Tour Guides or Actors?

Today we visited two coffee plantations: Doka and Café Britt. Even though these two companies both produce coffee, they are very different. Doka is a family owned plantation that not only brews its own coffee but also exports its coffee beans to be further processed in other countries. Their tour was very educational. While Café Britt brews its own coffee too, this is not the only market they participate in. They give entertaining tours of their coffee plant to attract tourists to their gift shop which sells all types of souvenirs, chocolates, and coffee. These two tours were two extremely different experiences.

Our tour at Doka was very informational and interactive. We were able to see real coffee plants in the ground, and some of us even got to practice raking the beans while they were drying in the sun. We learned how dedicated this family is to the coffee industry, and they really emphasized the quality of their coffee. In contrast, during our tour at Britt, we were led by two very charismatic men who made their lesson about coffee more fun than informational. We later found out that these two men were famous actors who also work at the plant. The manager of Britt realized that actors are not very busy during the work week, so they had the time to give these entertaining tours. The fun atmosphere of the Britt tour made it clear why tourists love this company. The tour even ends in a gift shop where you can buy coffee, chocolate covered fruit, t-shirts, keychains, jewelry, etc. Clearly, Britt focuses on the experience so that you will be more inclined to buy their merchandise at the end of the tour rather than speaking about the specific details about their coffee. This is why tourists enjoy it more than Ticos do; Ticos are not being sucked into the marketing and persuasion efforts of the tour guides at Britt. They instead focus on the precision and quality of the beans made at smaller local plantations like Doka.

The supply chain of Britt is also very different from that of Doka because Britt is a multilocal company which means it has stores all over Central America and some in South America. Doka is based solely in Costa Rica, but they export their coffee beans to countries all across the globe. Doka also has many different products which means they have many different suppliers. For example, a large amount of the souvenir merchandise they have is made in China. This is much more complicated in comparison to Doka whose main commodity, the coffee bean, is grown on their plantation.

In terms of logistics, Britt has shops in airports across Latin America and is the main provider of coffee to most local hotels. Since Britt is such a prominent company within the tourism industry, it has the funds to transport and store its coffee throughout the world. Doka does not have this advantage, so they must pay other companies to transport their beans for them. Both companies use outside digital platforms to receive orders for the coffee they produce. Britt bases their shipments on demand since they are specific to individuals while Doka’s shipments are mainly scheduled due to the constant orders from companies such as Starbucks and Green Mountain. Another difference between the two is how they pay their coffee bean pickers. Doka provides housing and other benefits to workers on the plantation because 80% of them come from Nicaragua during the picking season for work. They are paid two dollars per 28-pound bucket of beans, and they have the ability to save all of this money since they are being provided most necessities. On the other hand, Britt pays its pickers three dollars per bucket, and these workers are provided no benefits.

These different policies are what separate these two companies. Even though they are both a part of the coffee industry, they are very different. Café Britt is barely even focused on their coffee production today due to the success with their stores in airports causing the two companies to have completely different customer segments.

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