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While coffee production has been increasing in the past few years, the Philippines is still a long way from meeting the local demand for coffee. The Ultimate Coffee Guide gathers industry stakeholders to assess how everyone can enhance coffee productivity.

Robert Francisco joined PCBI as its technical consultant in February 2017, to help set up the Coffee Quality Center at Cavite State University for the first Kape Pilipino Green Coffee Quality Competition. Since then he has been busy as its executive director, implementing programs to improve the coffee industry. He received his Q-grader certification in 2015 and has been using his cupping expertise to further improve coffee quality in the country.

“Cupping the coffee is evaluating the product in a brew. Knowing the product and the brew will will tell you if the right notes will come out. Cupping will tell how processing was done. Cupping will tell how processing was done. Cupping is very important for both post-processing and post-harvest, to improve quality by changing processing or identifying where the bean is best for.”

“Learn how to cup to understand coffee.” (Robert Francisco, Executive Director, PCBI)

“As a philosophy, coffee stakeholders have to know their product. Whether they are certified or not, farmers, cooperative owners and traders should learn to cup and evaluate the coffee they are buying. When standards are elevated, they will no longer buy low-grade coffee. If farmers want to sell, they need to elevate standards.”

“The potential quality of coffee in our farms can be competitive with the global standards for quality coffee. Two things can happen: quality improves or quantity increases. If both come about, we can satisfy local consumption and exceed quality standards. If the demand is there, production will continue.”

“I currently see an aggressive trend that has been slowly brewing. And this was seen in Kape Pilipino competition, where the farmers were processing their beans to meet third wave standards. This is a high level of quality, with more scientific techniques being used to come up with beautiful coffee. More local cafés are buying local coffee because of the quality.”

Part of Bohol Coffee and Cacao Growers Association’s mission and vision is support for the children of poor coffee and cacao farmers with a full scholarship in Agriculture Technology. Ed Luardo explains, “We harness the youth by training them as coffee and cacao technicians and agri-entrepreneurs”.

After retiring in 2009, John Edgar Luardo took over the agricultural property left by his parents in Bohol. His quest for a crop that would fit into the non-irrigated farm areas led to coffee. Further collaborations with fellow coffee farmers resulted in the construction of the Coffee and Cacao Training School with its own nursery in Carmen, Bohol. His involvement eventually led to the creation of the Bohol Coffee and Cacao Growers Marketing (BCCGMC), with the help of PCBI and Agricultural Training Institute.

“The first coffee farmers to establish their farms were Dr. Fe Miñoza and Atty. Dionisio Balite. From then our group multiplied exponentially. Currently we have coffee farms in Carmen, Batuan, Bilar, Catigbian, Danao, San Miguel, Dagohoy, Mabini, Ubay, Anda, Talibon, Sierra Bulliones, Guindulman, Pilar and Duero. Coffee production in Bohol has multiplied despite the warthquakes. At least five to seven municipalities in the different districts of Bohol can claim that they have coffee farms already.”

“Through the Pick Red campaign of PCBI, the quality of coffee has improved tremendously. Imposing penalties made on green coffee cherries given to farmers was a bitter pill to swallow. Traders and buyers have to teach the farmers basic quality control, so they can obtain optimum prices for their coffee cherries. Buying fresh berries makes the farmers aware of what the buyer and trader want when they sell their coffee.”

“There is a need to create coffee quality technicians. Intensive training of a corps of coffee technicians should be emphasized by related government agencies. Creativity and innovation are needed to identify lucrative markets for the coffee farmers. Processing techniques, packaging, and marketing up the value chain must understood by the coffee farmer organization.

“Much of the varieties planted in Bohol is Robusta. With the help of PCBI, we were able to obtain planting materials of Arabica from Cordillera, Liberica from Joel Lumagbas and Dr. Mojica, and Excelsa from a Batangueño friend. Now we have our four coffee varieties and eventually will be making our very own Bohol Blend coffee, with a highland blend and a coastal blend soon.

“We have our own stories to share. Although these might not attract much attention, we take pride in the improvements that we have accomplished in our Bohol coffee industry.” (John Edgar Luardo, farmer and entrepreneur, Bohol Coffee and Cacao Growers Marketing Cooperative)

Commune started in 2013 as one of the first few independent, third-wave cafés in Manila. Commune still remains proudly Filipino, from its coffee to its menu. Commune serves only 100% Philippine coffee from various farms in the country.

“When Commune started in 2013, people were asking me why I served only Philippine coffee. I was on a quest to prove that if you knew where to look and if you worked with the farmers to improve the quality of their coffee, you will be amazed by Philippine coffee.”

“I see a lot of work ahead of us but I see a lot of hope. Now that the demand for quality coffee is increasing, farmers are also more interested to know what coffee quality is all about. Now, it’s time to level up and work on the quality of the coffee they grow. The demand for quality coffee will definitely serve as an inspiration and motivation for our farmers.”

“We started with retail and focused on the quality of he beverages we produce. We’ve begun roasting our own beans, and we look forward to working closely with the farmers to further improve the quality of the coffee that we source.”

“Enhancing productivity ultimately benefits the farmers because they reap the economic benefits of a superior product.” (Rosario Juan, Chief Extractor of Coffee, Commune Café)

Bea Belardo of Belardo Coffee Enterprises takes pride in the family-owned business that was established when the Philippines became one of the top coffee exporters in the ’80s.

“The demand for local coffee is still high. Traders help roasters with their supply. As a roaster ourselves, we’ve felt that in the lean season, it will be really hard to source coffee, especially if we haven’t forcasted the demand properly. There are a lot of initiatives now in reviving the coffee industry within the country, and it’s good to know that farmers are working together with these organizations, to up their harvest and quality as well.”

“I think productivity and quality should go hand in hand. If we want coffee that has good quality, we should make it known that it’s labor intensive to reach a certain point or grade.”

“Coffee will have premium quality for a premium price.” (Bea Belardo, coffee trader, Belardo Coffee Enterprises and Café Belardo)

“I think with extensive education that focuses on producing a potential player for the specialty market, Robusta will not be seen as the inferior variety and a low-cost crop.”

“In 2016, we experimented with producing honey-processed Robusta, which ended up as our entry in the first Kape Pilipino Green Coffee Quality Grading Competition. We were surprised that it gained a score of above 80. It was labor-intensive and took a lot of care for the post-harvest. It’s a good sign that they are making a lot of effort in producing good quality coffee.”


Posted in June - October 2017, The Ultimate Coffee Guide and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , .