Costa Rica - Global Supply Chain and Logistics in Costa Rica

Program Dates
Wednesday, December 28, 2016 to Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Program Description

The Costa Rica WCOB course will focus on the complete supply chain “seed to cup” within the context of the coffee industry. Working in coordination with a local business, Bald Guy Brew, we will explore the world of coffee. The goal is to go well beyond providing a contextual knowledge of a commodity based supply chain by providing extensive opportunities for experiential learning. Student participants will help harvest berries on an organic (sustainable) farm in Costa Rica, observe the processing of berries into raw beans at a “beneficio,” participate in a focus group with organic farmers to discuss issues such as “fair trade,” meet with distributors and shippers who export raw beans, roast raw coffee beans, and "cup" roasted beans for a coffee tasting

Learning Goals and Academic Objectives

  • Raw Goods: Students will tour both large industrial coffee farms and small organic sustainable farms to see firsthand where the coffee (raw goods) are produced.
  • Initial Processing: Students will tour “beneficio’s” where the berries are processed into raw coffee beans.
  • Distribution: Students will meet with a distributor to better understand the coffee market, import and export laws, tariffs, shipping restrictions, etc.
  • Shipping: Prior to departure we will give the students an overview of the entire supply chain for the coffee industry. This will include a visit from supply chain professionals that specialize in global shipping by both ocean freight and air freight. We will also introduce them to the concept of “Freight Forwarding” and the role freight forwarders play in shipping and distribution during export and import.
  • Final Processing & Packaging: Prior to departure students will visit the Bald Guy Brew facilities in Boone, NC to learn handson how to roast raw coffee beans into a final product.
  • Consumption: Prior to departure students will assist in “cupping” the coffee they help roast. This is the piont in which the coffee is brewed for consumption. This will include a “coffee tasting.”


  • FairTrade Markets: Prior to departure students watch the movie “Black Gold” that documents the issue of “Fair Trade” from the prospective of small subsistance farmers in Ethiopia. This will emphasize the importance of the “fair trade” movement within the coffee industry and this will be investigated firsthand while in Costa Rica. Small subsistance farmers and owners of small sustainable, organic farms are often cheated out of fair prices for their crops around the world. We plan to setup a facetoface meeting with local small organic coffee farmers in Costa Rica to discuss these issues with the help of an interpreter (Don Cox). 
  • We also plan to include a “Dirty Jobs” day in which the students will tour an organic Costa Rican farm and actually assist in the daily activities of running a organic coffee farm during the height of the harvest season which occurs in January.
  • We plan to lodge in locations outside the cities and off the beaten path. Specifically we are looking to lodge in areas similar to a local 'bed and breakfast' associated with sustainable, organic farms. Such locations will provide opportunities for students to help harvest organic fruits and vegetables and also assist in preparing meals using these organic farm products.


  • We will tour museums, historical sites, volcanoes, rainforest, etc. as we travel to various farms, “beneficio’s,” distributors, etc.


  • Students will acquire basic knowledge of the Costa Rican government as it applies specifically to the coffee industry including government regulation for logistics/transportation, tariffs/


UG: SCM 3690 Global Supply Chain Logistics - 3 credits* 
G: MBA 5020-102 (on-campus students) MBA International Experience - 3 credits
G: MBA 5020-376 (distance ed students) MBA International Experience - 3 credits


  • SCM course fulfills  3 sh of IB major or IB minor elective credit, COB elective credit, is an SCM minor required course and fulfills the Global Issues Requirement. 
  • MBA 5020 - This 3 semester hour course fulfills the international requirement for the MBA program and is an elective for the international business concentration.


ECO 2100 or ST 2810 or permission of instructor

3000-level Pre-reqs: 54 earned hours and good academic standing. Students who do not have the minimum hour requirement cannot take this course at the 3000-level and should inform the program leader of this situation before applying.

*Undergraduate students must be in the College of Business.


Billable Program Cost: $3200 Includes: Airfare, In-country Program Transportation, Lodging, International Health and Evacuation Insurance, Program Events, Most Meals, and CCS Administrative Fee.
Estimated Additional Student Cost: $400-600 Estimated costs include but are not limited to: Immunizations, Personal Expenses, and additional meals. 

Program Leader

Dr. J. Ken Corley
College of Business

Students not eligible for this program who want to participate should contact the program leader to ask if accommodations can be made.
Eligible Groups: 
Undergraduate business majors
MBA students