Farewell, Pura Vida

The past two week have taught me more than I could imagine about the coffee industry. I never would have guessed how many stages were included in coffee production and how they all came together, especially from a selling standpoint. The first step to analyze in the coffee making process is coffee farms. Coffee farms grow the actual coffee beans and then many times sell them to roasters to be made into the final coffee product. What I have learned considering the selling process for coffee farms is that the most important decision they have to make revolves around the choice of whether to sell the beans on their own or to roast the coffee. Companies such as Doka have decided that it is more beneficial to sell solely the beans, however, some coffee farms have combined the processes into one, using their own beans to roast and sell. In addition to this, another important decision coffee farms have to make is whether or not to sell their beans locally or abroad. Smaller farms do not have the capability to sell the same amount and quality of the larger coffee plantations, so they many times sell their beans to cooperatives who combine the various beans into one finished product. On the other hand, those larger plantations have the opportunity to sell their beans abroad to larger companies in order to produce a higher level of revenue. Coffee farms have many decisions to make concerning selling and learning about the difficulty behind this process has given me a higher appreciation not only for those working on the farm, but those in upper management who make the farms successful.
The next step in the coffee production process is the coffee mills. The coffee mills clean the coffee beans received from the farms and are many times found as a part of the farm itself. While coffee mills do not sell anything per say, they have an incredibly important role to play throughout the entire process. Coffee mills do not only clean the beans, rather they sort the beans at the same time into higher quality and lower quality beans based on their weight in water. This is crucial in the selling process for coffee farms and roasters as the lower quality beans are typically sold at a lower price and to local Costa Rican companies while the higher quality beans are sold at a higher price to either local companies or abroad to large chains such as Starbucks, McDonalds, or many more. Personally, I never realized how important the bean quality was and has made me gain a higher respect for the coffee I drink on a day to day basis.
Coffee roasters and exporters are the next stage in coffee production and are possible the most important. One thing I learned from a selling standpoint of coffee roasters is that the type of coffee is incredibly important in the selling process. We learned a lot about the different types of coffee roasts during our two weeks in Costa Rica and every roast is unique in the way it’s sold. Everyone has a different preference on how their coffee is roasted and learning how to sell the individual types of roasts strategically is incredibly important to the success of the company. Coffee roasters also have the responsibility of deciding who to sell their product to, just as the coffee farms do. Keeping the coffee locally in Costa Rica is the strategy of companies such as Cafe 1820 who makes high quality coffee but has decided to sell it locally rather than abroad. On the other hand, roasting companies such as Cafe Britt sell their roasted coffee primarily in foreign markets all across the world which ultimately provides more revenue. By learning how coffee roasters work and the selling processes they go through, my understanding has increased tremendously on how and why certain selling decisions are made.
The next step in the coffee production process is the retail stores. The retail stores are where the actual sales occur where the customer purchase the final roasted product. Retail stores vary in many ways, especially in there selling techniques. Larger stores such as Starbucks or McDonalds sell their product in more of a standardized fashion, while Cafe Britt’s retail stores vary tremendously from country to country. One example which stuck out to me as far as selling is concerned is how Cafe Britt sells its products through specials such as buy two get one free. This is not unique to Cafe Britt, however, the company has found that this way of selling is beneficial to them and attracts more customers. The retail aspect of coffee production has shed light on some of the background decisions made which I personally witness whenever I visit coffee retail stores no matter how big or small.
Lastly, the customer is the final stage in the coffee process. The customer is the end goal for all stages along coffee production and without the ultimate desire from customers, there would be no sales. Selling to specific customers by personal marketing and special deals for individuals is one way coffee producers can intrigue specific customers to buy their product. As a regular coffee customer myself, I find that my favorite brands of coffee are the ones who appeal to my personal taste the most which has been the ultimate lesson we have learned on our trip in Costa Rica. The best coffee in the world is the coffee that tastes the best to you.

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