San Jose!

¡Buenos Días! Today was another extremely long day, but we all had a great time. We took a train to the capitol, San Jose, and started the day by visiting Veritas, a university in the city. At Veritas, we were given a tour of the campus, and educated on some of the academic programs they offer. Next, we were taken to a computer lab and were taught the basics how to use the same software that Veritas’ engineering students use in order to 3D-print different models. After lunch, we met with a tour guide and embarked on a walking tour of downtown San Jose. Our stops included the national museum, the Supreme Court, the legislative chamber, and the Parque Nacional. Overall, it was a very informative experience as our guide was very knowledgeable and taught us all a lot.

Today’s blog prompt deals with the recent advancements in technology. These advancements are helping to make the world a more connected place and contribute to the speed and efficiency of global business operations. Since the purpose of our trip is to learn about coffee, it is interesting to see how technology can affect the journey of coffee, from a seed in the ground in Costa Rica to a plastic cup in a Pittsburgh Starbucks.

In terms of coffee production, there are many ways in which technology can be used to speed up the process. Instead of using human labor to pick coffee beans, it may be possible to one day delegate the job completely to robots or drones, who could pick with higher speed and better judgement of quality. We already see companies reaping the benefits of automation in some aspects of the production process, such as packaging.  Much of the packaging process is done by machines, which are able to churn out packed bags of coffee at a much higher pace than humans could.

Transportation of coffee is perhaps the facet of the supply chain that could most benefit from technological advancements. We’ve already heard about Amazon’s drone delivery, and it’s quite possible that coffee companies may adopt this strategy in the future. Not only can drones improve the speed and accuracy of coffee transportation, but they can also help reduce coffee company’s carbon footprint if they’re used as a substitute for low-mpg trucks. For a country as sustainable as Costa Rica, these possible benefits will mean a lot to the local companies that are concerned with protecting the environment.

In terms of consumption, we seem to see more technologies being developed every day that increase the quality of your cup of coffee. For example, Keurig and other coffee machine producers continue to innovate and incorporate the latest advancements in technology in their new products. These new machines, whether they are roasters, grinders, or brewers, continually outdo each other in terms of quality of the finished product.

While the flashy, high-tech inventions are certainly exciting, there are instances in which low-tech, traditional methods are superior. For example, the old-fashioned wet mill is still used by a majority of coffee companies during the production process. Yesterday, while touring Doka Estate, we were told that the wet mill has been used at high levels of efficiency in order to separate good quality beans from bad ones for decades. There still isn’t a superior method of doing this, even with all of the recent advancements in technology.

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