Prominent Costa Ricans contributed to the development of coffee, and the first to cultivate it was the priest Félix Velarde, who, in 1816, made reference to having a plot of land cultivated with the beans. Don Mariano Montealegre was the crop’s main promoter during the decade from 1830 – 1840.
Costa Rica was the first Central American country to establish the budding coffee industry. The first two Heads of State, Juan Mora Fernández and Braulio Carrillo, supported the development of the coffee enterprise. They saw coffee not only as a product that was capable of stimulating economic change for Costa Rica, but also projected coffee production in the following years, during which the coffee bean would become the product that gave rise to Costa Rica’s economic development.
As the first plants grew, Costa Ricans’ interest in its cultivation increased, and by 1821 there were 17,000 coffee trees in production, with the first export of two quintals of coffee to Panama in 1820. The exportation of coffee to the United States began in 1860, and initially, the weight was almost 25% of the all exported coffee.
Authorities of the Republic implemented a series of measures aimed at promoting the coffee industry, among which are notable: 1821: The Municipality of San José distributed free coffee plants among residents; 1825: The Government exempts coffee from tithe payments; 1831: The National Assembly decreed that any one who grew coffee for five years on idle land could claim the land as their own; 1840: a decree is issued to plant coffee on the undeveloped land to the west of San José (Pavas