The Final Stretch

These past two weeks we have explored various coffee, banana, and pineapple plantations where we got to learn about the supply chain process. My group’s focus was primarily on the design aspect so it was important for us to note the way the plantations approach marketing and design in terms of their farms and selling techniques.

Farm: Within the coffee plantations, we witnessed very similar designs and layouts across most of the farms. For instance, all the coffee plants were organized in rows rather than randomly spread or in clusters. This design allows the workers to easily navigate and collect the fruits without any unnecessary challenges. Furthemore, many of the farms we visited are designed and marketed as sustainable and/or organic. Many have the Rainforest Alliance certificate and certifications of organic farming. For instance, Don Guillermo’s farm prides themselves on being sustainable and giving back to their local community while still producing quality products. They focus on marketing this side of their company rather than solely focusing on the coffee growing aspect.

Processing mills and exporters: As we saw at DOKA farm, many of the machines used today in the coffee process were designed and made a hundred years ago but since they still work efficiently and effectively, the company sees no point in replacing them. If the design process is effective, why change it. I was interested by this perspective because I feel as though in the U.S., everything old is always replaced even if it works. People are always looking to improve and have something that is even better, for instance iphones, everyone always wants the new and improved iphone whenever it comes out. But in the farms at Costa Rica they see no use in spending extra money to alter a design that has proven to be effective.

Coffee roasters and retail stores/cafes: Coffee roasters and stores such as Café Britt focus primarily on the marketing and design of their products. Although the product is an important aspect of the process, the marketing approach is even more important as that is what compels customers to purchase the products in the first place. Café Britt originally focused all their attention on tourists and providing gourmet coffee for them but when the pandemic hit, they were no longer being visited by tourists and therefore had to come up with new marketing approachs to keep their company afloat. In response, Café Britt created several new brands to appeal to the at home barista and invested into digital media where they quickly saw a rise in sales. This shows that overall coffee brands should focus a lot of their attention on e-commerce as that is where a large portion of the market is. They also described how when they enter into international markets they try to blend in with the local culture by using the country’s landmarks and slogans. This was new information to me and it definitely taught me to look out for potential tourist traps in any future locations I visit.

Customers: The design of packaging and the marketing approaches of a brand such as coffee is a key aspect for the customer. First off, the packaging of a coffee bag is the first thing a customer will see, so it has to be appealing enough so that the customer will want to purchase this product. Or the advertisements for this product should be great in that their brand has made a name for themselves through marketing tactics so that when a customer goes to the store, they buy that specific brand solely by recognition. For example, Café Britt has been successful as making themselves known as a gourmet coffee brand, appealing to tourists but not particularly Ticos. As a customer myself, i’ve definitely fallen for buying something simply because i’ve heard others mention it and by the sole look of the packaging, and i’m sure i’m not the only one. I think actually hearing this first hand from a company’s marketing coordinator has definitely put it more into reality and makes me think about my future choices regarding which coffee I choose to buy and based off of what criteria.

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