NAMA Support Project: Low-Carbon Coffee Costa Rica

Project description

Title: Climate-friendly Coffee from Costa Rica
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU); British Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
Country: Costa Rica
Lead executing agency: Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía (MINAE)
Overall term: 2015 to 2019



Costa Rica is working hard to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The country aims to do its share in limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. Costa Rica has comprehensive strategies and action plans in place, including Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), to achieve these ambitious climate targets.
The top priority is reducing emissions from coffee production. Intensive use of nitrogen-based fertilisers and a processing method that is water and energy-intensive mean that coffee cultivation is the second-largest source of emissions in the agricultural sector. Costa Rica is one of the first countries in the world to promote climate-friendly coffee cultivation.

Coffee production in Costa Rica has a long tradition and is well organised. However, it involves high costs and competes with other coffee-producing countries. The economic sustainability of Costa Rican coffee production will depend on a high-quality product, efficient resource use, more cost-effective production, product diversity, and access to new markets.


6,000 Costa Rican coffee farmers and employees at 50 coffee mills have the knowledge and technical skills required to use climate-friendly cultivation and processing methods. Sustainability certificates identify Costa Rican coffee as a climate-friendly alternative – the reduction in emissions boosts demand for this product.



The project supports the climate-friendly cultivation and processing of coffee by means of technical advice and technology transfer. For coffee mills, it offers access to attractive financing options that can be used to purchase eco-friendly machinery, such as energy-efficient dryers or solar panels for energy generation. In addition, it supports the participating mills in their efforts to access new markets for the sale of climate-friendly coffee.

The project is being financed on behalf of the NAMA Facility, a fund established by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It aims to support particularly ambitious NAMAs worldwide.

The project supports the implementation of NAMA Café is being carried out in cooperation with the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the Costa Rica Coffee Institute (ICAFE) and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI). Experiences and lessons learned will be made available to other agricultural production areas and other sectors and countries.



Over 4,000 coffee farmers have been trained in the use of sustainable agricultural practices, such as the optimal application of fertilisers and the irrigation of coffee plants. 3,500 of them are already using these methods in their plantations. In addition, 300 agricultural advisors from ICAFE and the Ministry of Agriculture participated in these trainings, to be able to advise farmers on the use of sustainable practices. This will also guarantee the dissemination of these practices even after the project is concluded.

A total of 56 coffee mills are participating in the NSP Café and have calculated their CO2 footprint and water consumption during processing. They are currently identifying and implementing mitigation measures. Two participating mills have been certified as carbon-neutral.

More than 20 mills took part in trainings aimed at improving their sales and marketing skills, to successfully position their climate-friendly coffee abroad. Eight mills that travelled to Germany and the United States succeeded in finding buyers for their coffee, which include Kaffeerösterei Münchhausen from Bremen, the Speicherstadt Kaffeerösterei from Hamburg and FULCRUM Coffee Roasters from Seattle.

In July 2018, the NSP Café, in cooperation with CABEI, launched a USD 10 million credit line that offers attractive interest rates to coffee mills in the entire country and supports them with their investments in low-emission, sustainable technologies and practices.

Another subsidy exclusively for mills involved in the NSP Café provides financial assistance with the implementation of support-worthy low-emission and innovative technologies. A third financing mechanism that is being implemented together with the FUNBAM foundation targets the planting of shade trees on coffee plantations: plantation owners receive a payment of USD 2.14 for every tree planted. Shade trees not only capture CO2 from the atmosphere, but also regulate humidity, provide protection against heavy rainfall and help avoid soil erosion within the plantations.

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