The Future of Coffee

From the rural mountains where coffee plantations reside, we moved to the bustling city of San José to visit the university of Veritas. While we were there, we visited their Fab Lab and were able to play with scanners, create 3D figures on the computer, and see laser cutters and 3D printers. While we were there, our teacher told us that they were printing a new tripod part that they had lost. The ability to create a piece outside a factory is fascinating and is an example of how these new technologies effect the manufacturing world. With these new, efficient, and accessible technologies a whole world of options is possible. They can be used to reduce costs, speed up the manufacturing process, and help production quantities for even the smallest businesses.

In terms of coffee producers, the spreading of new technology could give small coffee producers a more competitive advantage. Costa Rica is a small country, and they can’t compete with the large quantities that other country’s produce, so they have to compete in terms of quality. With new tools to grow, roast, or package, Costa Rica can catch up to other high producing coffee companies. Also, they have the possibility for using less outside services. For example, a roasting company maybe one day be able to use drones to ship their coffee themselves instead of using an outside company. They may also be able to produce and print on their packaging instead of using an outside source. These technologies and ideas would take a lot of investment from the companies, but a significant increase in productivity could be worth the cost.

Although these new technologies are helpful, some of them really aren’t needed. One important factor is that Costa Rica has laws and goals pertaining to sustainability, and these new technologies would need to adhere to these. Any excess pollution or energy use could erase the benefit. For example, at the Doka estate we saw a wet mill which separates and peels the coffee seeds all without electricity. Not only this system efficient, but it saves money on electricity and saves energy. This use of water for energy is important because Costa Rica’s goal is to become carbon neutral. We also learned that coffee seeds can be dried in the sun or in ovens, but being dried in the sun produces a much higher quality. Sometimes, the older way is the better way and technology is not necessary. It’s hard for me to see a country like Costa Rica investing in fancy technology when their ways of coffee producing have been working for a majority of their history.

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