A five-year effort to add value to Costa Rican coffee will finally see fruit during next year’s harvest. Starting in 2008, some Costa Rican coffee will be marked with origin certifications from eight of the country’s most famous coffee-producing regions.
The effort is being led by the government- funded National Coffee Institute (ICAFE). Adolfo Lizano, assistant director of ICAFE, said the idea is to make a product that is more attractive to the European market, which appreciates location branding – for example, Champagne sparkling wine, or Manchego cheese.
“It’s a marketing strategy,” Lizano said, adding, “It’s very European. For example, in the United States, having a special name doesn’t work.”
Coffee from Brunca, Turrialba, Orosi, Los Santos, the Central Valley, western Central Valley, Tres Ríos and Guanacaste will get origin certification. Differences in altitude, climate and soil qualities mean discerning consumers will be able to appreciate the differences in the coffees, Lizano said.
The details of the norms and their application have yet to be set, but Lizano said the program will be up and running before the beginning of next year’s harvest.
The origin denomination program kicked off with a $200,000 grant from the Spanish International Cooperation Agency in 2001. The program is now funded as part of the ICAFE budget.
In 2006, Costa Rica exported $233.6 million worth of coffee, tea and spices. Roughly 30% of the country’s coffee exports end up in Europe, Lizano said.