Greetings from Costa Rica!

Our team of nineteen arrived at the UGA Costa Rica campus on Saturday morning and immediately began immersing ourselves in the coffee culture. Our first stop was to Gilberth’s farm where we learned about the history of Costa Rican coffee, as well as Costa Rica’s relationship with the rest of the world. After our history lesson, Gilberth gave us a tour of his farm that included sampling coffee cherries, oranges, and raw sugar cane.

I thoroughly enjoyed tasting a sweet ripe coffee cherry and fresh sugar cane for the first time, but my favorite part of the whole visit was hearing Gilberth’s rendition of Costa Rica and China’s unlikely relationship.

According to Gilberth, (and confirmed by Google) in 2007, China sent a representative to Costa Rica with the intention of discussing the possibility of importing more Costa Rican coffee to China. In recent years, China’s younger population has demanded higher quality Arabica Coffee, which is significantly better than the Robusta variety grown in most of the world. Through a series of events that we will never truly know, the Chinese representative was accidentally served some of Costa Rica’s worst grade coffee, grown in low elevation. To everyones surprise, the representative loved the weaker flavor and wanted to import as much of this low grade coffee as possible.

Can you imagine how the server must have felt in the time between realizing he or she made the mistake and the unlikely positive outcome? I would have been trembling in fear of losing my job- or worse! What would have surely been the end of a servers career, turned out to be one of the greatest trade relationships Costa Rica has, and created a market for a product that was not desired by their other trade partners like the United States.