Adios Costa Rica

Over the past two weeks I have had an amazing time learning about the supply chain of coffee and bananas, as well as Costa Rican culture. My groups topic was source, so we focused on where each step in the supply chain sourced what it needed (materials, labor, equipment, funding, etc.).

The first step of the supply chain we saw was the plantation. Doka and Life Monteverde were both very helpful in showing me where this step in the supply chain sources from. Both companies need the plants to grow coffee, workers, equipment to keep up the plantation, and funding. These companies were very similar in how they sourced. They regrew coffee plants with beans of old plants. They also used Costa Rican workers for higher up jobs, and brought in foreign workers to do most of the picking as Costa Ricans did not want to do this because of how tedious the work is.

These two companies also roast their coffee, making them the next step in the supply chain, processing mills and exporters. A big sourcing problem for processing mills and exporters is the cost of equipment needed to produce coffee. Without equipment they can not do their job, but getting equipment is very expensive. However, these companies find ways to get around these struggles. One example is that Doka saves money by doing the drying process manually and only using machinery sometimes. This cuts down equipments costs. Another way Doka cuts down equipment costs is by sending their beans to Germany to be decaffeinated instead of buying their own machine to do this. Since they don’t produce much decaf coffee, it would not be cost efficient for them to buy their own machine.

The next step in the supply chain are coffee roasters and retail stores/cafes. For this step we visited Cafe Britt and 1820. One sourcing decision these companies have to make is where to buy their coffee beans. Cafe Britt chooses to get high quality beans from smaller plantations. This puts them in the high end market, so they export most of their coffee. 1820 however sells most of its coffee in Costa Rica as it chooses to buy average quality beans from plantations so they sell their product for a more affordable price. Depending where they buy their coffee from, and what quality it is, affects what market they sell to.

The last step in the supply chain is the customer. This is the step where I get my coffee! I can get it from the coffee roasters and/or retail stores/cafes. After seeing all the steps in the supply chain, and what everyone has to put into it I have a much bigger appreciation for my coffee. I never realized how many decisions each step had to make about the products they source, just to be able to produce the product they will sell.

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