Sunday, February 2008
My father was from the town of Kovno in Lithuania.
He told me about a tailor shop he knew as a young man there called “Misha’s – The Best Tailor in Kovno.” One of Misha’s employees decided to set up his own shop. The employee put a sign on his new business, “Jacob’s – The Best Tailor in Lithuania.” A third tailor, with an apparently more confident opinion of his abilities, opened his own shop, “Haim’s – The Best Tailor in the World.”
Then along comes the son of Misha, the original tailor, who was still in business. The son opened his own shop. Over the door, he put a sign, “David’s – The Best Tailor on the Street.”
Pioneers are a celebrated lot, but let’s face it, we’ve got it pretty tough. We blaze the trail. Take on the unknown. Improvise and overcome. Set a standard. Brace for the onslaught of imitators.
Here at Café Britt our reputation as a pioneering, country-of-origin coffee roaster, chocolate maker and promoter of coffee tourism have brought us world recognition. Success. But we wouldn’t be here today if we hadn’t learned to see into the future and adapt with the times.
Take our award-winning CoffeeTour, for example. When we launched the CoffeeTour in 1991, there was absolutely nothing like it anywhere in the Americas. Costa Rica’s master theatrical producer, Dionisio Echeverria had a big hand in its creation. But even he, at first, couldn’t believe what we were asking him to do.
I’d often heard him say of the task, “A stage play in a coffee plantation? ¡Insólito! – “Unheard of!” Our on-site theater now bears my late friend’s name.
The imitators have come. Judging from signs and slogans posted everywhere; Costa Rica is now full of coffee tours. One claims to be a “true coffee experience.” Another, a “real coffee tour.” Yet another a “gourmet coffee tour.”
We’re well positioned to welcome them all, because we’ve worked hard to keep our CoffeeTour fresh. Our tour visitors – more than 700,000, so far – can today learn to “cup” coffee like the pros. They can visit our working coffee farm and mill, Tierra Madre. They can create their own, unique coffee blends or sample any coffee drink they can imagine.
Our CoffeeTour has evolved. Our coffees and product lines have expanded. We’ve grown to operations in five countries. Our creative young staff works hard to stay ahead of the game, and we’re doing that.
We’ve been in this business for many years, now. Each year we try to do something a little different, while staying true to our core values – quality, service, community support, respect, concern for coworkers and suppliers, creativity.
We’ve proven that you can be a pioneer – an old veteran with the help of my two sons– and still be the newest, most creative, most interesting kid on the block.