Today, as Professor Teeter had previously stated, the honeymoon was over. The “joyous” bells of the Iglesia 15 metros al sur woke me up at the comfortable time of 6:00 A.M., where I began my day with a quick shower and breakfast. After convening with the rest of the group at 7:15, we boarded a bus to Doka Estate in Alajuela for a tour of the plantation and a presentation on their role in the global supply chain of coffee. Next, we took our bus to one of Costa Rica’s biggest coffee tourist attractions, Café Britt.
Café Britt is known for their luxury coffee which is marketed mainly towards tourists. In terms of the coffee supply chain, Britt outsources the job of growing coffee beans to local, organic plantations. In order to be one of Britt’s suppliers, the plantations have to meet the company’s required procedures, as well as the expected quality of beans. In a presentation by one of their GM’s, it was explained that Café Britt expects their upstream suppliers to meet standards of quality that will allow them to continue to market as a very high end brand.
Another role of Café Britt in the supply chain is to sell packaged coffee downstream, either directly to consumers (mainly tourists), or to cafeterías (coffee shops) and hotels. When they choose to do the latter, they offer a range of incentives to these buyers in order to secure their business. Among these incentives are for Britt to supply equipment and training, in order to assure that their product is being prepared the correct way.
Café Britt employs multiple tactics in order to maximize their success in selling. Firstly, as I’ve already mentioned, they stress the importance of only buying gourmet quality beans from small, local plantations (the local component is part of their marketing strategy, in order to implement a cultural component into their brand). In addition, they have a large amount of pride in the way their product is packaged. As it was explained to us, before Britt came along, coffee was simply seen as a commodity. It was shelved in stores in bland bags, lying on their sides among others. Britt began designing their bags in a way that would eventually change coffee Costa Rica from a commodity to a luxury. Their bags contain drawings and other aesthetically pleasing elements, which enhanced their brand image as a premier supplier in high-quality coffee. Another element of their marketing strategy that makes them so successful is their concentration of advertising towards tourists. Simply put, unlike locals, tourists will be willing to pay higher prices for Café Britt’s products. The extra $1 or $2 in the willingness to pay between locals and tourists adds up in the long run. Finally, Café Britt is so successful because they continue to innovate and set goals while remaining a leader in corporate social responsibility. They have a strong code of ethics, the respect local authority and government, and work closely with the community. In addition, they’ve set a goal to make $250 Million in the travel retail market by 2018.
Overall, this was the most exhausting day, but it was definitely the most enjoying and informative.