Costa Rica exports first batch of deforestation-free coffee

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  • By importing the first 19 kg, Italy will be the first European country to enjoy this coffee. 

  • The first free-deforestation harvest is achieved through a pilot project led by UNDP, ICAFE, and CoopeTarrazú. 

  • Costa Rica is pioneering compliance with European measures that will only allow market entry of products not linked to deforestation. 



San Jose, March 14, 2024.  Costa Rica proudly announced the dispatch of its first shipment of deforestation-free coffee to Trieste, Italy, marking a significant milestone in sustainable agriculture. The ceremonial sealing of the container took place at Exclusive Coffees in Alajuela, from which the coffee, purchased by Illy Café, was shipped. 


Comprising 275 sacks, each weighing 69 kg, this batch of coffee comes from Coope Tarrazú, produced by approximately 69 farmers in the country's south. This coffee is certified to have been cultivated on Costa Rican farms that did not deforest to expand their agricultural areas since December 2020. 


With this initiative, Costa Rica is positioned to meet the European Union's upcoming import requirements, set to take effect in 2025. Following the 2019 adoption of the Green Deal, a transformative strategy aimed at mitigating climate change and reshaping European economies and societies, the EU has made it clear that imports of products coming from deforestation will be prohibited. This rule applies to key commodities such as meat, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, soy, and wood. It is now up to traders to provide evidence of due diligence for each product, right from its origin, ensuring they comply with Europe's strict environmental standards. 


Gustavo Jiménez, the executive director of the Costa Rican Coffee Institute (ICAFE), expressed immense pride in this achievement, highlighting it as a significant moment for Costa Rica's coffee sector amid global environmental challenges. "We are thrilled to announce the first export of deforestation-free Costa Rican coffee, a testament to our country's leadership and commitment to environmental conservation. In just eight months, and with a robust institutional framework and dedication within the national coffee sector, we've met the compliance requirements set forth by the European Union's Green Deal," Jiménez stated. 


Echoing this sentiment, Juan Carlos Álvarez Ulate, general manager of CoopeTarrazú, remarked on the cooperative's honor in being the first to export deforestation-free coffee at a national level, aligning with the European Economic Community's demands. "This milestone represents a significant endeavor, including the georeferencing of our producers' farms. It positions us at the cutting edge of coffee cultivation, showcasing the excellence of our associates and staff. Our Cooperative leads in sustainability and research, a source of immense pride for us," said Álvarez Ulate. 


"Costa Rica is ahead of its time, ensuring the preservation of a crucial commercial avenue for coffee. This accomplishment underscores the nation's institutional structure and productive capability, rooted in a tradition of sustainability that encompasses economic, social, and environmental dimensions. We are proud to support our coffee producers and partners in this significant stride towards meeting Europe's 2025 regulations," stated José Vicente Troya, UNDP Resident Representative in Costa Rica.  


Echoing the importance of adapting to climate change, Carlos Isaac Pérez, Deputy Minister of Strategic Management at the Ministry of Environment and Energy, speaking at the container sealing event, Pérez emphasized, "Adapting to climate change is not just an option but a necessity to maintain our competitiveness. This initiative is a prime example of how adapting our agricultural practices to climate change can enhance our production. The natural resources on our farms are not just assets but partners in our production process."  


The path to deforestation free coffee, kickstarted 8 months ago 


To guarantee that the exported coffee crop was deforestation-free, producers engaged in an innovative pilot project aimed at establishing the due diligence of their production processes, marking a significant step towards environmental accountability and sustainability in Costa Rica's coffee sector. 


In 2023, as part of the REDD+ Results-Based Payments (PBR) Project, there was a push to expand efforts to combat deforestation by encouraging productive sectors to adopt more sustainable practices. Recognizing the coffee sector's vital role in the country's economy and its commitment to environmental sustainability, UNDP, and the Costa Rican Coffee Institute (ICAFE) launched the pilot project. This initiative was seen as a critical move towards the future implementation of the European Union's Green Deal, which significantly impacts Costa Rica, given that 38.4% of its coffee production is destined for the European market. 


Given its significant contribution to the country's overall coffee production, the choice to focus on the Los Santos area was strategic. The collaboration with the Coffee Growers Cooperative of Tarrazú (COOPETARRAZU R.L.) was pivotal. As the largest cooperative in the country, representing 4,500 producers and exporting 25.3% of its production to Europe—making it the third most important coffee exporter to the continent—COOPETARRAZU R.L.'s involvement was instrumental in the project's success. 


Xinia Chaves, a UNDP consultant and the pilot project leader, highlighted the importance of this partnership. "Working with the Los Santos area and COOPETARRAZU R.L. was a deliberate decision, recognizing their crucial role in national production and their significant exports to Europe. This collaboration is a step forward in ensuring that Costa Rica's coffee sector remains at the forefront of sustainable and environmentally responsible practices, aligning with international standards and regulations," Chaves explained. 


This concerted effort underlines Costa Rica's proactive stance in promoting sustainable coffee production, aligning with global environmental goals, and ensuring the country's coffee sector is well-prepared for the international market's evolving demands. 


For more information, you contact Yazmín Montoya at or by phone at 8821-6467, and David Ortiz at 


Key data on Costa Rican coffee: 

  • Costa Rica's coffee industry spans 93,697 hectares across seven regions and 49 cantons.

  • 27,393 family groups manage the production, emphasizing the sector's community-based approach.

  • Of these family groups, 85% are small-scale producers, showcasing the prevalence of smallholder farming in the industry. 

  • A significant 38.4% of Costa Rica's coffee production is destined for the European market, highlighting the importance of exports. 

  • 69 producers and 117 farms have successfully completed the due diligence process for deforestation-free coffee, aligning with global sustainability standards. 

  • The first harvest of deforestation-free coffee comprised 9,200 fanegas, marking a milestone in sustainable coffee production. 

  • The initial export of deforestation-free coffee to Italy, specifically to Illy Caffè, weighed 18,975 kilograms, showcasing Costa Rica's commitment to sustainable export practices.