ORGULLO LATINOReading time: 3 minutes
What is café chorreado? Understanding Costa Rica's pour-over coffee
Behind Costa Rica’s rich coffee culture is a brewing method that unlocks all the incredible flavors of coffee without the need for expensive gadgets.
Few things are more comforting than a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
Whether first thing in the morning to help wake you up and energize your body and mind; in the afternoon when you take a moment to rest in the midst of the chaos of everyday life; or at the end of the day to unwind, coffee is the lifeblood for so many people.
For Ticos, having a coffee is a ritual, a special moment, and, overall, an experience to be shared. It gives us the opportunity to discuss important things and forms part of what it means to be born and live in Costa Rica.
Like many countries, we also have our own special ways of brewing coffee that not only unlock its full spectrum of flavors, but also offer an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the process with friends and family.
Among the most famous is café chorreado. Considered the original pour-over, it takes its name from the traditional wooden brewing device (known as a chorreador) that holds the cloth bolsitas which are used as filters.
In the past, bolsitas were exclusively handsewn, but today you can find them everywhere, from coffee shops to market stalls. That said, many Ticos still prefer to get their bolsitas from specialized craftspeople, maintaining that the best-quality brew can only be achieved through handmade work.
The beauty of café chorreado lies in how accessible it is. Forget expensive espresso machines: all you need is a chorreador, a bolsita, a kettle of hot water, and a few grams of delicious Costa Rican coffee.
How to prepare café chorreado
- First you must grind your roasted coffee beans. (Don’t worry if you don’t have a grinder, you can always use pre-ground!). A medium grind size works well for café chorreado.
- Put the ground coffee inside the bolsita suspended on the chorreador. Ten grams is enough for one cup.
- While water is boiling in a pot or kettle, place your cup under the bolsita, making sure that it won’t miss a single drop.
- Once the water boils, pour it slowly onto the ground coffee in circular motions to ensure every part is covered. You only need around 6oz per cup.
- Wait until the last drip. Then breathe in the intense aroma, and savor the delicious flavors of Costa Rican coffee that can only be obtained with this method.
Sarchí: My favorite place to enjoy café chorreado
When I was young, I used to visit my abuela in the mountains of Sarchí, a small town located in the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica.
Sarchí is a town of sculptors and artisans, and the cradle of the traditional oxcarts: ancient means of transport that consisted of a wooden carriage pulled by two oxen.
These oxcarts were often used to transport entire families, bags of coffee, and other goods across long distances.
In order to embellish these oxcarts, the artisans of Sarchí have been in charge of decorating them with the most colorful flowers, birds, and geometric figures. They did it at such an intricate level that this town has been recognized throughout the world as the cradle of decorated carts.
I remember once asking my abuela why the tables to drip coffee were also decorated.
“My girl,” she replied, “those were times when television and 21st-century technology did not exist. So we had to give light and life to our day to day in some way. The artisans of our time, after decorating the carts, began to decorate the door frames and the chairs in the corridors, and of course, also the tables for dripping coffee.”
Today, there are few places in Costa Rica more magical for enjoying a café chorreado than Sarchí.
Being surrounded by such beautiful, ornately decorated works while sipping on a traditional Costa Rican pour-over coffee makes me feel as though I have been transported back in time.
There are lots of souvenir stores around the town where you can pick up everything you need to make your own café chorreado at home too.
Café chorreado is a true Costa Rican tradition. It is the original pour-over and can be done anywhere, from the beach to the mountains. Why not grab some coffee, a chorreador, and a bolsita, and brew your own delicious café chorreado at home?