Hola! Today was a very exciting day in Costa Rica! We got to tour two different coffee producers: Doka Estate and Café Britt. We learned a lot about growing and processing coffee.
Ticos do not tend to drink coffee produced by Café Britt. Though I cannot say for sure why this is, I think that it has to do with the nature of the company. After the tour, we listened to a lecture about the company’s business strategies. It seems to me that Café Britt is a very tourism-based company that caters more to tourists than the locals. The Café Britt store itself sold many souvenirs and chocolates in addition to the coffee that you would expect. The lecturer raved about the company’s website, and how it allows you to order Café Britt items from all around the world (there is a special Café Britt center in Florida that ships out orders from the U.S.). After exploring the website more, I found that, though it is very nice, it is definitely made for the foreign market. In fact, the prices appear in U.S. dollars instead of Costa Rican colóns. In addition to this, he talked a lot about marketing; the coffee tour itself is a marketing strategy because people tend to buy coffee after they go on the tour. Simply put, I think that Ticos see Café Britt as more of a (possibly overpriced) tourist product, and tend to prefer other coffees.
Café Britt does not grow its coffee; it only roasts it. Doka Estate grows the coffee, and only roasts some of it for the actual site. Café Britt, when it is sold in grocery stores or at a café, is a manufacturer. It receives the raw product (coffee) from a coffee farm, and then roasts the beans, packages them, and distributes them to different grocery stores and other locations. If you consider the Café Britt stores, the individual locations are the customers who receive the produce from the Café Britt manufacturer.
Café Britt buys its coffee from sustainable coffee mills. They look for fair trade farms that grow their coffee in the shade to save trees, recycle the waste from the coffee beans, and that conserve water efficiently. In addition to this, at the Café Britt location, they hold a class on sustainability for young children. They also have a group of women who recycle unused coffee bags into reusable bags that are available for purchase. I think that all these efforts are valid, and I appreciate the company’s concern for the environment. I do wonder about the company’s other products, though. The coffee is sustainably sourced, but I do not know if the chocolate is, or if the souvenirs are fair trade as well. I think that, if the company wants to be more sustainable, it should start looking into sustainable practices on all of its fronts as opposed to only its coffee.
I learned so much today, and I can’t wait to learn more about coffee production!¡Pura Vida!