Redefining Technology

Modern times call for constant renovation of current existing industries in order to compete with newly constructed businesses. The effectiveness of a company typically derives from its flexibility to incorporate new technologies for their advantage and to stand out in comparison to other companies in the same field. Although many fields can hone the advantages that come from new technology, when it comes to coffee, there are certain processes that are more traditional, but produce better results in terms of the coffee beans.

One example for when a more traditional method is more effective is during the preparation of the coffee beans. Although there are new machines that have been developed to pick the cherries off the trees and roast the, many companies still try to use more traditional methods. Good coffee plantations will seasonally hire workers to pick each coffee cherry by hand to ensure the batches are proper and only red cherries are picked while the green cherries can be left to ripen and be picked later on. This ensures most of the crops are picked and each cherry is perfectly matured for optimal flavor. In addition, the drying process remains the same with more gourmet plantations using the sun to dry the beans rather than using  a machine. Although a machine takes half the time to bring the beans to the proper water content, the sun helps the beans bring out its essential oils and flavors that might be lost when drying through machines. In aspects like this, new technology is a setback for business because they lose their quality of the product.

There are ways coffee companies can benefit from new technology, one simple example is the use of social media. Café Britt talked a lot about the importance of creating connections with their customers and social media has enhanced their ability to increase sales since social media creates connections that seem more personal versus over email or the phone since there is always contact. Beside the use of internet and the booming development of social media, coffee industries can use other developments to help them advance and become more competitive.

One of the big ideas Café Britt talked about was its travel retail division and how large their revenue was for that department. One thing the companies can use are some of the new machinery to either create new souvenirs or enhance the ones that are already there. Laser cutters are known for being able to cut through may materials very quickly and create intercut designs all from one medium. With a focus of representing indigenous aspects of countries, retailers such as Café Britt can make products such as coasters using these laser cutters to make specific designs easily and in mass quickly. Not only can these designs create coasters, but they can be used to create patters and add texture to wood coffee mugs adding a unique characteristic.

Newly designed 3D printers can also be used in selling new products. It is an easy way to make intercut designs that are hollow, unique, and based off a design that was made on a computer or complied by a scanner. Although this technology may not affect sales directly, it can be used to enhance different experiences whether being used to build and demonstrate the different layers of a coffee bean, or maybe using different material that is not plastic to design stronger or more durable things. For example, if a more pliable material is used, there could be a change in design using different prototypes to recreate coffee bags that can maintain freshness so the product lasts longer. If a product like this could be developed, it can potentially be a new marketing factor increasing sales.

When it comes to how technology can help production may come from the use of drones and development of different cameras. Drones are useful because they are small and mobile. If a camera is attached to the bottom of a drone that is altered to  detect a certain wavelength, there is potential to differentiate red cherries from green cherries. This can help the pickers and the plantation owners to see what region has the most developed cherries and prioritize which sections should be picked and ensure all the cherries are picked, potentially increasing the number of beans and not allowing beans to go to waste because of timing. These sensors can also help track the development of the beans and monitor levels of algae, bean development, humidity, etc. Closely monitoring these aspects of the plant will help ensure the growth of the best plants and allow farmers to know what alterations might be necessary.

Automation has helped develop the distribution of coffee. Newly designed modes of transportation have helped increase the time it takes to move coffee from where it is grown to where it is roasted and then to whatever customer is buying the product. Many of these containment vessels are temperature and pressure controlled to they can try and regulate the conditions the product is sent in to try and maximize its “lifetime.” Although I am not sure if this is already in place, technology can also be used to create exact measurements for the conditions in the containment vessels. The main things to control for coffee is oxygen, light, moisture, and release bad gases that may be produced. If containment vessels can be equipped with the proper equipment to regulate these features, the freshness of the product can potentially increase since the bags they are packaged in can only protect the beans so much.

A newer technology that could also be developed is still derived by sensors. When we were at the coffee plantations, they were talking about how the different beans provide different flavors whether they are peaberry, regularly matured beans, green beans, or any faulty ones. In these cases, they try and separate the beans by size to try and have the right mixture for taste. A technology can be developed to sort the beans properly so that rather than by size, they are sorted by components or distinct features by a machine so that the flavor is more consistent and can make better brews. This way, the separation may allow for more distinct flavors and certain blends can be experimented with to create an unique flavor. This transformation can potentially lead to new flavors that consumers my enjoy, new blends of different beans, and rather than having 3 tiers of “gourmet” to “bad” beans, each bean can bring a distinct flavor. This could increase the number of sales for the companies by reaching a different group of consumers as well as change the way people consume their coffee.

Another way to change the way coffee is consumed is by mixing modern and traditional coffee. Many Costa Ricans use an old fashion “bolsa de café” to make their coffee which is essentially a cloth bag with a wooden ring where the coffee seeps into the hot warmer and slowly extracts the oils. This process is very similar to how loose tea is made. This process provides a richer, more well rounded flavor. Many Americans use Keurigs and instant coffee for their speed. This process has a higher probability of burning the roasts and extracting the flavors too quickly, destroying the taste. If there was a newer piece of equipment that mixes these two processes, there could be a medium for flavor and speed. The technology could be similar to a travel French press in a mug where the coffee roast is put at the bottom of a mug which can be disposed of later on when necessary or even some product similar to a “coffee tea bag” where the flavor can seep into the water slowly, but still be transportable. This technology is a mixture of modern and traditional.

Leave a Reply