Brewing corporate plans over Filipino coffee

From inquirer.net by Margaux Salcedo

COFFEE experts Chit Juan (left) and Nick Matti (middle) inspect local beans.

COFFEE experts Chit Juan (left) and Nick Matti (middle) inspect local beans.

After last week’s column on wine, let’s sober up this week with coffee.

After all, while a lot of deals are sealed with champagne, the brewing of plans usually begins with a cup of coffee.

There was a time when competition was among instant coffee brands. Folgers was a family favorite. And coffee was enjoyed best in hotel lobbies, not at the nearest cafe.

Then the Starbucks generation arrived. Instant coffee was suddenly looked down on, and the Americanized Italian cafe was born and it mushroomed everywhere.

Coffee drinkers suddenly became coffee connoisseurs, getting picky with beans and blends.

Proudly Pinoy coffee

But we no longer need to look to Italy for great roasts or Brazil for great beans. We have great coffee right here on Philippine soil.

A strong advocate for the promotion of Philippine coffee is Chit Juan, founder of the Philippine Coffee Board. She is also one of the owners of EchoStore and EchoCafe, a deli and cafe promoting local produce, especially local coffee.

While others are selling international brands and promoting international beans such as this latest spate of “third wave” cafes promoting Ethiopian coffee, Panamanian coffee or a rare Indonesian Aceh Gayo, Juan tells us to first try Kapatagan, Mt. Apo, Mt. Province, Matutum and Sagada coffee from beans that are proudly Pinoy.

Proof that Philippine coffee is among the best? A cupper—someone who grades coffee—recently gave her approval and a score of 80 to beans from Mt. Apo. These beans were then entered in a Roasters Choice competition in Thailand and brought home two awards.

Coffee connoisseurs

But not all beans are of superior quality. Like wine, appreciation for coffee is also an art; and like wine, coffee is graded to justify its value or specialty price. If the wine industry has sommeliers and wine critics who evaluate wines, the coffee industry has cuppers or coffee tasters.

Juan explains, “Cupping has its own language, its own standards and internationally-recognized metrics to grade coffees while they are still in their raw state or what we commonly call ‘green beans’. The international standards for Arabica coffee, one of the varieties we produce (the others are Robusta, Excelsa and Liberica, known locally as Barako), is monitored by international bodies such as the Coffee Quality Institute, Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE).”

It was actually Filipina-American cupper Kat Mulingtapang who rated the Mt. Apo coffee that won in the Roasters Awards. Mulingtapang has a license as a Q grader, a quality coffee grader for Arabicas. She cups 75-80 lots a day, observing the beans’ tastes and flavor nuances to distinguish flavor profiles.

Juan recalls how Mulingtapang would distinguish coffee nuances.

“Early this year, we traveled to Sumatra together for the International Women’s Coffee Alliance to help form the IWCA Indonesian chapter. And we cupped coffees each day over breakfast, at cafes, in roasters’ places, ‘Chew the coffee,’ she would tell me. ‘Then tell me if you can taste the Chewy Caramel candy.’ She would encourage me to find that caramel taste in the black liquid served us. And somehow, she can suggest the exact taste profile. She does this for a living, after all.”

The good news: after Mulingtapang cupped Philippine coffees, scoring them using the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) and Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) standards, she gave our coffees high scores so certain beans she chose will now be offered to coffee companies in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, among other coffee importers.

Pinoy cafe

A cafe where you can appreciate all kinds of Philippine coffee is Commune Cafe in Salcedo Village.

You will never get bored with the flavors either as the Philippine Coffee Board supplies Commune with whatever new bean find it has.

And you can be sure that it’s good as the Philippine Coffee Board has strict standards. A really good bean to try would be the Kapatagan bean from Mt. Apo in Davao.

If you want to appreciate the beans at home for your daily brew or to give your office a signature brew, try Echostore.

It offers Benguet Arabica (P275 for 250 grams), Peaberry from Kandayok, Panamao, Sulu (P325 for 250 grams), and Philippine Civet coffee also from Sulu (P750 for 100 grams), among other Philippine beans.

It’s time to go local and support the Philippine coffee industry. The next time you drink coffee, opt for Sulu Civet instead of Ethiopian Yergacheffe. Or Benguet Arabica instead of a Brazilian blend. And be proud to drink and promote Pinoy brews.

Commune Cafe
Liberty Center,104 H.V. Dela Costa, Makati
Call 0933-7200241
Visit www.commune.ph

EchoStore Serendra
G/F Serendra Piazza
McKinley Parkway, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Tel: 9013485

EchoStore Salcedo Village
G/F NDC Building
116 Tordesillas St., Salcedo Village, Makati City
Tel: 8691516

For a complete listing of EchoStores, visit www.echostore.ph
Follow the author @margauxsalcedo on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. Visit margauxlicious.com.

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Posted in Press Room.