Lowell Gudmundson's masterful work on Costa Rica during the latter stages of its coffee-based export growth explores the societal changes brought by the expansion of agricultural cooperatives from the mid- to the late twentieth century, alongside the relative decline and subsequent partial recovery of large-scale private coffee processing plants (beneficios) and the rise of smaller-scale ones (micro-beneficios) in a context of major socioeconomic and political reforms. His detailed study of coffee production and processing, livelihoods, and life stories in two key and contrasting regions, Heredia and Tarrazú, provides valuable insights into and suggestive interpretations of the recent social history of coffee and coffee farms both within and without the Central Valley, where commercial coffee growing began in Costa Rica in the early nineteenth century. These explorations and explanations are interwoven with the broader economic, social, and political history...

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