Modernization of Coffee Processes

The democratization of technology is a rapidly growing idea, especially in the days of constant modernization during this 21st century era. It seems that nowadays, in the US, technology is the root of everything, with our lives simply revolving around computer devices. However, as I explore the history and importance of coffee in Costa Rica—production, distribution, etc.—I’ve found the processes by which it’s grown, produced, and distributed, are still heavy reliant on man. I do believe technology could be implemented into the processes very easily, however I’m not so sure that this implementation would be entirely beneficial.

Technology could easily modernize the distribution process. I’ve wondered for years why Baristas still exist. Computers exist in some food chains in which you select which type of soda you’d like, place a cup beneath an opening, and the machine spits out your selection. Why not have machinery that works in the same way in which customers can select and customize their coffee and tea orders? I’m sure the computer would be a lot quicker than the baristas scrambling around to find the right milk to add to the right cup to stir with the right combination of syrups on the other side of the workspace. I personally prefer human presence in most jobs, such as food distribution or customer service over the phone; however, if computers have already taken a large role in many of these jobs, I don’t see why it shouldn’t expand to that of gourmet coffee.

It’s also easy to imagine technology playing a role in the growing and harvesting process of coffee. Machines usually harvest most crops on large farms in the US, but here in Costa Rica, migrant workers hand pick coffee cherries. This work is backbreaking, exhausting, and seasonal. Additionally, workers go months without seeing their families. It could be fairly easy to implement machinery to take over the harvesting process—some sort of computer, driven by a worker, that combs through the bushes and pushes ripe cherries down into containers below. While this insertion of machinery could be fairly easy, I don’t necessarily believe it’s a good idea. The work is extremely difficult, and doesn’t have the best conditions for workers, but these workers travel long ways to reach Costa Rica in order to pursue this work. The migrant workers don’t have many other opportunities, and they need the money to take care of their families. If machinery took over, all of these workers wouldn’t have jobs. They wouldn’t be able to sustain themselves or their families, leading to a huge increase in poverty levels in central America.

Therefore, in some ways, the democratization of technology could be useful and more efficient, such as within the distribution of coffee. But this technology can also have harmful and disadvantageous effects in the bigger picture, so we must weigh the benefits with the consequences before jumping into the modernization of the field.

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