Costa Rica Issues NFTs to Preserve Coffee Heritage

When you think of Costa Rica, likely many images come to mind: Beautiful beaches and nature teeming with wildlife, waves of the Pacific where ticos test their surfing skills, free college education and a world-renowned healthcare system. And then there is the coffee.

The small central American country provides around 1% of the world’s total coffee production, with 10% of Costa Ricans involved in the cultivation of this export.

To preserve this heritage, two organizations — the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Centre (CATIE) and Specialty Coffee Association of Costa RICA (SCACR) have teamed up with Web3 company Biocenft to release a special NFT collection that combines high-quality art and a distinct coffee flavor.

The goal? To raise enough money for CATIE’s latest project: The relocation of different coffee species to a new location with better drainage, which will help preserve the legacy of coffee production in the country.

According to a press release, the NFTs will feature 12 of CATIE’s distinctive coffee varieties: Geisha, Wush-Wush, Java, Mibirizi, Sudan, Rume, ET-47, SL-28, SL-34, Mileneo, Centroamericano, Esperanza, and Casiopea.

They come in Gold, Silver, and Standard editions, with each category having edition sizes ranging from 40 to 200. The art involves depictions of each variety’s bean, sometimes in gold, sometimes in brown.

Prices range from $20 to $12,000 per NFT. While the tokens have been minted under the ERC-1155 standard, the Biocenft marketplace indicates that the NFTs are housed on the Polygon sidechain, as prices are in MATIC.

Biocenft CEO Walter Aguilar says this collection is a “unique opportunity for coffee and NFT enthusiasts” to help two important organizations that are trying to ensure the future of Costa Rican coffee. Biocenft, as a Web3 company, focuses on tokens that contribute to biodiversity. Its marketplace allows users to connect MetaMask, Coinbase Wallet, and Wallet Connect for purchases.

Fundraising Another Use Case for NFTs

Noelia Villalobos, SCACR Executive Director, said the Costa Rican coffee NFT collection is a great way to raise awareness regarding “the importance of coffee biodiversity” and to support the research and conversation efforts of both CATIE and SCACR. In her view, SCACR is grateful to do this through NFTs.

While CATIE, SCACR, and Biocenft are billing these NFTs as investments (a general no-go these days with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission prowling about), one might see them as simple fundraising, a unique way of using non-fungible token technology to bring more revenue in for big projects.

According to CATIE’s press release, the funds could be used in the following ways:

  • Attract new sources of money for research and conservation efforts
  • Promote coffee specific to Costa Rica to a wider audience
  • Create an exciting way for coffee enthusiasts to connect with each other

But NFTs can do much more for organizations than simple fundraising. As we wrote in our guide “How NFTs Are Being Used for Social Impact,” many non-profits are turning to non-fungible tokens for other benefits: Creation of communities, changing donor relationships, raising awareness. Fundraising is just one of the reasons non-profits issue NFT collections.

While the Costa Rican NFT coffee collection seems attached to a six-year IRL project, wherein CATIE will relocate 168 species of coffee and its entire International Coffee Collection to another farm, other benefits may spring up: a meshing between coffee enthusiasts and degens, a community built around shared love of that drink.

And that would be refreshing in this crypto winter.

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