Coffee: The Pride of Ticos

At the end of the 18th century, coffee came to Costa Rica for the first time. It was also the first Central American country to develop this important crop. In those remote times, our country had subsistence agriculture, but with the arrival of coffee in these lands, the way of thinking of the Costa Ricans began to change.

The richness of Costa Rica lies in the cultural diversity of its people: coffee is a culture in itself with a tradition built day by day, with a gained value for the people who are dedicated to its cultivation.

Costa Rican coffee is the main engine of development for the national economy. It was from almost the birth of the country as an independent nation, that coffee cultivation in the mid-nineteenth century had social and cultural consequences.

Coffee has been very important for our country, which is why it has lent its identity to create symbols and stereotypes that are of great emblematic importance for Costa Ricans.

By the time of independence, in 1821 Costa Rica was the poorest and most backward population of the Spanish colonial empire. However, by the year 1830, the country showed progress and economic recovery due to the abundant profits from coffee exported to England. In this way, coffee was positioned as the first and only export product of the country at that time.

Today the coffee themes are one of the most represented motifs in the arts, crafts, folklore and popular culture of the Ticos.

Coffee for Costa Rica became a civilizing agent, the “grain of gold” for the prosperity that was obtained from it; it became a great economic and social advance that was strengthened with the process of idealization and construction of national identity.

And this is how it deserved the title of “grain of gold” since the profits that were obtained from it allowed the development of banking, the road that connects San Jose and Puntarenas, the construction of railways to the Pacific and the Atlantic, the emergence of hospital services and education among other advances.

Over time, a class of medium and small peasant farmers was formed in the territory of the central valley, occupying large areas for the cultivation of coffee, thus forming a social and political elite enriched by the cultivation of coffee. This oligarchy marked the political destinies of Costa Rica for many years.

The government introduced policies that were achieved in the coffee industry, including the granting of land for coffee plantings and the delivery of coffee plants to farmers interested in producing coffee.

In the 19th century, coffee was the main part of banknotes and coins in Costa Rica; in fact, its image is present in the national coat of arms. The folkloric literature captured the genotype of the peasant of the central valley with his jovial air, simple good-natured and somewhat naive.

National art and architecture had coffee as its main impulse. The National Theater of Costa Rica built in 1897 was mainly financed with taxes from the sale of coffee. It is considered a jewel and historical heritage of the nation, the decorations and works of art present in this building are allusive to this bonanza obtained by the magnificent export of grain.

Coffee arrived to make a myth-symbol of a successful past and the promise of an assured future. This is how the idea arises that in Costa Rica “the best coffee in the world” is produced

Stereotypes of Coffee in Costa Rica

The carts are an interpretative art; they are intimately linked to coffee, within the coffee culture in Costa Rica, and have a tradition that dates back more than three centuries.

Being a resource through which the past is idealized, coffee continues to be manifest in new forms of expression such as the cultivation of organic coffee, “ecological and in harmony with the environment”

The production of Gourmet coffee, the coffee tours that attract foreign tourists, the most diverse handicrafts associated with the cultivation of coffee: the coffee pot and the tin cup, the painted cart and its yokes of oxen loaded with coffee beans, the little houses of Abobe, the peasant woman with her colored petticoat, the baskets to collect the grain, the handkerchief, the machete and the peasant.

At present, although it is no longer the only export product that the country has, coffee remains positioned among the most valuable products of Costa Rica and is recognized worldwide for its high quality.

  • Published in Culture

Dranguet House: attractive and indispensable destination in the Coffee Route (+Photos)

The value and transcendence of Santiago de Cuba’s Dranguet House makes the institution an indispensable destination in the so-called Ruta del Café (Coffee Route), an attractive Cuban tourist product that is promoted worldwide today.

Last Wednesday, French journalists, photographers, tour operators and other specialists linked to tourism industry knew about the wealth it collects in its permanent showroom, which some call “Coffee Museum”. They were visiting the place to see at first hand the potential attraction this institution may have in the European market.

Dranguet House suggested the visitors the specialized guide where the history of coffee is explained, ranging from its arrival in America and Cuba, the large number of the crop-related edges, processing and tasting of the aromatic grain, until reaching a newly opened room that exhibits the different ways to prepare the famous beverage, among the most consumed ones in the world.

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The visitors highly praised all the culture linked to coffee, which covers craftwork, Cuban traditions, such as handmade processing (roasting, shelling and filtering in the coffee sock) and the old machines that are already obsolete worldwide, but constitute irrefutable evidence of the transcendence of this grain in different nations.

Coffee cultivation has linked Cuba and France for several centuries now, a bond that reaches us today through an international project called “Los Caminos del Café” (Coffee Roads), financed by the European Union, the French-Belgian Molongo Foundation and Santiago de Cuba City Historian’s Office, which has enabled the restoration of both the Dranguet House and the old “La Fraternidad” Coffee Farm.

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PhD in Science Yaumara López Segrera, Coordinator on the Cuban side of “Los Caminos del Café”, claimed that the works in that old settlement not only will benefit those rural communities based on the precepts of responsible tourism development, but also will become an attractive proposal, because the site will be a living museum, which parallely will exhibit the cultivation and processing of the aromatic grain in its modern and old-fashioned ways.

López also explained that thanks to “Los Caminos del Café” project Santiago de Cuba City has today an institution that shows, in the broadest possible way, how attractive coffee is and its links with the industry, arts and agriculture.

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As part of their tour, the French visitors not only will come closer to “Coffee Route”, but will also get to know the attractions of “La Ruta del Cacao” (Cacao Route), journey that will take them to such destinations as Baracoa, Bayamo, Gibara, etc.

The mountainous geography of Santiago de Cuba has great part of the traces of the Haitian-French immigration of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a legacy that translates into old farms, which are both World Heritage sites and attractions for visitors, since they show the splendor of a time in the Caribbean and a cultural heritage that is combined, in addition, with the attractive nature of the area and the numerous traditions, thus making up a tourist product of one-of-a-kind characteristics.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials
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