Coffee connoisseurs across the world prize Costa Rica’s gourmet beans, but local farmers warn that if a coronavirus-induced foreign labor shortage is not resolved soon, the raw material used to make countless lattes and espressos could spoil on the bush.
The prospect of a bumper crop this year for the relatively small Central American coffee producer has grown bittersweet as fears grow the harvest may not be picked by the mostly Nicaraguan and Panamanian hands who traditionally do the work.
Laborers from Panama and Nicaragua typically account for about two-thirds of Costa Rica’s coffee crop workforce.
“We’re extremely worried. We depend on foreign labor to pick our coffee and now we don’t know if we can count on it,” said Geovanny Rodriguez, a farmer from Santa Maria de Dota, in the mountainous Los Santos region, about 40 miles (64 km) south of the capital, San Jose.