To truly comprehend the meaning of coffee for Costa Rica, it is important to understand that for us it is an everyday matter, but that it also represents a great value for the country's socio- economical and environmental
system. Thus, we have created a concept, an advanced goal that continues to grow in favor of the achievement of each one of its three fundamental dimensions.
Fairness is the underlying value of a system that is unique in the world. Since 1933, this ethical trade system started developing in Costa Rica. In it, the Costa Rica Coffee Institute, ICAFE, plays a vital role. Through Law No. 2762, ICAFE defends and protects the transparent and ethical commerce of coffee between the four groups that compose the Costa Rican Coffee Sector: Producers, Millers, Roasters and Exporters.
In order to guarantee this ethical trade, ICAFE guides and registers every coffee sales and delivery transaction, taking into account the international market's real base. This results in the Producer receiving around 80% (national average) of the price per 60-kilogram bag sold. How does it work?
As a link to the Costa Rican Government, ICAFE is currently working on measures to foster the Coffee Sector and its operating capacity, with projects like the National Coffee Renovation Program 2010, which develops the ideal technical, operative and financial environment to replant 30% of the national coffee trees.
As a representative for the industry, ICAFE is also the first link with international organisms, such as the International Coffee Organization (ICO); the Association for Coffee Science and Information (ASIC); the Regional Cooperative Program for the Technological Development of Coffee in Central America, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica (PROMECAFE); the Inter-American Institute for Agricultural Cooperation (IICA); the Tropical Agronomical Research and Teaching Center (CATIE) —which houses one of the most complete coffee Germplasm banks in the world—The Campiñas Agronomical Institute, the Vico?a Federal University, the CENICAFE and the International Network for the Development of a Coffee Genome, among others.
For over 60 years, ICAFE, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, has developed intensive development and research on coffee. Technology transference is of great value when over 50.000 families depend on coffee production (90% medium and small Producers; owning an average area of 2,2 hectares).
In 1977, ICAFE created the Coffee Research Center, CICAFE, a 12-hectare experimental station dedicated to the research, development and transfer of knowledge to the national Coffee Sector through six regional offices that constitute its closest contact with the Producer, together with publications, trainings and a text messaging service on subjects such as plague control, phytopathology, mineral nutrition and others.
With the goal of continuously furthering our coffee's genetic improvement and adaptation to climate change, ICAFE researches and liberates new varieties of coffee trees with four main characteristics: vigor, resistance to plagues and diseases, great productivity increase and improved organoleptic characterization (quality of the cup).
When it comes to the protection of our existing coffee trees, ICAFE develops alternative means of plague and disease control, seeking to minimize environmental impact. In the Industrialization process, initiatives are developed to improve the control and diminution of residual waters, as well as the optimization and standardization of milling processes, using ISO norms as a base.
In Quality and Inspection, ICAFE works on the preservation and quality guarantee of export coffee through a process of control samples and inspection of outgoing containers. Our certified chemical laboratory analyzes soil samples that support an adequate fertilization; vegetable tissues; organic fertilizers; residual waters (final approval of dumping of treated waters) and the chemical composition of coffee, among others.
Within its environmental responsibility initiatives, Costa Rican coffee works in the larger frame of another development line: the environmental dimension.