From Coffee Bean to Coffee Cup: Study Abroad in Costa Rica

Kias Simmons ’26, a double major in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Animal Science and Department of Agricultural Economics, was part of the Texas A&M Costa Rica Specialty Coffee Value Chain field trip that offered students a faculty-led, firsthand look at the process of coffee development from bean to cup in Central America. The trip provided students with a high-level experience within the coffee industry that is generally sought out by coffee professionals. Nadav Mer, a lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Economics and trip leader, was in his element, as it brought students along to a very high-level experience within the coffee industry that generally is only sought out by coffee professionals.

The shared experience created something special for a small group of Aggies. Six students from the College joined Mer on the trip through forests, mountains, active volcanoes, and switchbacks. The students’ experiences ran the gamut, from picking ripe cherry red coffee fruit from the tree to plodding across a patio with a rake to dry beans, topped off with a private tasting session of locally grown products. Coopetarrazú, a coffee cooperative in Costa Rica, helped provide some of these fundamental experiences during the trip.

Ayla Boyd ’24, a senior graduating with a degree from the Department of Food Science and Technology and certificates in Viticulture and Enology and Food Diversity, said that she has kind of a visualization of what the process is now from plant to cherry to beans all in one cup. She also got an understanding of the scale that they have and the methods that they use was special.

Eric Brenner, assistant director for the Texas A&M Center for Coffee Research and Education and trip co-leader, values the depth of education this study abroad experience provides. He believes that it gives the students a sense of understanding, as they learn everything that goes on behind the scenes – the science, the mechanisms, all the way to the consumer.

Simmons, for one, left the co-op with a greater respect for the coffee bean. He said that growing your own food, it tastes better, and now that he gets to reflect back on this whole process, he thinks coffee will taste a lot better to him.

Read More @ AgriLife Today

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