Reflecting on the Pure Life

Over the past two weeks in Costa Rica I have learned and experienced so much about business, culture, and environment and how they impact the production of coffee and bananas. Both foods have very complex and interesting processes and I had an amazing time going to all the sites to see how they work and to see how they fit into the supply chain. For example, when visiting Dole Plantation and Life Monteverde, we observed how bananas and coffee are grown. For bananas, they form from pods that emerge from the center of the banana herb. Only one pod grows per herb and the flowers that are revealed as the pod peals need to be taken off to prevent the attraction of pests. Finally, plastic is placed around and in between each banana bundle to prevent bruising and the invasion of pests. For the growth of coffee beans, the tree takes 3 years before it can start to produce coffee beans. The Arabica tree is the most common coffee plant grown in Costa Rica because it produces high quality coffee despite its small yield. Additionally, while growing coffee, biodiversity is very important to replenish the soil, especially when pruning every 20-25 years.

After the bananas have grown to a healthy size and the coffee beans are ripe for picking, both foods go to the next stage in the supply chain, processing and exportation. For both industries, the product is delivered to a factory by either monorail or by workers. At the factory, water is then used to clean both products’ exteriors. Bananas are then cut into the bundles seen at a supermarket and then left in water to remove all the banana sap and other organic materials. Stickers are then placed on the bananas as well as alamo, and then the bananas are packaged and sent to stores and companies.

When coffee is being cleaned by water, the pulp and sugars inside the cherries are removed as the cherries are being evaluated on quality. The deeper the cherry sinks in the bat of water, the denser the cherry is, meaning that cherry has high quality. The coffee cherries are then separated by quality and stripped of their outer organic materials. This is done using water mill powered process. The coffee beans are then left to oven dry of sun dry and are then sent to other companies for roasting. During this process in the supply chain, efficiency and manual labor is needed. Moreover, in terms of sustainability, both companies should first filter their water and then reuse it or return it to its original source.

Once the bananas and coffee are shipped to other companies, they are prepared and displayed to be sold. For bananas, supermarkets present and constantly replenish their bananas, especially since they are the fourth most consumed food in the world. In order to improve sales, most businesses try to display the bananas in an appealing way to make customers buy them even if they are not the best quality. When preparing coffee, the dried beans are then roasted for different durations of time to produce different coffee products. The then roasted beans are then cooled and possibly grounded depending on the desired product. Finally, the coffee is bagged and either sold at the roastery or sold to cafes and markets to be sold to the public similar to bananas. One major concern in the preparing and sale of bananas and coffee is to weigh what the customer wants and try to meet their demand in the most sustainable way possible. It is always important to value the customer’s opinion, but that should not change a company’s initiatives and goals, it should only drive the company to do more.

Ultimately, both companies meet the end of the supply chain, the customers. No matter the company or business, the customers drive profits and success. It is therefore extremely important to listen to their opinions and concerns and be prepared to make alterations to keep customers loyal. As a customer myself, this fact makes me happy to know that companies value my opinion. Furthermore, the sustainable practices of both the banana and coffee industry makes me a happy supporter. After this trip I feel better connected to nature and to two of my favorite foods bananas and coffee.

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