In 2016, PCBI and the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) brought about 10 ASEAN women to learn more about coffee and to train the other women in the ASEAN coffee-producing countries that included Laos, Indonesia, Thailand, and Cambodia.
The training took them to Cavite State University and different coffee farms, to learn about roasting and cupping under PCBI Executive Director Robert Francisco. The four-day session emphasized the key points for getting the best quality of coffee, including picking ripe.
Among them, four women have good stories to tell after just a year or so.
Nanda is a Kampot pepper farmer, a spice which coincidentally grows well with coffee. But after her training in 2016, she learned how to taste her own good coffee and spread the word among her colleagues. One of them took up the challenge. The result is a new, two-story coffee house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, called Moon Coffee. We met the owner who said, “Nanda inspired me to put up a café for our Mondulkiri coffee, and so I did!”
Rinda is actually an architect who learned about the coffee business and shifted careers to help the farmers in Java. She was asked to go to Slow Food‘s Salone del Gusto Terra Madre in 2016 to showcase Ciwidey and Flores coffee. Now, she is a proud roaster of select coffees from Indonesia. This includes Kelana Coffee, which means adventure in Indonesian.
After helping her sister in her catering and restaurant business, Soulinda started to think of her own ventures. She now has her own brand of Laos coffee called Soulinda Coffee.
Sirina came back to Vientiane after having lived in Paris for two years and found herself running her father’s coffee venture called Sinouk Café. She is now responsible for running gen cafés across Laos and developing different blends for their coffee capsules. She recently came back to Manila with good news―a Lao-Philippine blend in a special “women in coffee” capsule. She will engage the rest of the ASEAN origins, especially after winning Woman Entrepreneur of the Year at the ASEAN Business Awards last September.
There are more who improved their coffee-sorting skills and their choosing of the best quality, such as Francisca Indirsiani of Mamasa, Indonesia, who later started the IWCA Chapter in Indonesia. Thanks to USAID-ACTI, UPS Foundation and ECHOsi Foundation who are our partners in this endeavor to teach more women about coffee in the ASEAN space.
(article by Pacita Juan / photos by Liz Rañola)