flavor.
We found these beans to be roasted a little too dark to qualify as medium roast. Though oily, they are very flavorful, with slight acidity and notes of honey and chocolate.
Despite its name, Fresh Roasted is not perfectly focused on freshness. We found that beans ordered through Amazon often arrived one month after the roast date, somewhat outside of the ideal one to two weeks.
Teasia Coffee’s single-origin Costa Rican beans are attractively priced, with good flavor. These medium-roast whole beans have high acidity and a lightly fruity flavor, with hints of caramel and chocolate. They are quite smooth and not too bitter.
These beans are grown at an even higher altitude, over 5,000 feet. The handwritten artisanal roaster’s name and expiration date on the bag are nice touches, though we’d prefer a roast date. Teasia also donates a portion of the profits from each bag to local charities.
Unfortunately, these beans do not ship quickly. We found that up to 10 months can pass between roasting and receiving the beans.
These Costa Rican whole beans from Kirkland are a fan-favorite for their low price, consistent dark roast, and rich, full flavor. They’re not single-origin, but if you’re willing to forgo gourmet beans and you can find them at a good price, they offer great value.
When they’re fresh, these coffee beans are very good. However, since you’re not getting these directly from a roaster, the freshness can vary quite a bit.
These beans are sold through Costco, but may not be available at your nearest location. You can generally find them through Amazon and costco.com, but the price varies depending on the retailer.
Do you prefer the convenience of ground coffee? Cafe Britt’s Tarrazu Montecielo ground coffee could be your new favorite. From the sought-after Tarrazu region of Costa Rica, this ground coffee is a well-priced, dark-roast option with flavors of chocolate and fruit.
This coffee is certified as SHB, or Strictly Hard Bean, meaning that it is entirely grown at over 4,500 feet in elevation. We found it to taste less fresh, partly because it comes pre-ground, but it still has plenty of flavor. If you want to learn more about the roasting process, you can even read about this famous company’s Costa Rican roaster, Don Miguel.
Now that you’ve taken a look at our favorite Costa Rican coffee options, it’s time to make your choice. But how do you know what you should be looking for? We hope this quick guide to the features of Costa Rican coffee will help you sort through the options and make a great choice.
There are four types of coffee beans grown around the world, the most important of which are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans are the highest-quality coffee beans available, offering a subtle range of flavors and smooth, non-bitter taste. Robusta beans, though easier to grow, are less desirable for their stronger, more bitter flavor and higher caffeine content. If you’re looking for excellent coffee, you’ll want to seek out 100% Arabica beans. Costa Rica makes this easier for you: since 1989, growing Robusta beans in the country has been illegal.
And what are peaberry beans? Sweet, dense, and flavorful, the peaberry bean is not a variety but a fairly rare mutation. Regular coffee beans grow as twinned beans together in a pod, while peaberries produce just one bean per fruit. As a result, they’re small and dense, packed with flavor from having absorbed all of the plant’s nutrients. The mutation, which has to be sorted by hand, affects only five percent of the world’s coffee beans. This makes peaberries both rare and labor-intensive. Because of this, they’re sold at a premium.
Coffee beans start to lose flavor as soon as they’re roasted, as they come into contact with oxygen. Costa Rican coffees are largely roasted in-country and then exported, so you may want to keep a close eye on your bag’s roast date. A maximum of one to two weeks between roasting and consuming your beans is the gold standard.
Another big factor in freshness is whether you purchase whole beans or ground coffee. Because grinding speeds up that freshness-killing oxidation, you’ll get the most flavor if you grind your beans just before brewing them. So if your priority is flavor, you’ll probably want to stick with whole bean coffee.
Costa Rica’s climate is ideal for coffee growing. Located comfortably in the so-called Bean Belt, the section of the world where coffee grows, between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, this tiny, coastal country boasts a wet, tropical climate, high-altitude mountains, and fertile volcanic soil. Costa Rican coffee is renowned for its rich aroma, bright acidity, light body, and fruity, floral notes.
Depending on growing conditions, coffee beans from different areas can carry very distinct flavors. To get the most unique coffee flavors, you may want to try single-origin beans, which grow in just one region. Costa Rica’s most famous coffee-growing region is called Tarrazu. These distinctive beans grow between 4,000 and 6,000 feet of altitude. This high-altitude area produces 35% of Costa Rica’s coffee, and 95% of that coffee is certified SHB, or Strictly Hard Bean. SHB coffee grows at over 4,500 feet in elevation. At that altitude, these plants grow more slowly, forming dense, flavorful beans. Though you’ll pay a premium, if you’re looking for amazing flavor, you may want to keep an eye out for SHB certifications and beans from the Tarrazu area.
Here are some other types of beans we’ve reviewed:
The results? Our favorite Costa Rican coffee is Volcanica Coffee’s Costa Rica Peaberry, a sweet, flavorful medium roast made from premium peaberry beans. Our runner up, a rich, tasty medium roast, is Fresh Roasted Coffee’s Costa Rica Tarrazu. And if you prefer to buy ground coffee, you may want to take a look at Cafe Britt’s well-priced Tarrazu Montecielo, a smooth, chocolatey dark roast.
Costa Rican coffee is delicious and unique, so it’s easy to see why you’d want to seek it out. We hope our comprehensive reviews of the five best Costa Rican coffees, along with our tips on how to pick out great beans, help you find a new favorite. With all those great flavors out there, what are you waiting for?
Table of Contents