Hola, amigos! Today, we visited two coffee plantations, and they were amazing. I must be honest; I did not expect it to be that interesting, but I learned so much information in such a fun way. The first plantation was called “Doka,” and they are a family-owned business that’s been around for over 50 years. They grow, roast, and sell their own coffee. In this post, however, I want to focus primarily on the second plantation we visited: Café Britt.
Café Britt is a corporation with a few owners that is currently run by the founder’s son (CEO). Café Britt’s business model differs from Doka’s model in many ways, which begins with them only roasting and selling their coffee. They play a few different roles in the supply chain, depending on the time frame we are focusing on. For instance, in the beginning, they need to purchase raw materials such as green coffee beans and banana seeds. In this case, they are a buyer; however, their primary roles in the overall supply chain are making and selling.
Making the finished product costs a lot of money and is obviously a huge expenditure for the company. Therefore, they must make a lot of management decisions when it comes to this process. They need to figure out where they can create the best coffee and how they can make it taste better than their various competitors’ coffee. They measure success in this area by conducting intense taste tests, which involve trained professionals (Taste test training takes 5 years and involves much traveling!) making sure the taste is persistent and the aroma is recognizable and sweet. They also need to make sure they are being efficient and buying cheap raw materials but not sacrificing quality. Many of Britt’s financial decisions are left to the CEO and Board of Directors. Britt puts a lot of thought into which suppliers they will deal with, and they stressed the importance of a strong mutually beneficial relationship. Now, one important term for a company such as Britt is process enhancement. At the end of the day, selling roasted coffee is how they make money. They need to make their supply chain as efficient as possible by planning and mastering logistics. In my opinion, they have the most expertise in this area of the two plantations we visited, and it showed in their presentation.
Selling the product is where Britt thrives, and I could see why today. They are excellent marketers. From the second we walked onto the plantation to the second we boarded the bus, their associates were very engaging, and their tour guides and other workers were all very personable. Marketing is essential in earning the trust of consumers and influencing their decisions. Management decided to stop using television marketing and switched to social media to save money. According to their manager, they target tourism the most, and I could see it in their style of presentation (related much to American traditions/vernacular).
Besides marketing, one reason that Britt is so successful in selling is because they conduct a lot of market research. This allows them to understand the industry better and come up with new ways to differentiate their product. Management has funded research that has led to the creation of many blends of coffee. This is a good idea because it allows them to capture multiple market segments and increase their market share. It also increases customer loyalty, since people seldom become bored when flavors are constantly being created. Also, because of this research, the company has been able to diversify their business model in a variety of ways, including an expansion to many international areas and a decision to take advantage of franchising opportunities with airports and restaurants.
This business is well-thought-out and ran excellently. As a business model, it is perfect because it raises profit in many ways: Selling coffee, conducting site tours, franchising, etc. They also leverage their ecommerce website well by encouraging tourists to purchase coffee from them online when they make it back to their home countries. This easy-to-use website creates an ease of possession for the consumer, which is always a sales driver!
Despite being so successful with tourists and other international consumers, Britt does not have much success selling to local Ticos. I am not sure exactly why, but perhaps, most Ticos don’t drink Café Britt because they don’t feel that they are the ones being addressed in Café Britt marketing. The owner said that their focus is not international but local sales of coffee, yet I find this hard to believe. Ticos actually drink Doka coffee, and I know this because I showed my hostess, Abuelita, the coffee that I bought from Doka, and she recognized the bags and brand immediately; she exclaimed, “¡Ayyyy! Este es coffee muy rico [delicious]!” I asked her if she knew of the plantations, and she seemed to be a little bit more familiar with Doka. Perhaps, it is because the company has been around longer, but I believe it is because they have more Tico consumers.
I will admit that once I saw Britt’s presentation, I could tell that they were more profitable, and their presenter knew more about the business and industry; however, in terms of a good genuine image, I think that Doka has them beat, and maybe, Ticos respect this. Either way, I was lucky enough to taste some great free coffee and learn a lot about the processes. Until next time…