Costa Rica coffee – put a sock in it (or put it in a sock!)


If you are a coffee lover, you’ll enjoy every cup you drink in Costa Rica, whether at an upscale hotel or local soda (small restaurant).  While you may have to go to specialty coffee shops in the US to get strong coffee (although many of these places do their own roasting and burn the coffee beans), anywhere you go here, you are served a full-bodied, freshly roasted cup of coffee.  Arabica, considered one of the premier coffee beans in the world, is the only variety allowed to be cultivated in Costa Rica according to a law passed in 1989.  Rich in flavor and low in caffeine, Arabica coffee grows best at elevations of 4200-5000 feet.  But what do you do with these heavenly beans to brew the perfect cup?  The traditional way of making coffee is to use a chorreador.  This is a simple stand made of wood or metal that holds a bag resembling the toe of a sock.  To make the coffee, you put the coffee in the “sock” in proportions to suit your taste, place the sock in the stand and slowly pour water that has come to a boil – but stopped boiling – through the sock into a recipient below.  Chorreadors and extra socks are available in grocery stores and markets.  To wash the sock, sprinkle it with salt and rub it between your fingers.  It is best if you start with a dry sock each time, so you may want to have extras on hand.  If you want to drink it the way most Costa Ricans do, you’ll add 2-3 teaspoons of sugar and some milk.  Little children love it and get their first taste in baby bottles!


One response to “Costa Rica coffee – put a sock in it (or put it in a sock!)

  1. While it is true that Arabica is the only coffee cultivar that can be legally grown in Costa Rica, it is also true that finding a good cup of coffee in Costa Rica can be challenging and, just being Arabica does little to ensure a quality coffee. Elevation, varietal, growing and processing methods all immensely affect quality. But perhaps the greatest impediment to finding the world-renowned quality of Costa Rican coffee in-country is the simple fact that it is world renowned! The vast majority of first-quality coffee is exported to a market willing to pay for this quality. What remains in-country is mostly second, or even third-quality (referencing what’s left after sorting the best beans first) coffee. It’s not uncommon to find sticks and twigs in some coffees and one sip of Cafe Rey (the biggest-selling national brand of coffee – our “foldgers”) and you’ll wonder what all the buzz about Costa Rican coffee was all about. Suffice to say, the more tourists, the better the coffee-generally. Better yet, go visit some farms or Co-ops and meet the people behind the bean. And bring home a chorreador! They’re awesome.

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