(The article was written as part of a collaboration with visit.org)
Costa Rica is renowned for its coffee among the best in the world. This small country relies on quality to resist in front of the big world producers like Brazil. For example, it is not allowed to grow coffee of lower quality such as robusta coffee. In Costa Rica you will only find arabica coffee plantations.
But small-scale coffee producers have hard time and are far to get the same profits than the large groups buying their production.
Therefore, to survive financially, many plantations open their doors to visitors. It is possible to see the coffee plantations, the beans preparation, coffee making and local know-how. But not all visits are well done. Visit.org gave us the opportunity to follow a guided tour in a coffee cooperative in exchange of a report about it. It was a real pleasure to collaborate with them for several reasons:
- Visit.org promotes authentic travel experiences (what we are looking for during our trip) and especially ones that benefit to local communities.
- The tour was interesting and interactive. We could discover many things about coffee and sugarcane in a well preserved environment.
- The tour was organized by Coopesarapiqui, a non-profit organization grouping 137 small coffee producers. We could meet a realy united group helping each other.
But is coffee, and especially caffeine, bad for health or not?
Coffee is a real institution here. In the Borucca community some families did not hesitate to give coffee to children from 6 months … I must say, I was a bit shocked…
To answer about the safety of cafein, in May 2017, a particularly well done report was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry. It is available here.
In short summary of this work, it depends if you are a heathy adult or if you bellong to vulnerable populations. If you are a healthy adult caffeine is relatively safe. If you remain reasonable of course. You can drink up to 4 cups of coffee per day (representing a total of 400 mg of caffeine) without fear of negative effects.
Actually coffee could even be beneficial to you. More particularly some studies suggest that
– slow age-related cognitive decline,
– reduce risk of some neurological disorders
– promote longevity.
But caffeine is contraindicated and presents risks in many other cases. For example, for pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with mental illnesses, people taking certain medications (no less than 85 drugs are known to interact with caffeine) or if you present heart problems.
(Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive drug in the world. Coffee is far from being the only product to contain caffeine. For example tea, chocolate, some sodas and energy drinks contain significant quantities of caffeine)