Living in a coffee-producing country, we have the opportunity to view firsthand the changes that plantations go through in the course of a year. Every country’s production schedule varies, depending on the specifics of its geography and climate. In Costa Rica, we have one harvest per year, and the cycle starts in April with the first flowering.
If you ever get the chance to visit a Costa Rican coffee plantation during April and May, take it! You’ll experience a perfume unlike any other: the smell of coffee plants in bloom. You’ll also see a sea of white, as the fluffy flowers cover every plant within view. Each blossom represents a future coffee bean.
During the months after blooming, maintenance of the coffee plantation is key. This period coincides with the rainy season in Costa Rica, when cooler temperatures slow down coffee maturation. Although plants love the rain, they also require constant care and vigilance in order to prevent damage.
Beans in each coffee region of Costa Rica mature at different times, but the first harvests generally begin in October and November. Plantations harvest only the ripest cherries, in order to ensure the quality of Costa Rica’s world-famous arabica coffee. Harvest starts slowly, then ramps up to peak harvest season.
At the end of the calendar year, the coffee harvest in Costa Rica is peaking. For us, the holidays are marked by the smell of freshly picked coffee cherries and the image of fully loaded trucks headed to the mill. We celebrate the changing year as we celebrate the harvest of a crop that has brought renown and prosperity to our small country.
As the calendar year gets started, the production calendar is winding down. February and March mark the end of the harvest, and migrant coffee pickers go back to their homes in Nicaragua, Panama, and parts of Costa Rica.
Once again, the coffee plants begin their annual transformation, starting the journey to producing our favorite bean.
Have you visited a coffee plantation? Tell us what you thought!