Costa Rica Gourmet Coffee Heritage

William Le Lacheur, an Englishman was born on 15 October 1802 and was very early baptized with the name Guillaume Le Lacheur (using the French version of the forename) in the parish church of the Forest, Guernsey on 31 October by his parents Jean Le Lacheur and Marie Suzanne (née Allez). He was named after his grandfather, Guillaume Allez, who was also one of his godparents. Amazing how well the English do.

William is widely credited in Costa Rica as having transformed the economy of this Central American country by establishing a direct regular trade route for Costa Rican coffee growers to the European market, thereby helping to establish the Costa Rican coffee trade and development of gourmet coffee in Costa Rica. He set up the market and the trade routes that allowed the coffee business to bloom and flourish. William grew up rather quietly in England but did grow a love for ships and shipping. He married Rachel in 1828 in a church wedding.No coffee was served and in time they had five children: his children Amelia, John, Louisa, Emma, and Rachel.

He started his company by buying a ship. Now he had to find something to ship. The year was 1829.After sailing for 3 years and building a good shipping route and building up some capital to expand his shipping business he decided to expand his business. He bought a bigger ship the Minerva to carry more coffee. By 1836, he had formed a company Le Lacheur & Co, which owned two ships: Minerva & Dart. He entered the fruit trade which required faster ships; faster routes and more money. Over the following years, he continued to add to his fleet, and seek out new markets. In 1841, Le Lacheur took delivery of the baroque Monarch. The Monarch was a much larger vessel capable of journeys furthers a field. With longer journeys he was able to expand his trade and his routes. During a stop at the port of Mazatlan, on the Pacific coast of Mexico, he learnt that the Costa Rican gourmet coffee growers were having in finding a market for their produce. He decided to investigate.

Since their independence in 1839, Costa Rica found no regular trade routes for their fruit or coffee in the European markets. This was compounded by transportation problems within the country. The farms were too far from the coast or too close to the Pacific Coast {remember no Panama Canal at this time). The coffee-growing areas were located in the central part of the country, and it was impossible, because of the mountains and the rainy forest, to send the coffee to the Caribbean Sea and therefore to the Atlantic. It was a lot easier to ship the coffee to a Pacific port, Puntarenas, and to sail around Cape Horn to the Atlantic Ocean and onward to Europe. Further hampering them was Costa Rica had no internal railroad system.