In a small country like Costa Rica, there is a lot of competition amongst businesses to maintain consistent customers. These corporations must edge each other out in terms of affordable prices and quality products. In industries like coffee, Costa Rica produces large, high grade quantities. This means that for some farms that struggle to get their names known, or to turn out enough to stand on their own, a cooperative is the best option.
Coopedota is a key example of how cooperatives have taken off in the coffee trade. Made up of 900 farms from the Tarrazú region, they are continuing to grow in size. Sourcing from farms that are situated in the same high elevation area allows Coopedata to sustain a consistent level of relatively equivalent coffee. If one farm has a bad season, the cooperative is still able to provide to their buyers because they have 899 others farms to rely on, making unexpected occurances less detrimental for them. They also use the variations from each farm to blend them and make a higher value product. These are the competitive advantages that Coopedota has compared to the other coffee processors/roasters that we have visited.
This system also provides benefits to the participating farms. Because Coopedota has become a large collective, the smaller farms are able to piggyback off of their larger variety of resources and connections. Coopedota gives their partners more outreach that they otherwise would not be able to achieve on their own. This allows the small farms to survive because they would not be able to go head to head with the other large scale plantations (like Doka Estate).
The advantage of unifying 900 farms can double as a disadvantage. On the other hand, the fall of Coopedota brings all of the partners down with it. It is a high risk, high reward collaboration. It also constricts the participating farms to the boundaries of the coop, leaving them with limited opportunity. A third disadvantage of the cooperation is that it gives equal weight to every farm, no matter the size of the farm. At times, this can leave some of the larger farms shorthanded.
The small community atmosphere in Santa Maria de Dota would not be sustained without Coopedota. They are able to economically support an otherwise remote area. Families can continue an agricultural way of life because they aren’t bullied out by the increasing competition. This company exemplifies how the coop practice can be the best answer to financial supporting modest populations.