Costa Rica Sustainability | Why we love to work with farms from Costa Rica

The coffee seed hits Costa Rica

Costa Rica has been a coffee-growing country since the early 19th century. When the country’s independence from Spain was declared in 1821, the municipal Government gave away free coffee seeds to encourage production and records show there were around seventeen thousand trees in Costa Rica at that point. After a couple decades of growth, export to England followed in 1843 and coffee became Costa Rica’s sole export for half a century (1846-1890). With such demand for these magical beans, the local economy and infrastructure grew. First railroads were built to link the country to the Atlantic. The establishment of the Anglo-Costa Rican bank aimed at supporting the coffee industry in its growth.

Status quo – facing the crisis of global warming

Fast forward 130 years to 2020 and the world is now facing the environmental crisis of global warming. In 2006 Costa Rica decided to respond and align its national priorities with global climate action. The Government prepared a far-reaching climate change strategy and committed to becoming a carbon-neutral country by 2021. In the words of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, “we do this with the hope that, eventually, we will be able to show the world that what ultimately needs to be done, can be done”. As a small country, this is Costa Rica’s significant contribution to the climate change issue.
Considering the strong history of the Costa Rican Coffee Industry and its impact on the country’s economic growth it was no surprise to see that the Coffee Farmers were quick to act and embraced the Government’s goals, implementing sustainable farming and processing methods.
As part of efforts, Costa Rica made significant progress towards the consolidation of the world’s first NAMA (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action) Coffee, thanks to the support provided for the Project to Strengthen the Competitiveness and Low Carbon Performance of the Coffee Sector in Costa Rica.
Since the implementation of NAMA Café de Costa Rica, 22% of Costa Rican coffee is produced sustainably and emitting the least possible amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Over 8.900 producers on 25.000 hectares (22% of national production) were trained in the application of acceptable agricultural practices to adapt to changing climate conditions, minimize the impact of illnesses and pests, and maintain their crop’s productivity.
Employing a project promoting agroforestry systems in coffee plantations with the Fundación Banco Ambiental (FUNBAM), over 75.000 shade trees were planted in over 80 coffee plantations, contributing to the capture of carbon dioxide, adaptation to climate change and protection of biodiversity.

62 Costa Rican coffee mills (24% of those officially registered) were accompanied in the annual measurement of their GHG inventories by way of capacity building and technical assistance. After prioritizing future intervention areas, these mills carried out technological changes and optimized their processes to reduce GHG emissions, water and energy consumption.
To facilitate necessary investments and acquisition of equipment, a credit line of US$8 million was launched in cooperation with the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI). It will remain available to the entire sector during 2020.

Overall, the project managed to reduce over 38.000 tons of CO2e in coffee production and processing.

“When we started with this initiative, many coffee producers had no idea of the impact their crop had on climate change and vice versa – and even less of what to do about it. The activities we have carried out within the NAMA Café have led to almost a fifth of the national production now being low-carbon, sustainable and better adapted to climate change. In the upcoming five years we hope to include the rest of the sector by way of our extension personnel and technical advisers, as well as those producers and coffee mills which have participated in the initiative so far”, expressed Renato Alvarado, minister of Agriculture.
Costa Rica continues to impress with its progress in moving towards becoming carbon neutral with the Coffee Industry demonstrating to the rest of the world how much can be achieved in a relatively short time when everyone works together.

Why we love Costa Rican Coffee so much

Costa Rica’s success in sustainability has had a direct impact on us here at 19grams as we It’s no secret that we as a company have a close relationship with Costa Rica. Nor is it a secret that the Hacienda Sonora is still one of our favourite Costa Rican farms after almost 20 years of partnership and friendship. The dedication and passion with which the Guardìa family dedicates itself to coffee cultivation is incomparable. For us, it is always exciting to cup their coffees and bring them to Berlin.

The Hacienda Sonora is located in the West Valley of Costa Rica, which is one of the most famous coffee-growing areas in the country. On 75 hectares and in close proximity to the Poas volcano, the family cultivates a wide range of different varieties of coffee.
The Guardìas attach great importance to sustainable and integrative coffee cultivation. The cultivation and processing methods are environmentally friendly, the coffees grow under a protective roof of shade trees. A large part of the Finca is untouched virgin forest. A Quebrada that flows through the Finca drives a water turbine that supplies the entire Finca with “100% green energy” all year round.

Dive deeper into the way of growing coffee, Diego Guardìa follows, read our full interview here and learn everything about growing the precious geisha varietal.

Discover our Costa Rican Coffee and taste the sustainable approach in your cup.