The landscape in the Philippines is slowly shifting, giving way to a new crop of coffee entrepreneurs and farmers who have taken from the previous generation’s players and added a sparkling out of the box ideas, innovative thinking, and boundless energy. Some of these young women who are taking the best of the past to shape the present share their hopes for a dynamic caffeinated future in the country.
As a coffee drinker, it is exciting that we are able to contribute to beloved drink and industry. It is a proud moment for our teams to be one of the new generations of coffee farmers in Iloilo who are pushing for quality coffee.
Le Granja Cereza Roja was started by Genevieve Bionat’s father, Edgar, in 2012. He planted Robusta coffee trees in the farm in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo. When he passed away in 2014, Genevieve’s family made sure to continue his legacy project. “We have decided as a family to continue this dream project for our dad, as well as support the community we have built with the farm,” said Genevieve.
“Our farm us is only 45 meters above sea level and it is a challenge to grow even Robusta. It’s difficult to find a good water source in the area as we are not near any rivers or irrigation system. With the rain-catchment lagoon in place, we have a steady water supply throughout the year so we can water our plants during the summer months. We also needed shade for the coffee, sow e decided to intercrop our coffee with banana. Fast income was a challenge for us. That is why we planted bananas as intercrop, as this was a staple raw material for our products.”
“In our farm, we have made our own ‘sorting table’, where our staff can sit down and chat while sorting. We have put holes on the table, and attached a sack per hole, so they can directly slide their good beans into the sack. For the all-weather dryer, we have made a raised structure with drying beds and covered it with UV-treated plastic. We can just open the sides and let direct sunlight dry our cherries. When it rains, we close the sides. No need to put the cherries in a sack or keep them in a bodega.”
“I think that it is time for the new generation of farmers to focus on the correct processing of the harvest, to bring added value to the coffee and cacao products and bring in more income for their communities. We open our farm as a demo farm as support for this initiative, through coordination with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry.”
FROM SEED TO CUP
“The Iloilo coffee industry needs a revival, and we are here to share our knowledge and experience with out fellow farmers. Iloilo has a renewed interest in quality coffee, and little, new players are coming in the forefront to provide quality coffee. All players should work together to elevate Iloilo coffee to the next level.”
As a coffee farmer, I get excited when we are able to do the right processing techniques. BACOFA hopes to be known as a producer of specialty coffee beans in the country.
Criszalyn Casanes is the current secretary in the Balutakay Coffee Farmers Association (BACOFA). It may be recalled that the BACOFA was founded in May 2013 with 20 coffee farmer members owning smallholder lands in Mount Balutakay, Davao Del Sur. It has now increased to 68 members and strives for quality coffee production, specifically for Arabica green beans.
PLANTING THE SEEDS
“I thought I would be involved in coffee at an early age, since my grandfather had one of the biggest farmlands for coffee before, which he passed on to his children.”
“The challenges that I have encountered include knowing the right processing techniques, the proper harvest and post-harvest steps to take, even the right fertilizers to use. To overcome this, I have attended trainings conducted by NGOs and LGUs, to further increase my coffee knowledge.”
“I want to be able to share with others the knowledge on proper handling, care and processing of coffee.”
FROM SEED TO CUP
“I believe that the next generation will be important, since they will carry on whatever we have started, with new technology to help them in the future.”
Bea Belardo has been exposed to the coffee business early, with Belardo Coffee Enterprises operating as a top exporter for coffee in the 80s. Today, the company is one of the longest running millers and traders in Amadeo, Cavite. Cafe Belardo, a small coffee shop that was established in 2010, has become a destination place in Amadeo.
PLANTING THE SEEDS
“I received my Q Robusta Certificate on November of 2017. I thought that this will be a gateway for me to help farmers and producers get the most out of their crop. During the intensive six-day training and exam, I was able to familiarize myself with the different profiles of local and imported Robustas.”
“We previously did not cup our inventories. Since I learned how to cup, we made a difference by integrating this procedure within our company. This way, we do not sacrifice the quality of our products just by trusting the suppliers’ judgment of the green beans. We have been more skeptical of the incoming inventories.”
“Through a thorough discussion of forum of other processing methods which will eventually be taken into practice, and by cupping, I think the coffee farmers can be well informed of what goes on with the current coffee industry. I want them to realize what they assumed to be a declining coffee industry is in fact the opposite.”
FROM SEED TO CUP
“Always support local. Try to taste coffee from different origin and appreciate the tedious process it has gone through before it reached the cup. There are few cafes that serve Filipino specialty coffee. These few mostly aim to aid small community farmers and micro-lots with their produce. Better yet, learn to brew your own coffee. You’ll start to develop the urge to find more amazing coffee.”