Would you like some Technology with your Coffee?

The technology boom has given individuals and small businesses tools that have led to advances in many areas of coffee production, consumption, and delivery that were never possible before.  From more efficient processing, to full blown marketing based companies, and to single serving kcups, the coffee industry has been impacted greatly by technology.

In the past coffee plantations had to do everything by hand, which is still the case for some of the steps in the process, but others were revolutionized by machinery. Pickers still go out with baskets and hand pick each of the fruits when it is ripe. Traditionally coffee beans were set in the sun to dry naturally. With the breakthrough of technology, we now have machines that can dry the beans faster. However, this is an instance when a traditional method is preferred because the sun results in higher quality coffee. When we visited Doka Estate they showed us how the highest quality beans are sun dried for all 5 days where the lower grade beans are sun dried for 2-3 days then dried by the machine. I think this is an interesting way to combine the traditional methods with technology to get both quality and efficiency in one process.

At the Fablab in San Jose we saw 3D scanners and printers, computer animated design software, and laser cutters. Much of the new technology we saw related a lot to the design of products and physically making them. High tech programs such as these could be used in the coffee distribution industry for the making and design of the coffee packaging. Certain companies, such as Café Britt who have huge tourism industries as well as coffee production, could greatly benefit from the technologies we saw. Café Britt could use the 3D scanners and printers to design souvenirs for their shops and test print them on a small scale first to be sure they like it before they mass produce them. This could serve as a more sustainable method of product testing for them because it would save Café Britt the expenses and time of sending it off to a production company for samples.

Technology has moved right into your daily coffee life through the creation of appliances like instant coffee makers and Keurigs. These have become common appliances in my home in the United States but here is Costa Rica many Ticos still use traditional methods to brew their coffee. No matter how you make it, at some point in the process your daily cup of coffee was impacted by the rise in technology.

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