>> Costa Rica's coffee farmers are caught between a crop epidemic, global warming, and new coffee drinkers desperately seeking more caffeine. For years they have focused on solely growing premium Arabica coffee, but now Costa Rica might be forced to grow the lower end Robusta beans to keep up with demand.
Roder's correspondent, Luke Cohen.>> At the moment production of Robusta in Costa Rica is illegal. What's going on now is the country's coffee institute called ECAFE, which regulates the country's coffee industry, is considering lifting that ban on Robusta production, and part of some of the reasons for this include the fact that the country's Arabica harvest has been declining in recent years, in large part due to a leaf rust epidemic called Roya.
And so they need some way to make up the gap.>> Costa Rica had banned robusta production back in the 80s to maintain its closely guarded reputation for high-quality coffee. Arabica, which fetches higher prices on the international market, has a sweeter taste and a wider variety of flavors.
Whereas Robusta has more caffeine and is mostly used in lower end products like instant coffee. But as more middle class consumers in emerging markets drink coffee, farmers are having a hard time keeping up with demand. Enter Robusta.>> Robusta is much more resistant to roya than Arabica is.
Another factor is climate change. With temperatures warming the Arabica, which thrives at cooler temperatures, the area in which it can be grown is shrinking. So that leaves many farmers who may be at lower altitude areas that are now too hot to grow Arabica, that makes Robusta an attractive alternative for them.
>> Cohen says that if Costa Rica gives the green light to Robusta production, that coffee would likely be sold to locals, while the Arabica would be used for export.