Ascending to Excellence: How altitude influences the coffee quality
Location: Copey de Dota. Does it even matter?
We´re going to go back to school for a second here. If you remember high school biology, you´re wise to the fact that most life on Earth exists as a result of photosynthesis. Well, your coffee beans are also sustained by photosynthesis (and your morning routine is probably sustained by your coffee). Photosynthesis is the process by which plants use sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to create oxygen and energy in the form of sugar. We know… you get it!
We’re almost done with technicism. But, basically at lower temperatures the rate of photosynthesis slows. This is why altitude plays an important role in coffee quality. Coffee grown in higher altitudes will grow slower due to lower temperatures, which leads to more complex flavors in coffee beans.
Coffee connoisseurs know that cooler temperatures during cultivation lead to a more robust and nuanced flavor profile in the beans.
When we talk about low temperatures in our coffee farm, we´re talking about something as low as 55 F or lower. We know, it’s not a freezing winter, snowy, temperature you’re probably used to, but for a tropical country, it pretty damn freezing. Low temperatures also mean a decrease in production. Since it´s cold, it takes longer for coffee plants to produce beans.
High-quality coffee is produced mostly from the Arabica coffee species. This coffee plant was brought from Africa to Costa Rica a long time ago and thrived in our mountain regions due to our twin tropical climate conditions. Heavy rainfall and high altitude create the ideal coffee growing conditions with a richer aroma, bolder body, multifaceted flavor, and rare acidity.
Our farms are located in Los Santos, Tarrazú, Dota district at 2000 masl
You’re Dota coffee beans are grown in the ideal altitude zone of 1,900 to 2,100 meters above sea level (MASL). Above this altitude, it’s not recommended to grow coffee crops, since coffee plants have a hard time adapting to the cold, coffee loves being warm too! So, we´re growing at the edge of our limits (YOLO!). Our farm is located in the mountains of Copey, within the district of Dota/Tarrazú, in the province of San Jose, Costa Rica – and you thought Edmonton, Alberta was long to spell.
This area is renowned for its exceptional coffee production and has received the prestigious Cup of Excellence for five years in a row.
Tarrazú is a renowned coffee region that has produced Costa Rica Cup of Excellence winners in 4 of the 5 past years. When you think about winning a Cup of Excellence, imagine something similar to winning the FIFA World Cup, but instead of teams it’s farms competing, and instead of players it’s coffee beans batteling it out, and, well you get the point. This makes Tarrazú the best coffee-growing region in the country
Keep in mind: high-quality coffee must always indicate where its coming from. The best stuff usually gives you info about its origin!
Final education pieces, when you’re buying coffee beans, be mindful that if you don’t see anything about altitude or region of origin it’s probably a low-quality coffee, and you could feed it to your cat or other animal with a less discerning pallet. If you know the region of origin or even better, farm of origin, then you have traceability. Most conventional coffees are mixed with coffees from God knows how many farms and regions – those beans are untraceable and no one knows where that dirty coffee has been or if it’s washed its hands.
There is an old Costa Rican saying: the best coffee is the one that you enjoy. So why not enjoy a fully traceable, high-altitude, Costa Rican?!
PS: We're not making all of these up; you can find more information about Los Santos/Tarrazú coffee region here:
This is our neighbor who sold his coffee for USD$300 per pound: https://dailycoffeenews.com/2022/07/14/don-cayito-takes-top-spot-for-third-time-in-costa-rica-cup-of-excellence/