The social impact of a coffee cup
For 200 years, coffee production in Costa Rica has had a positive impact helping improve socioeconomic conditions for more than 100,000 families in the country.
One of the reasons for this is thanks to rural cooperatives and other types of group associations, coffee can be produced in small farms giving work opportunity for family members and neighbors. After the yearly harvest, the fruit from a group of farms can be jointly hulled, dried, and selected for exporting or for local roasting and consumption.
Coffee has been the economic base for families to be able to improve housing conditions, a study opportunity for young people, and an important part of grassroots development by strengthening the capacity of rural communities to organize.
The Instituto del Café de Costa Rica (ICAFE) was established in 1933 to organize, coordinate, rule, research and facilitate coffee production, processing, and marketing. This has been hugely beneficial over the decades to the production of excellent quality coffee. Continuous care of plant health and best harvesting and processing practices have over the years built a great image for the quality of Costa Rican coffee.
Due to large global coffee inventories caused mostly by massive production in a few countries and to market speculation, international prices for coffee go through big fluctuations and, in recent years, have been extremely low. The only way for small farmers to survive with this low price is by shortening the commercial steps to go from the farm to the final consumer.
Here at Café Monteverde, located in the northern Costa Rican mountains, many small farms near the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, produce coffee with environmentally friendly practices. Five main Arabica varietals (Catuai, Caturra, Venecia, Obatá and Geisha) planted amongst biological corridors that serve also as wind barriers, combined with bananas, plantains, oranges, and many more food crops, benefit more than fifty families with the yearly crop.
The long-term sustainability of this production effort will depend to a great extent on being able to shorten the commercial distance between these farms and the consumer. Our direct relation with small coffee roasting operations in Montana, Texas and Florida, in the USA, and the possibility to ship directly to clients overseas generates a value chain based on transparency, quality, and procuring a high social impact to the farming communities that produce coffee.