Perfumed aroma, balanced and tangy with flavors of caramel, panela, apple, praline pecan, thyme and sweet tobacco." The Central Valley is made up of the San Jose, Heredia and Alajuela provinces. Its productive structure is influenced by the agro-export model that greatly emphasizes the importance of the cultivation and industrialization of coffee. This is the most populated region that includes the capital city of San Jose. The coffee plantations were first started in this region and later taken to the other 7 productive regions of the country. The Irazu, Barva, and Poas volcanoes, instrumental in the nurturing of the soil necessary for the cultivation of the coffee bean, are familiar landmarks in the Central Valley. Coffee was first cultivated in this region, during the last decade of the 18th century. The first quintal (100 lbs) of exported coffee was recorded in 1820, destined for Panama. Along with the exportation of coffee to Europe came the train, mail system, printing houses, the first university and the construction of the National Theater in Costa Rica, among other developments. The coffee-growing region extends from between 800 to 1,600 meters above sea level (2,625 feet-5,250 feet); however, more than 80% of the coffee farms are located between 1,000 and 1,400 meters (3,281 feet Â- 4,593 feet). The altitude of the Central Valley affects the size and hardness of the coffee bean and can influence certain components, in particular the acidity; these elements are very important to the characteristics of Arabica coffee, which offers an aromatic, smooth and pleasant flavored beverage. Tropical soils have been enriched by volcanic ash and are slightly acidic; they are also rich in organic material which favors moisture retention, a well distributed root system, and facilitates oxygenation.
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