A Little Help from my Friends

Coppedota, located in the Terrazu region, is a cooperative composed of 900 families in the coffee producing business. The co-op is maintained by a board of directors made up of representatives from each family, who then select a general manager to make company decisions. Coppedota is a huge facility which includes processes for milling, roasting, packaging, and even education and barista training.

Partaking in this cooperative provides some huge advantages for local farmers, hence why Coppedota currently contains 900 families and continues to grow. Milling individually is extremely expensive, so it cuts major costs having one large facility that takes care of all products for you. Additionally, co-op’s are beneficial for the environment, as one larger mill’s by-products can be controlled, whereas individual farmers may do as they please with their waste, and/or chose to abide by unsustainable practices.  Furthermore, the co-op assures that your product will be bought annually. With Coppedota’s export percentage sitting around 90%, it’s clear the coffee market continues to grow in Costa Rica, providing major incentives for farmers to continue to join the cooperative.

However, on the contrary, there are some farmers who chose not to partake in the cooperative, or chose to withdrawal their membership. In the co-op, all farms receive equal treatment. That means that a farm of say, 2 acres, receives the same treatment as a farm of 50 acres. While this is beneficial regarding payment and ensuring no farm receives preferential treatment, some farmers believe their larger plantations deserve more spotlight. What if your coffee beans are of higher quality? What if you implement sustainable, or nearly organic practices, or say, eliminate the usage of pesticides? Should you receive a higher price for your product then?

The idea of the cooperative definitely leaves room for many questions. With that being said, it’s clear Coppedota has a mostly positive impact on the surrounding community. The Terrazu region produces Terrazu coffee—one of the most expensive and most gourmet coffees. A growing cooperative directly correlates to more gourmet coffee produced, which feeds the demanding market, nourishing Costa Rica’s economy, and leading to increased annual supplies needed from the farmers. This ensures jobs for local farmers, workers of the mill, and opportunity for locals to gain education in the market, or even as baristas. Finally, the success of the cooperative provides additional support to the surrounding area by maintaining and increasing tourism in the community, and bringing attention to both the hard work and quality of the locals and their product.

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