The presidents of Costa Rica and Colombia agreed this week to a joint initiative to promote and defend high-quality coffee in order to increase prices and income for farmers in both nations.
The announcement came during Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s official visit to Costa Rica, marking his first trip to Central America since assuming office last year. In a press conference with Costa Rican leader Rodrigo Chaves, Petro emphasized the need for producing countries to capture more value from their premium coffee.
“The purpose is for the added value of our coffee to be generated in our own producing countries, and not have that experience that has left little wealth in our countries from selling coffee in grain or raw form,” Petro stated.
Both Colombia and Costa Rica have seen decreasing coffee exports recently, prompting the leaders’ pledge to work together. By differentiating their coffees via denomination of origin certifications and promoting unique qualities, they aim to transition away from selling raw commodity beans and towards specialized, higher-priced coffee.
“Coffee, should cease to be a ‘commodity,'” noted Chaves, echoing Petro’s sentiments. “We are still coffee people, we have diversified, but we are leaving money on the table.”
Beyond jointly promoting their premium beans abroad, the partnership will explore opportunities for increased domestic coffee processing and value addition. This aims to nurture a richer coffee culture directly within Colombia and Costa Rica as well.
“We have talked about joining forces” between the two historic coffee producers, Petro emphasized.
In addition to the coffee alliance, the visiting delegation discussed cooperation on tourism, security, and managing regional migration flows. The forced migration situation through the Darien Gap jungle on the Colombia-Panama border was noted as requiring a coordinated Latin American response.
Over 307,000 migrants have crossed into Panama already this year, with many eventually arriving in Costa Rica en route to North America.
While short on details, the high-level coffee agreement signifies important coordination between two influential players. As coffee production faces pressures from climate change and economic volatility globally, joint strategies to boost sustainability and income for growers are increasingly necessary.
Colombia and Costa Rica also share an opportunity to shift perceptions and educate consumers about the craft behind a truly exceptional cup of coffee. If realized, this vision could extend benefits throughout local coffee-growing communities in both nations.