If you’re in a hurry and just want to know what the best Costa Rican coffee is, I recommend Volcanica’s Costa Rica Peaberry as the best overall.
Costa Rica isn’t the world’s biggest producer of coffee by a long shot.
Even so, it’s one of those regions that instantly springs to mind when you think about the very best in the business.
To help you start exploring this corner of the coffee world, I’ve picked out five of my favorite brands.
These are the brands that made my shortlist for the best Costa Rican coffee. I’ll review each one in this article:
- Volcanica Costa Rica Peaberry *** TOP PICK ***
- Starbucks Reserve Costa Rica Coffee
- Fresh Roasted LLC Tarrazu
- Copper Moon Coffee Costa Rican
- Doka Estate Peaberry
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Before we move on to the individual reviews, it’s worth understanding a little more about what makes Costa Rican coffee so special.
(Head back to my massive home coffee brewing guide when you’re done for more help with this side of kitchen life!)
What’s Different About Costa Rican Coffee?
It’s mainly to do with the growing conditions. The environment coffee’s grown in has a huge impact on the quality of the resulting bean.
In the case of Costa Rica, the temperature remains extremely stable throughout the growing season. There’s just enough rain, and just enough dry periods to ensure outstanding results every harvest.
Coffee thrives at high altitude too, and Costa Rica is nothing if not mountainous!
The quality of the coffee is aided further by the nutrient-rich soil, which is boosted by deep layers of volcanic ash.
The end result is a very consistent, truly delicious cup of coffee, regardless of the precise region it’s been grown in.
Why Is Costa Rican Coffee So Good?
The key to the consistent quality of Costa Rica coffee beans as a whole lies with a law passed by the government around 30 years ago.
This law explicitly banned the production of Robusta beans within the country. If you buy a Costa Rica coffee, you’re guaranteed a drink brewed from Arabica beans.
Robusta beans tend to be easier to grow, but the resulting coffee tends to be more bitter. It also packs a more intense caffeine punch.
Arabica beans, by contrast, have a more complex flavor profile. You’ll notice more delicate flavors throughout the drink.
This focus on quality doesn’t come without its risks, however.
As the name suggests Robusta beans are much hardier, and can cope well with unexpected seasonal climate change.
A good harvest of Arabica beans, on the other hand, requires very specific and dependable growing conditions. The good news is that the country’s climate is remarkably stable.
As long as that continues, the Costa Rican government can be confident that their country’s coffee output will continue to stand for consistent quality.
In my personal opinion, only Ethiopian coffee can hold a candle to Costa Rica’s output. In my opinion, both are essential stop-offs on your journey through the coffee world!
Where Does Costa Rican Coffee Grow?
The overall geography and climate of Costa Rica is hugely beneficial as I’ve already mentioned.
There are eight distinct growing regions across the country though. The delicate changes in climate across each one lead to some subtle differences.
Here’s a list of the regions, along with a few notes on what makes each region’s coffee so noteworthy.
- Central Valley – Chocolate, fruit, honey
- Tres Rios – Balanced acidity
- Turrialba – Mild acidity, gentle aromas
- Brunca – Citrus notes
- Guanacaste – Smooth, low acidity
- Tarrazu – Chocolate, orange, vanilla
- Orosi – Balanced flavors
- West Valley – Peach, honey, vanilla
How Should You Brew Costa Rican coffee?
There’s no particular brewing method that works better than any other when it comes to working with Costa Rican coffee brands.
With that said – for convenience and quality – you can’t go wrong with the classic French Press method.
Grab that cafetiere, grind up some fresh whole beans, and you’ll be well on your way to sipping some of the world’s best coffee!
If you are buying lighter roasts though, you might like to try the pour over method instead. This does a great job of bringing out some of the milder notes you’ll find in these coffee beans.
A Note On Roasting
There’s one thing to be aware of when buying Costa Rican coffee.
The vast majority of the country’s coffee exports are roasted in-country. It’s really important to check the roasting date on the batch you buy, and use them up within a week or two.
For the best results you want the least possible time between picking, roasting and brewing your cup!
Costa Rican Coffee Reviews
Let’s go into a little more detail on the different brands I like the most
First up, let’s do a quick summary on the peaberry.
The peaberry is a mutation in the coffee plant, which causes one – not two – coffee beans to form within each fruit.
(I’ve got a peaberry guide elsewhere on Viva Flavor if you’d like to read more about the bigger picture).
They’re a little more expensive due to the unique roasting approach required, but many argue that the richer, sweeter flavor is worth the cost.
I certainly think Volcanica’s signature Costa Rican brand is a fantastic starting point for anyone who doesn’t know where to get started.
This is a mild, but sweet and bright brew with little hints of citrus running all the way through the flavor profile.
It’s grown in the Tres Rios region, which means you can expect a very balanced drink overall. It’s also certified as a product grown in a rainforest-friendly manner.
As a medium roast bean I would recommend starting out with the French Press method if you decide to brew up a cup of this stuff.
Although it’s a pricier batch of beans, I find you need to use less of them so cost-wise it’s one of the more accessible peaberry brands.
You won’t often find me flying the flag for Starbucks on Viva Flavor. Credit where it’s due though – this stuff really is better than you might expect from such a dominating brand.
It’s another medium roast bean, which again makes it ideal for the French Press method of brewing.
As for taste, you can expect chocolate and citrus notes to run right throughout the cup.
Purists, however, might want to take note of one thing.
Although precise detail isn’t provided, you should be aware that Starbucks blends in other Latin American beans to round this off.
So, there’s no specific region mentioned, which makes it hard to pin down the precise origins.
The thing is? It does actually taste really good. It’s hard to recommend as a pure Costa Rican brand, but at the same time it’s not exactly a disappointing brew!
If you’re still on the fence, you can always try a cup of the stuff at your local Starbucks. That’s a cost-effective way of finding out whether this is the right sort of bean for you.
I’ve yet to be disappointed by a batch of coffee from Fresh Roasted, regardless of the country of origin. It’s super-dependable stuff and well worth adding to your list of trusted coffee suppliers.
The company’s signature Costa Rican offering originates in the Tarrazu region of the country, which is one of the most popular.
Expect flavor twists in the form of honey and chocolate as you sip your way through a cup of this single origin, whole bean coffee.
Although it’s only a medium roast, it holds nothing back in terms of flavor and packs a surprisingly meaty punch.
All coffee suppliers have had to keep a close eye on their environmental credentials lately, and Fresh Roasted goes further than most.
All the coffee they import is sustainably sourced, then roasted and blended in the USA.
The roasting process is friendly to the environment as well, making use of something called a Loring Roaster (hit that link if you want to find out more).
Tarrazu coffee is also typically grown by small-scale farmers. That means you’re supporting small businesses by opting for this bean.
Copper Moon’s Costa Rican offering is another bean that hails from Tarrazu.
The medium roast beans brew into a wonderfully silky smooth drink, with an almost wine-like complexity. There’s a little hint of chocolate in this one as well.
I find they work particularly well for cold brew coffee. If you want to try this brewing method out for yourself, take a look at my cold brew coffee guide.
Copper Moon’s another company that puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to the environment and social responsibility.
Working closely with small-scale farmers, the company’s created a socially responsible global supply chain for all of its coffee brands – not just this Costa Rican bean.
This particular item used to be available in a smaller 2lb bag, but it’s currently only available as a 5lb package. That’s good for at least a couple of months, but you’ll need to store it very carefully.
I love this stuff, but if you’re not sure if this is the Costa Rican coffee for you, then you might want to sample the others first.
Now this is the real deal: grown, harvested, roasted, packaged and shipped by the Doka Estate, Costa Rica.
Like Volcanica’s Costa Rican coffee, this is a peaberry bean, which means you’re in for a somewhat sweeter and richer brew.
Expect a lively drink here, low in acidity but bright and with plenty of lime running through the flavor profile.
As it’s pure peaberry it’s a little more expensive than some of the other brands I’ve looked at in this review. I always like the option to buy directly from the source at least.
Just make sure you have a good container to store this coffee in. It’s really well vacuum-packed, but it doesn’t seal up easily once you’ve opened it.
If you need a bit of help with this sort of thing in general, go and have a read of an article I wrote recently that will help you store coffee correctly.
What’s The Best Costa Rican Coffee?
The five coffees I’ve reviewed for this article are all outstanding in their own right. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them.
If I had to recommend one brand as a starting point for your exploration of Costa Rican coffee though, then I recommend the Volcanica Costa Rica Peaberry.
It really is the best example of what makes Costa Rican coffee so special. If you love a cup of this stuff, you can then go and explore some of the other top brands I’ve highlighted here.