Today, we visited Coopedota which is a cooperative that consists of around 900 small farms that work together in order to be competitive within the coffee industry in Costa Rica. This is unique because there are so many different companies working together in a type of democracy. All decisions that are made affect thousands of people throughout the cooperative, so they elect representatives in order to accurately represent the overall views of everyone. This type of management is very different from that of a normal competitor in the coffee industry because there are so many different perspectives than that of one singular plantation. This can cause issues because it is virtually impossible for 900 people to agree on everything.
Even though this is a difficult structure, there are so many benefits that the different farms receive in comparison to if they were to work on their own. These farms all grow their own coffee beans, and then send them to the central receiving portion of the cooperative where the beans are then sorted by quality, region, and certifications. Since these farms are so small, they most likely do not have the funds for their own mill nor do they produce enough coffee to have their own brand and be competitive. Sending their beans to Coopedota eliminates having to purchase all of the equipment for the milling process. If they all had to produce on their own, none of them would be successful enough to stay in business.
The central Coopedota mill processes most of the beans, but they do have smaller micro-mills in other locations. These micro-mills are used to produce specialty coffee. There are many types of specialty coffee, but one that is very important to Coopedota is the coffee that has the rainforest alliance certification. This certification is obtained by being conscious of the environment throughout the community while living a healthy lifestyle. There are also other certifications that can be obtained such as conventional, AA (which means the coffee is 100% arabica), and then AAA (which means 100% of the beans are mature). Overall, the community of Santa María de Dota is supported by the cooperative. The small companies throughout the community truly benefit from the efforts Coopedota, and they all are better contenders within the market because they are working together.