Costa Rica’s Café Chorreado

by Gayle Sommers

Coffee is an interesting thing here in Costa Rica. Like apples in WA State, the best coffee is exported, but there’s still a lot available, from many locations around the area…I’ve experimented with a number of different brands, probably trying out at least 15 different kinds, but still barely scratching the surface. Our local coffee processor, Café Altura, probably has close to that number of brands itself. Unlike my husband, Paul, who only drinks decaffeinated coffee (and prefers the extremely expensive coffee from Starbucks, thank you very much), I like my coffee leaded, and have a cup or two in the morning.

Early on, I bought one of those drip coffeemakers, the kind where the coffee goes into a disposable paper filter and the water into a well, and then the water, after it gets hot, begins dripping through the coffee grounds and into the glass carafe below. It makes perfectly fine coffee and has been great when we have had neighbors over for coffee, though with a “5 cup” capacity, if there are more than three people or (horrors!) if anyone actually wants a second cup, it has to be refilled (and refilled again), while we wait for the coffee to brew.


Here in coffee country, I wanted something better. Costa Rica has a contraption that is unique to CR, a chorreador which consists of a stand with a metal wire and a loop on top, into which a fabric sock fits (not to be confused with a chorreada, which is something else entirely!) The fabric sock also has a wire built in so only the fabric sock goes through the chorreador’s ring and hangs down. The coffee grounds go into the sock, the cup (already filled with sugar and hot milk to taste) is placed below, and the hot water is slowly poured through the grounds and coffee trickles out below…

Chorreadas go great with coffee!

Once the coffee is ready, the sock is rinsed out — never allow soap to touch it! — and allowed to air dry. I like coffee made from my chorreador and think it’s better than from the drip coffeemaker. It seems a bit richer and smoother.

Note: a chorreada is a pancake made from pureed fresh corn and maybe a little milk…and fried in a skillet until golden. Not a bit like a chorreador!

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