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The History of Tarrazu County, costa rica gourmet coffee and its People before 1950     

Now, let's travel through time with this interesting timeline composed by us based on Tarrazu County City Hall old documents:

400 AD: First Indian Settlements. Small villages were built along the Tarrazú and Pirris rivers.

1563: The Conquistador Juan Vasquez de Coronado passes through the Tarrazú Valley heading toward Quepos.

1818: First White settlers, Don José Miguel Cascante among them, arrived.

1826: First land concession granted to Mr. José Miguel Cascante Rojas.

1850: First coffee trees were planted in the valley.

1867: Father Raimundo Mora gives the small village the name of San Marcos.

1868: The Tarrazú county (Cantón ) is created.

1869: Mr. Jesús Cascante donates land to build the Church and plaza at San Marcos.

1870: Mr. Juan Umaña settles in South San Marcos. He starts building the first wooden Roman Catholic church in the county.

1892: Villagers start building the telegraph.

1893: Mr. Paulino Ardón builds a saw mill in the west bank of Pirris river.

1893: Villagers start building the Pirris River Bridge.

1894: The first Music School in Tarrazú was founded.

1895: Mr. Tobias Umaña Jimenez buys coffee lands for the first time.

1897: The first coffee processing mill is founded by Mr. Pedro Pérez in Belmira ( what is now El Llano de la Piedra, ) one mile away from San Marcos.

1897: Don Juan Naranjo departs from San Jose to the San Marcos de Tarrazú Valley to settle the San Guillermo Hills. His son Evelio later on starts planting coffee trees in his Estate.

1898: Because the world coffee market crashed, the local government suggests the farmers to combine coffee production with soy beans.

Set. 1st 1900: The General Gutiérrez, El Salvador ex-president, visits San Marcos.

Jan 15, 1901. The County secretary is authorized to pick coffee beans from the municipality farm.

June 16, 1901. The wooden bridge in Santa Maria is roofed to protect it from rain.

July 21, 1901. the plaza in San Marcos is leveled and the soil is used to built the roads in downtown.

1902:  Oven to burn bricks to build the local church is located in the San Marcos plaza.

Aug 1st, 1902. Don Ramón Blanco ask the Municipality for permit in using water to power his coffee mill or beneficio located in San Pablo, 2 miles from San Marcos. In the years to come, he and his trademark R.B. Tarrazú became famous in Europe.  

Feb 3, 1903. The Tarrazú Municipality, for the first time, charge taxes on coffee mills, as follows:

Coffee mills 1st category: 6 pesos/year.

Coffee mills 2nd category: 4 pesos/year.

March 16, 1903. First census ever. 


San Marcos: 485 people

Santa Maria: 604 people

Jan 15, 1904: The Tarrazú Municipality makes the following classification:

Coffee Mills 1st category:  The one owned by Mr. Ramón Blanco.

Coffee Mills 2nd category: The ones owned by Mr. Macario Arias ( Located in what is now Barrio La Maravilla, San Marcos ) and Mr. Pedro Rivera.

Aug 25, 1904: The municipality agrees to sells land in Quepos (known as Paquita ) to an American fruit Company.

Jan 29, 1908. Conflict between Mr. Ramón Blanco and the town of San Pablo for water use in the coffee mill.

July 25. 1908. The municipality estimates the county coffee production, including San Pablo and Santa Maria, could not exceed 20 thousand colones worth of coffee a year. (Salary for the county treasurer was 25 colones /month.)

1909. The municipality ask for an audit on how the local beneficios buy the coffee to farmers.

Mr. Tobias Umaña Jimenez  sells to the Municipality several blocks in what is now east San Marcos.

March 1st 1910, Mr. Domingo Rojas is asked to pay patent for his new coffee mill located in Santa Maria.

1910: Mr. Victor Mora settles in the west bank of the Pirris River.

April 1910. Earthquake destroys local buildings.

August, 1910.  Mr. Tobias Umaña Jimenez, representing the Tarrazú County, sells 3494 hectares of land located in the south. He is given a special thanks for his great job in the land auction.  The money  helped built the local City Hall, roads, and drinking water systems.

May, 1911, new taxes for coffee mills:

Coffe mills 1st category: 15 pesos/year.

Coffee mills 2nd category: 10 pesos/year.

Coffe mills 3rd category: 5 pesos/year.

July 1st, 1911. The Tarrazú municipality makes the following classification:

Coffee Mills 1st category:  The one owned by Mr. Ramón Blanco and the one owned by Mr. Paulino Ardón.

Coffee Mills 3rd category: The ones owned by Mr. Macario Arias ( Located in what is now Barrio La Maravilla, San Marcos ) and Mr. Domingo Rojas in Santa Maria.

Nov. 15 1911. The municipality agrees to use Mr. Ardon´s electric dynamo to power public lamps in the village.

Set 1st, 1914. Because of the economic crisis due to the European war, the National Government denies further expenditures in Tarrazú.

1915: Fund raising to start building the first road connecting Paquita and Cotos ( Now Quepos ) to the Village of San Marcos.

Feb 24th, 1916.

New taxes to coffee mills as follows:

1st Category: 50 colones a year. 2nd Category: 25 colones a year. 3rd Category: 15 colones a year.

April 15, 1916: Municipality pays bills to show, for the first movie ever in the village of San Marcos.

May 24, 1916: Appraisal of coffee mills in town for tax purposes:

Abraham Madriz´s coffee mill: 1st Category.

Domingo Rojas´s: 3rd category.

Ramón Blanco´s: 2nd Category.

Taxes for coffee mills:

Coffee Mills: 1st category: 50 colones /year. Coffee Mills 2nd category: 25 colones/year. Coffee Mills 3rd category: 15 colones/ year.

July 2nd, 1916: The road to the Paquita and Naranjo Beaches( Quepos ) are given the status of county roads.

Mr. Gabriel Fallas and Octavio Rojas are contracted to bring electric power to Santa Maria.

Nov 24, 1916. Rain Storms destroys bridges and roads throughout the county.

March 4, 1917: Mr. Abraham Madriz request tax reduction  and lower classification of for his coffee mill.

June 17, 1917. Fund raising to help victims of the El Salvador Earthquake.

July 27, 1917. Federico Tinoco raises to power in a coup.

Nov 7, 1917. Don Jose Rodriguez is asked to pay municipal taxes for his beneficio in San Pablo.

Dec 1, 1920. New tax policy for coffee mills as follow:

Coffee Mills with own coffee plantation: 50 colones/year

Feb 15,  1921.  Estimated income. Municipal budget,

          Coffee mills, San Marcos:     100.00 colones /year

          Coffee mills, San Pablo:         200.00 colones/year 

   Municipal Taxes/year:

       Coffee mills own plantation:  50 colones/year.

       Coffee mills:  Middle men:   100 colones/year.

        Recibidores (coffee cherries collecting facilities ) 20 colones/year.

Oct 1st, 1921, Tarrazú Municipality ask the National Government to eliminate 50 cents in taxes for every ox cart arriving to the Central Market in San Jose.

5 Feb, 1922.

Population in Tarrazú:

       San Marcos: 2184 people

       Santa Maria: 2022 people

       San Pablo:  1399 people

Aug 28, 1922.   Municipality signs contract with Mr. Carlos Chacón to provide electricity for the first time, to all villagers in San Marcos.

Oct 2, 1927. Tarrazu Municipality asks Mr. Francisco Quijano, who works for Mr. Alberto Chavarria, owner of a coffee mill in San Marcos, to build small bridges over the creek where he takes water to power his mill. 

June, 1928,  Mr. Tobias Umaña Jimenez, county president, ask the National Government for help in building good access roads  to the county given the good name of the tarrazu coffee abroad and increasing demand and coffee production.

May 12, 1929, Don Matias Parra donates the Tarrazu government a small boat to provide transportation to Naranjo.

Oct. 13, 1929. Local Industry Census:

Stores, convenience stores, diners, soft drink factory, vegetable stores, billiards, dominos, powder factory, saw mills, bakeries, coffee mills.

June 1930, Mr. Alberto Chavarría is asked to provide electricity to the village.

Jan 11, 1931. Coffee mills taxes per year: 100 colones.

                   Coffee ¨recibidores¨ whose mills is located outside Tarrazu: 75 per year. 

Feb 22, 1931. Mr. Victor Saenz Guerrero is asked to pay taxes on coffee mills.

April 12, 1931. Town collects money to help victims of the Managua Earthquake.

May 14, 1931.  The local government grants Mr. Tobias Umaña Jimenez permit to take water from the Pirris river to power his coffee mill. Dynamo had 20 horse- power.

April 24, 1932, Mr. Alberto Chavarria, who owns a coffee mill in San Marcos, complains about contamination by local people of small creek running through the village.

Nov. 26, 1932.  Don Tobias Umaña Jimenez takes water from a nearby creek to power his coffee mill.

June 4, 1933. Mr. Ricardo Chanto, who represents a local soccer team, ask the local government to level the local soccer field.

Feb 5, 1933.  Tarrazu Municipality estimates total county coffee production is 12 thousand, 100/lbs  bags or ¨quintales¨ a year.

April 23, 1933. Antonio Arias ask municipality to reduce Theater taxes.

June 11, 1933.  Mr. Tobias Umaña Jimenez and the municipality signs contract to provide electricity to San Marcos.

May, 1933. Mr. Tobias Umaña Jimenez is given a National award for his efforts in bringing stability to the National Pacific railway company and for his Tarrazu coffee exports.

July 16, 1933. Mr. Eduardo Bonilla, who owns the company Cafetalera Tarrazu S.
A. starts building a water reservoir to power his coffee mill located in San Pablo.

Oct 22, 1933. Don Tobias Umaña asks for permit to allow a small plane to land on a street in San Marcos.

Dec. 17 1933. Don Alberto Chavarria is asked to donate land to the village to build an airport in El Rodeo Tarrazu.

Jan 7, 1934, Coffee mills are asked to write down the tarrazu district name where the coffee is harvested in order to distribute taxes accordingly.

May 10, 1934.  Mr. Eduardo Bonilla tells local government to tax Mr. Tobias Umaña Jimenez since he sold to Mr. Umaña his coffee mill in San Pablo.

July 12, 1934. Mr. Tobias Umaña gives part of the public lightning  revenue to build local Hospital.

Aug. 23, 1934.  Local government charges 7 cents per fanega taken away to coffee mills located outside Tarrazu county.

Oct. 25, 1934. Local people riot over a 2 dollar per fanega tax while other coffee regions in Costa Rica are charged only 1 dollar per fanega.  Price per Tarrazu coffee was 80 colones per fanega while coffee in the Central valley was worth 40 colones.

Productivity per ¨manzana¨ (3/4 hectare ) was 5 to 8 fanegas, while productivity in the central valley was 20 to 30 fanegas per manzana.

Feb 28,  1935.  Taxes for Tarrazu Coffee mills: 7 centimos per fanega.

May 19,  1935. Airfield is officially open. This airfield is 300 meters long.

Rate of exchange: 6 colones per dollar.

June 27,  1935. Local government gives report saying almost all coffee mills are located in the district of San Marcos.

Oct 12, 1935. New Local school open.

May 25,  1936, Tarrazu county government complains again to congress saying coffee entrepreneurs in  San Cristobal de Desamparados, Santa Elena de Cartago, La Legua de Aserri and Frailes exports their coffee under the Tarrazu label and ask congress to protect the name for Tarrazu coffee mills only.

Nov. 19, 1936,  Census Report: 7515 people living in the Tarrazu county.

Number of coffee mills in the area: Six: 3 located in San Marcos and 3 in San Pablo.

Total coffee production in Tarrazu during 1935-1936 harvest season: 7884 fanegas ( 100 lbs. bags. )

Dec 1st, 1936: Local government agrees to charge a special tax to bread coming from other counties.

May 15, 1937.  Tarrazu villagers protest against new tax for highland coffees harvested in Tarrazú.

June 1, 1937.  Tarrazu municipality asks National Government to request coffee mills located outside Tarrazu county to give report on what quantities of coffee they have processed in their mills.

June 15, 1937. National Treasurer reports that neither Mr. Chavarria and  Bonilla Brothers in Candelaria, German Dominguez en La Legua de Aserri and others in San Cristobal, whose coffee mills are outside Tarrazu, have given any report regarding coffee coming from the highlands.  The Tarrazu Municipality ask the National government to pressure the above individuals to give such report.

Aug 3rd, 1937. County leaders report that new taxes are expected to damage local farmers since new tax policy favors low-grown coffee farmers in Turrialba.  They say while in Turrialba a coffee farmer harvests 30 fanegas per 3/4 of hectare a year and is paid 33.7 colones each, in Tarrazu a farmer harvests just 8 fanegas and is paid 53.70 colones each.

March 15, 1938.  Mr. German Dominguez, who owns  coffee mills in San Cristobal de Desamparados, Santa Helena and La Legua de Aserri, is asked to pay taxes for coffee taken from the Tarrazú Highlands.

June 5th, 1938. The Tarrazú Municipality requested its lawyer to start registration of the Tarrazu trademark since Central Valley exporters are taking advantage of the good name of the Tarrazu appellation abroad.  They fear low-grown coffee are being sold under the label ¨Cafe de Tarrazu¨ and thus damaging the Tarrazu farmers.

 Aug 7th 1938, the village of San Marcos is given the title of ¨City¨. 

Jan 1st, 1939.  Budget for 1939.  Income expected from coffee mill taxes: 540.25 colones.  Tax per fanega: 7 cents.

Feb. 15 1943.  Because of the weather and bad roads, most Tarrazu coffee farmers use horses to carry coffee beans from their farms to San Marcos. Town economy is hard hit due to  World War II.

Municipality 1944 budget.

       Estimated local taxes to coffee mills....... 483.70 colones. 

Jan 7th, 1944. Tarrazu Municipality raise awareness regarding Mr. Martin Chavarria´s  efforts to register his coffee harvested in Los Frailes, a Desamparados district, as Tarrazu. They ask their lawyer to stop Mr. Chavarria´s effort and start registration of the Tarrazu trademark on behalf of the Tarrazu Municipality and the coffee mills located in Tarrazu county. In this way, Tarrazu coffee quality would be  protected.


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Video Clip from CNBC about Don Evelio Coffee Farm Click here to see CNBC Coffee Story -by Karin Isdahl - about DON EVELIO COFFEE FARM, filmed in mid May 2006.

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Media Highlights

"Jorge Luis Umana, the owner of coffee grower Beneficio Don Evelio,...has set up a company site, So far he's the only grower to do so.." ADAM PIORE, LAUREN WOLLKOFF Newsweek Magazine Journalists, January 29, 2001 issue.

"Tarrazu coffee growers, who produce some of the world's finest, high-elevation promote their high-quality crop on the Internet at" CHRISTINE PRATT, The Tico Times,Aug 18th, 2000

Interview to one of our Costa Rica coffee farmers at Specialty Coffee Retailer Magazine

Coffee University: what you need to know about coffee - Wen Lee takes you to San Marcos de Tarrazu, Click here to see the videos:
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