Café Britt: More Than Just Coffee

Initially I found it surprising that tourists would love a gourmet coffee brand that local Ticos don’t approve of, but after a few minutes into the lecture at Café Britt I realized why. Café Britt is heavily marketed towards tourists and one of the company’s main priorities is exporting coffee. When Café Britt first started it signed a trade agreement with European countries to export 91% of all the coffee that the company produces, leaving only 9% of the coffee for Ticos. The coffee left over for the Ticos is terrible quality coffee that was often mixed with sugars or even ink to improve the taste or color. On the other hand, the 91% of coffee produced for tourists and exportation is of extremely high quality and most of all delicious. Also, Café Britt has many marketing schemes that makes their products very attractive to tourists. The bags they sell the coffee in are very aesthetically pleasing and their design captures the Costa Rican culture and pride. This makes the coffee very easy to sell to tourists while the marketing scheme may not have an affect on local Ticos. Café Britt’s marketing and quality differential between coffee sold in Costa Rica and coffee exported is are both reasons why Ticos don’t enjoy Britt Coffee while tourists do.

Recently Café Britt began to sell more than just coffee. Café Britt sells over 1000 different products including cookies, chocolate, key chains, tee-shirts and other related merchandise. Britt has also established itself as a travel retail company by opening stores in multiple airports across Latin America. Britt also plans to open standalone chocolate shops and bakeries in airports in which they don’t even sell coffee. Britt supplies products directly to consumers and is further downstream than a company like Doka. Doka produces “green coffee”, which is coffee that still needs to be roasted and is not yet ready to be sold to consumers. Doka sells its raw materials to other roasting companies such as Starbucks or Green Mountain which then sells a finished product to their consumers. Doka is more upstream than Britt since Doka only exports raw materials while Britt sells finished products and goods.

From a management standpoint, Café Britt is very complex. They employ over 1600 workers, most of which are salespeople. In addition, Café Britt operates in 11 different countries making communication and organization between different locations somewhat complicated. There needs to be a very organized system and hierarchy of employees to ensure that there is fluid communication between different parts of the company. On a different note, Café Britt’s management is very inventive. They are constantly working on different community outreach programs and service projects. Their management also seems eager to try out new ideas such as opening a chocolate store or a bakery, which is an unfamiliar market for Café Britt. Personally, I think Café Britt’s approach on expansion and growth is very interesting and smart. The company is more diversified than I would ever imagine. If it wasn’t for the lecture at Café Britt I would’ve left their plantation thinking they are primarily a coffee company. Its clear to see that Café Britt’s success stems from its innovative thinking and fearless approach when considering new ideas.

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