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Millennials, Gen Zs perk up coffee production in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — Gab likes her coffee sweet, but not saccharine. And so, her go-to drink is French vanilla: medium roast coffee infused with vanilla extract with a dash of milk.

Gab Cruz drinks coffee daily, and at times, twice, depending on the workload that needs to be done.

Coffee has been her go-to “caffeine” drink in juggling her work as a support staff in a research center at the University of Santo Tomas and her graduate studies.

She budgets around P65 to P200 for her daily coffee fix, spending more during a pay day.

“The second cup must be more than the first cup, and it is usually iced. My classes are until 9 p.m. and sometimes I feel sleepy in the afternoon,” Cruz, 26, said. “I like my coffee somehow sweet, but not too sweet like mocha.”

The likes of Cruz are driving the domestic demand for coffee, thus encouraging local Filipino farmers to produce more beans.

In 2023, the Philippines produced 30,000 metric tons of green coffee beans, a slight recovery from the 29,957 MT output in 2022.

Philippine Coffee Board Inc. president Chit Juan said farmers produced more Excelsa and Liberica beans since consumers demand more of these coffee varieties.

Juan said Liberica and Excelsa offer the sweet and fruity flavor profile that consumers like Cruz are looking for.

“(Farmers) are interested now with Excelsa and Liberica as they can get better prices than Robusta. Liberica and Excelsa are now fetching about P500 (per kilogram) while Robusta is between P160 and P180,” Juan told The STAR.

Coffee Liberica production inched up by 7.8 percent last year to 238.18 MT while Coffee Excelsa output expanded by almost three percent on an annual basis to 1,826 MT, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed.

Filipino coffee drinkers are becoming “more sophisticated” with their demand, creating a “hierarchy of preferences” in the market today, Juan pointed out.

Nonetheless, Juan noted that demand for instant coffee, which are usually made from robusta, continues to grow since it is the cheapest product accessible and available in the market.

“Demand is coming from young Filipinos. It is still that sweet demographic profile of the country,” she said.

Coffee demand is also driven by sectors like the business process outsourcing wherein employees seek caffeine to stay late at night, Juan added.

Juan said the advent of e-commerce has made coffee more accessible and cheaper for local consumers and for entrepreneurs interested in setting up shop.

According to Juan, Filipinos became more interested with coffee during the COVID-19 pandemic since they had a lot of time available at home, citing the case of the Dalgona coffee craze.

“It’s easy to open a coffee shop today. You can just buy a coffee machine online,” she said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the internet caused that. A lot of people now have knowledge about coffee beans,” she added.

The country’s production of other coffee varieties like robusta grew by nearly three percent to 22,000 MT while arabica output declined by 9.4 percent to 5,955 MT, PSA data showed.

In recent years, the country saw the rise of homegrown community coffee brands that were thrown into the mainstream spotlight like Pickup Coffee and TOMO Coffee.
“They are opening left and right,” Juan said.

Juan added that the internet, particularly “YouTube University” has also turned ordinary Filipinos into baristas who are capable of serving and competing at a professional level. “Recently we judged a competition and the barista learned everything through YouTube and she was good,” she said.



This post first appeared on Philippine Star by Jasper Emmanuel Arcalas.

Posted in News.