Coffee, Coffee, and More Coffee

Our second tour of the day was of Café Britt, which has a large presence in the international market, however not so much in Costa Rica. We started with lunch, took a tour of the plantation, and finished with a presentation all about Britt.

Café Britt does a couple different things contributing to the supply chain, depending which product/type of distribution they are employing. First, let’s start with coffee. The majority of Britt’s coffee comes from upstream partners that grow the beans. They do have their own plantation, but they import a lot of coffee to roast along with what they grow. In the presentation, we were told Britt has an international presence when it comes to cooperating with upstream partners. Along with buying coffee beans from local Costa Rican plantations, Britt buys from Colombia, Brazil, and most of the major coffee growing countries. Through the buying from international partners upstream, Britt diversifies their supply chain, which stimulates the global economy and lowers risk within the supply chain.

We also learned about two different downstream methods Britt uses when selling coffee. Most of their downstream income comes from selling to restaurants, cafeterias, and other retail outlets that get the product to the consumer. The second method is selling straight to the consumers. This is a small part of their downstream business, as they focus a lot more on the international sales. They sell to the customers two different ways. We experienced the first way today when they were selling coffee at the Britt store on our visit. Second, Britt does sell coffee online to customers who want to buy their products. Britt focuses more on selling through retail chains, so they don’t do much in terms of selling straight to consumers.

Apparel is also a large portion of Britt’s business. Upstream partners were not discussed much in terms of apparel. They make a lot of their apparel, so I assume most of their upstream partners supply raw materials, such as fabric for the clothing. Their upstream partnerships don’t seem to affect the supply chain as much as their downstream partners do.

When selling downstream, Britt also employs two major methods with apparel. The first method is the apparel in the Britt store that we could have bought, which is selling straight to the customer. Their second method involves a retail chain, where they sell apparel in a lot of countries, mainly in airports and other tourist outlets where they can buy country specific apparel. Just like with the coffee supply chain, the apparel supply chain has a strong international presence, diversifying the chain and reducing risk.

We briefly talked about my group’s project, making, in our discussion at Café Britt today. Making contributes to their successes because it is sustainable and sometimes “organic”. Britt emphasizes that they make their coffee using sustainable methods, and they also have some organic roasts. They use their making methods as advertising points to make customers think they are buying quality products that aren’t hurting the environment. Britt also doesn’t take as long to roast their beans as other companies, such as Doka (Britt’s light roast took 10 minutes while Doka’s took 15 minutes). They gain an advantage of being able to produce more coffee, and therefore, sell more coffee.

Britt focuses a lot on their international presence, which strengthens their supply chains. Additionally, they found some competitive advantages while making coffee, such as reducing roast time and emphasizing their contribution to sustainability.

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