If you are a coffee lover and fancy local handicrafts, you will like shopping in Costa Rica. The souvenir shops are chock-a-block with jewellery, artefacts, clothing and other paraphernalia. I like picking artisanal items since it’s my way of supporting local artists. Here is a list of things to shop for in Costa Rica:
Costa Rica is famous for its coffee. Because of the excellent climate and volcanic soil, the coffee is of excellent quality with an acidic flavour. The coffee from the Tarrazu region in the interiors of Costa Rica is most sought after. Starbucks, the coffee chain shop, owns a coffee plantation in Costa Rica called Hacienda Alsacia. You can even visit this coffee plantation near San Jose.
Chorreador de Café or Traditional Coffee Maker
The Costa Ricans make their coffees in the traditional way even to this day. Just as South Indians swear by their ‘kaapi’ made in a traditional drip or dabba coffee filter, the Costa Ricans like their coffee made in a Chorreador. The ground coffee is first placed in a ‘sock’ or cloth filter that is mounted on a wooden stand. Then, hot water is poured into the sock, which leaches through the sock and is collected in a cup. The wooden stands are usually painted with animal or bird motifs. We were gifted a wooden Chorreador with a slot painted on it and two metal cups with a hummingbird and toucan painted on them.
If you are looking for handmade boho jewellery, be it earrings, necklaces or bracelets, then there is ample variety to pick and choose from. Jewellery made using semi-precious stones, lava beads, and recycled wood is trendy. I was thrilled to find even macrame jewellery since I myself am a macrame artist. We picked lava stone bracelets for the children and a chakra healing bracelet in a combination of seven rainbow colour stones and lava stones for myself.
Artisanal Wood Art
The local artisans make an array of artefacts and knickknacks using wood. Masks, coasters, boxes, photo frames, napkin holders, bowls, wall hangings … The list is endless. The miniature wooden ox carts are very popular. A lot of these items are brightly painted with animal and bird motifs. The artists seem to take a lot of inspiration from nature and local surroundings which is reflected in their art.
Artisanal Ceramic Art
The local Chorrotega artisans in Guatil still use the same techniques and tools since the Pre-Columbian era to make pottery. You can spot this pottery in its signature earth colours of brown, tan, back and red in souvenir shops. In addition, you will also find contemporary ceramics painted in bright colours with animal and bird motifs.
One of the most popular souvenirs with most travellers are magnets. We never miss picking a magnet from whichever country we visit. They make for great gifting options too. You will find scores of magnets with nature and wildlife a frequent theme. We picked magnets with the Blue Jeans Frog since we had spotted it on our rainforest trek.
Souvenir plates which depict the Costa Rican wildlife, local culture, or the map are good options to pick. If you want to hang them on the walls, make sure they have a loop on the rear, and if you’re going to place them on a table, you will need a stand. During the course of our travel across the globe we have collected several of these from the countries we have visited .
For some reason, printed towels in Costa Rica are sought after. You will find towels with the local currency, the birds like toucans and animals like white-faced monkeys and slots and Pura Vida (the equivalent of the Indian Namaste) printed on them. We received a gift of a striped towel which came in handy when we went to the beach or pool.
So, here is our list of things to shop in Costa Rica. What did you shop for in Costa Rica? Do let us know.