A Slow Start
The exact date that coffee made its first appearance in Costa Rica is unknown. Sometime between 1791 and 1808 the governor of Costa Rica, Tomas de Acosta brought the first seeds over from Jamaica. Initial coffee development was slow (although there was already a agricultural basis in sugar cane and tobacco) because coffee cultivation was an unknown skill. A sense of adventure was needed to pursue such a dangerous task, especially with such a lack of capital for investment and no real transport system, meaning no guaranteed means to market.
The Costa Rican climate is perfect for coffee growth: rich volcanic soils, high natural fertilization, optimal altitude, excellent distribution of rainfall and mild temperatures all year round. (www.incostarica.net) Because of this the government decided to offer economic incentives to stimulate coffee cultivation. In 1821, with the attainment of their independence from Spain, the San Jose town council issued a decree offering free state land and twenty five free coffee seedling to anyone willing to plant them. Cartago and La Union stated to require families to plant 20-25 coffee bushes in their backyard. In 1825 the first chief of state in the new republic, Juan Mora Fernandez, exempted coffee from the dieznos tax. Then in 1831 another decree was issued, this one stating that anyone who cultivated coffee on state land for five years would then obtain ownership of that land. These incentives resulted in the growth of coffee into one of the significant crops in the region and the first major export.(Peasants of Costa Rica and the Development of Agrarian Capitalism, Mitchell A. Seligson)
Ripe coffee beans