The Río Pirrís (also known as Río Parrita) establishes much of the northern boundary of the three-pronged canton, which reaches south across the Coastal Mountain Range to its border with the canton of Aguirre in Puntarenas Province.
The canton was established by a legislative decree of August 7, 1868. It was part of the Desamparados canton by that time.
Tarrazu is located about 70 kilometers south of the Capital San Jose, in a pristine valley surrounded by mountains that are part of the Talamanca Sierra in southern Costa Rica. Downtown San Marcos is 1350 meters above sea level but is surrounded by peaks as high as 3000 meters above sea level.
Highland coffee is the main source of income of local people. However, tourism and avocado production are of increased importance. During the months of December, January and February, population increases three-fold due to harvest time. San Marcos, the biggest town in the region, has become the center of economic activity. More recently the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity has invested millions of dollars in the Pirris Hydro Dam, scheduled to start generating energy by March 2011. The Hydro Dam is now the highest structure of its kind in Central America and will be key to the economic development of the region, not only in the highlands but the coastal regions of Quepos and Parrita.
Tarrazu, particularly the San Lorenzo area, is felt to produce the most desirable coffee in Costa Rica. Finca Palmilera coffee is grown here. In November 2012, it was the most expensive coffee sold in Starbucks coffee shops in the United States.
- Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN), 2001.
- Estimates of Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos (INEC), May 2003.
- "División Territorial Administrativa de Costa Rica" (PDF) (in Spanish). Instituto de Fomento y Asesoria Municipal (IFAM). 5 May 2009.
- Elizabeth Barham, Bertil Sylvander (24 Jun 2011). Labels of Origin for Food: Local Development, Global Recognition. CABI. p. 146. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- Costa Rica Finca Palmilera Roy Street Coffee and Tea, 2012-11-16.
- Starbucks' new super-expensive coffee: Geisha variety that sells for $7-a-cup Daily Mail, 2012-11-27.
- $7 Cup of Starbucks: A Logical Extension of the Coffee Chain’s Long-Term Strategy TIME 2012-11-30