Coffee has been grown in Costa Rica since the early 19th century. When the country declared independence from Spain in 1821, the municipal government gave away free coffee seeds to encourage production. Records show that there were around 17,000 coffee trees in Costa Rica at that point. In 1825 the government continued its promotion of coffee by exempting it from certain taxes and, in 1831, the government decreed that if anyone grew coffee on fallow land for five years, they could claim ownership of the land.
Costa Rica is the most developed and is considered the safest, of the Central American countries. This makes it a very popular tourist destination, especially with North Americans. Tourism has not only displaced coffee as the country’s primary source of income but ecotourism is particularly popular here and it is possible to visit and take tours of many coffee farms in the country. Typically those offering tours are the larger farms, with less focus on absolute quality, but it is nonetheless interesting to have the opportunity to see how coffee farming works up close.