“When the National Coffee Development Board (now the Philippine Coffee Board, Inc.) was first created, one of our challenges was to get consumers to focus on Philippine-grown coffee as opposed to imported coffees,” related PCBI founding trustee Guillermo Luz on the creation of the iconic Kape Isla seal.
Luz pointed out that the group’s original intention was to use the Kape Isla seal as a way of identifying Philippine coffee. It was meant to be used in tandem with any local coffee brand which predominantly used Philippine-grown coffee.
“At the outset, we had no way of formally testing coffee for quality,” Luz explained. “We just instinctively felt there was a need to create awareness around Philippine coffee. An applicant had to make use of mainly Philippine coffee in their product to use the seal.”
When prodded on what the tangible benefits were for the coffee industry, Luz noted that the consumers became more aware of the Philippine coffee and began to ask for Philippine coffee. “Over time, we were able to educate consumers about different types of beans―Robusta, Barako, Arabica, Excelsa―and even origins such as Benguets, Kitanglads, Kapatagans, [and others].”
He added, “The Kape Isla seal is important, but we’ve gone way beyond simply stating a coffee is from the Philippines. Today, consumers want to know what type of coffee bean is used. They want to know if the beans are blended or single-origin., where they come from, what elevation they grew in, how they were processed, and even who farmed them. By focusing on these aspects, we actually promote and generate greater market interest, which also helps build up quality (and price and incomes for farmers).”
Luz closed with an optimistic view of the future of quality Philippine coffee. He asserted, “Ultimately, we want coffee farmers to earn more from growing coffee and this can only happen when they grow more quantity and produce the quality that consumers want.”