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“Coffee is passion.” This was the sentiment shared by Samuel Gurel of Torch Coffee and one of the judges at the recent Kape Pilipino*—the first Green Coffee Quality Competition ever held in the country. He was joined by internationally renowned judges Shaun Ong from Singapore, La Lida from Thailand and Mbula Musau from Kenya.

During a briefing prior to their grueling five-day judging, Samuel expressed excitement about sharing the story of our coffee farmers and to help get that out. “Asia has a lot of promise and potential. My personal mission and vision is to see Asian coffee quality increase and be introduced to the world. I want to change opinions on what Asia coffee can be.”

President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. (PCBI) Chit Juan shared that 78 coffee samples had been submitted from all over the country, from the northern Cordillera Administrative Region and all the way down to the south in Sulu. PCBI founding chair Nicholas Matti was hopeful for what Kape Pilipino could mean for coffee farmers. “It is an encouragement for farmers and gives them confidence, once they feel that they can emulate what others have achieved to attain good coffee. It all starts in the farm.”

Robert Francisco, a long-time coffee expert and a Q grader like the other judges, assisted them during the judging held at the Cavite State University. At the end, 12 Arabicas and 10 Robustas scored above 80 points.

Inhandig Tribal Multi Purpose Cooperative (ITMPC) from Malaybalay, Bukidnon won this year’s Kape Pilipino Green Coffee Quality competition for the Arabica category, scoring 85.84 points. ITMPC was organized on March 12, 1998 and duly registered with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).  A total of 20 members, mostly of the Inhandig indigenous peoples (IP) group, were the founding members. The founders are just few of the co-owners of the Daraghuyan CADTI area in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

Kape Maramag of Maramag, Bukidnon won the Robusta category with 83.75 points.  Kape Maramag started as a small-scale, community-based coffee enterprise managed by the Federation of Rural Improvement Clubs (RICs) representing the twenty (20) barangays of the municipality of Maramag, Bukidnon, Philippines. Kape Maramag was organized in 2012, through the collaborative efforts of various local and national government support agencies.

Both winners used the natural process and brought out floral and dark chocolate notes for Robusta, and floral and caramel notes for the Arabicas. They will send their representatives to Seattle, Washington this April to attend the Specialty Coffee Association Expo. “I’m truly amazed by the taste profile of the winners,” Samuel said at the end.

Through Kape Pilipino, the winners can now command a higher price in the specialty coffee market. Through this year’s competition, the foundation has been laid for the future and stirs up interest for Philippine specialty coffee.


*Kape Pilipino is part of the Mindanao Productivity in Agriculture, Commerce and Trade (MinPACT) project. This project is funded by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and implemented by ACDI/VOCA. Philippine Coffee Board Inc. (PCBI) is the grantee organization which conducted the events for better quality consciousness of producers for specialty Arabicas and fine Robustas.


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