How ABA Can Help Coffee

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By Beth Garrison, MS.Ed., BCBA, CEO

"Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the science, derived from the principles of behavior, applied systematically to improve socially significant behavior."  -Cooper, Herron, and Heward (2007)

This week I've been thinking on all the ways the ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) can support the coffee industry.  As stated above, ABA is a science where the principles of behavior are applied systematically to improve socially significant behavior.  I don't know about you, but I don't know if there is anything more socially significant that drinking coffee!

One of the ways that ABA can help is through the process of making coffee.  There are multiple components to making coffee starting from the farmer that plants the coffea plant, and waits for it to grow 3-4 years before bearing the "cherries" which contain the seeds, or coffee beans.  Coffee is harvested 1-2 times per year, and then the seeds are removed from the cherries, dried, and shipped to roasters around the world to create their own unique coffee roasts.

Throughout this process, there are many different socially significant behaviors that can be defined and shaped, from making the business more profitable, environmentally friendly, and efficient for the farmers who harvest and extract the coffee beans, to also making the roasters' process more streamlined.  Finally, perhaps the most socially significant behavior that can be shaped is in the preparation of the coffee and interaction with the customer at the local coffee shop.  

How do we shape these behaviors?  We can use antecedent interventions such as process maps or technology, to assist in the production of coffee.  One of the major ways we can shape behavior is by using positive reinforcement procedures to increase performance throughout each step of the process.  Functional communication between all parties in the coffee process can also be targeted and increased so that there is a social connection between the roaster and the farmer, the farmer and the barista, and the customer to the farmer, roaster, and barista.  

Have any ideas on how ABA can help the coffee industry?  Leave a comment below!

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